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The Last Refuge: Yemen, Al-Qaeda, and America's War in Arabia Hardcover – November 19, 2012
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Part modern history, part explanatory narrative... Johnson moves deftly between decades, continents and languages.... The Last Refuge is a cogent insight into what the U.S. has done in the past twenty-five years--a bird's-eye-view on those successes and failures, in all their shades of horrid gray... --Haley Sweetland Edwards
Gregory Johnsen has written a break-through book on one of the most under-reported and misunderstood stories of the post 9-11 era. Penned in gripping prose and with incredible attention to detail, The Last Refuge unfolds with the pace of an action novel. But this story is all too true. If we ignore the widening covert war in Yemen and fail to learn from its complicated history, we do so at our own peril. Years from now, Johnsen will be seen as one of the few who got it right. --Jeremy Scahill, author of the international bestseller, Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army"
Gregory Johnsen, an authority on Yemen and jihadist extremists, has delivered in The Last Refuge a wonderfully well written and deeply reported account of the only al-Qaeda affiliate that continues to pose a real threat to the West. --Peter L. Bergen, author of Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Osama bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad"
The Last Refuge offers a valuable look at al-Qaeda s operational history in Yemen. Gregory Johnsen has done us all a service by explaining the country, the threats, and why we should pay attention. --Ali H. Soufan, author of The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda"
Johnsen... has produced the first comprehensive history of the al Qaeda movement [in Yemen]: an engrossing account of the operations, personalities, and motivations that have caused the US such headaches. "
Gregory Johnsen has written the best new book on al Qaeda in 2012 and the best book on Yemen in years.... The Last Refuge: Yemen, Al Qaeda and America s War in Arabia is a detailed narrative account of the development of [Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula]. It is also a great read... --Bruce Riedel"
The Last Refuge is an authoritative and deftly written account of al-Qaeda s Yemeni incarnation. The book is dense with terrorist genealogies, but it also offers a lively portrait of the American government s stumbling efforts to understand and influence a profoundly alien culture. His account, starting in the 1980s, implicitly places Yemen near the center of the global jihadi movement; it may not be where al-Qaeda started, but it has always furnished many of the movement s foot soldiers, and it has now succeeded Afghanistan as the US government s most urgent concern about counterterrorism. --Robert R. Worth"
Gripping and insightful. "
Part modern history, part explanatory narrative Johnson moves deftly between decades, continents and languages.... The Last Refuge is a cogent insight into what the U.S. has done in the past twenty-five years a bird s-eye-view on those successes and failures, in all their shades of horrid gray... --Haley Sweetland Edwards"
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Top Customer Reviews
Be careful not to expect any kind of analysis of U.S. policy in Yemen. The book, while providing an in depth story, does not come to a set of conclusions or policy recommendations. In the last chapter of the book, the story of AQAP simply ends, without any kind of discussions about the implications of the story the book has so painstakingly laid out. From reading Johnsen's blogs and other materials, it seems like he has quite strong (and very intelligently put) opinions about U.S. policy in the region, and it is a disappointment that these weren't included in this book.
Yemen: Dancing on the Heads of Snakes
The focus of this book is pretty much what its subtitle states, Johnsen goes into great (but always highly accessible) detail about why Yemen has become a haven for al-Qa'ida and what the US and what regional actors like Saudi Arabia are doing about it. For m, the best parts include:
a. A discussion of on-again off-again wars between the Yemeni government and the Huthis (the "Fiver Shi'a")
b. A good run-down of the first incarnation of al-Qa'ida in Yemen before it emerged as "Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula" (AQAP)
c. A fascinating discussion of the Yemeni Government's effort to "rehabilitate" terrorists (it hasn't worked well at all)
I don't have any criticisms that I would consider major and worth deducting any stars. I think the book could have been longer and gone into more depth about how AQAP exploited the turmoil in Yemen after the "Arab Spring" began.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Decent recap of Yemen's recent history with al-Qa'ida, but not a lot of depth here for anyone who already has a good foundation of understanding the place and the issues.Published 1 month ago by Big_Fish
Gregory Johnsen is the best contemporary Yemen scholar. His analysis is accurate and descriptive. If you only read one book on Yemen politics, chose this one.Published 6 months ago by yemenlover
An incredibly detailed micro-level description of the people, the intrigue, and the exotic drama of the early days of al-Queda, including Osama bin Ladin, Ayman al-Zawahiri and... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Barnett F. Baron
The history of terrorism in Yemen and the limits of U.S. foreign policy in distant, unfriendly lands are the twin subjects of Gregory Johnsen’s excellent book. Read morePublished 12 months ago by ewaffle
This seems to be an insightful and not heavily slanted look at apart of the war on terrorism. It was well written and very readable. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Michael J Berger
I was shocked at how good this book was, maybe just because I got it on sale, or maybe because I expected more of a dry, academic style of writing. It is certainly not that, Mr. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Eric