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Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11 Mass Market Paperback – August 31, 2004

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (August 31, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812966236
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812966237
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,078,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Smart and evocatively written . . . A narrative that takes on the frenetic pace of a spy thriller.”
The New York Times Book Review

“EXPLOSIVE . . . A lean, lucid retelling of how the CIA, FBI, and U.S. leaders missed a decade’s worth of clues and opportunities that if heeded, Posner argues, might have forestalled the 9/11 terrorist attacks . . . It opens up more troubling questions about crucial U.S. allies that someone will now have to address.”

“A GODSEND . . . Posner has done an amazing job . . . laying out a complicated situation through dramatic narrative.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“AN EXPLOSIVE SCOOP . . . No question, 9/11 could and should have been prevented.”
Austin American-Statesman

The New York Times

From the Inside Flap

Since 9/11, one important question has persisted: What was really going on behind the scenes with intelligence services and government leaders during the time preceding that terrible day? After an eighteen-month investigation, Gerald Posner reveals much previously undisclosed information, including details about a secret deal between Saudi Arabia and Osama bin Laden; how the U.S. government missed several chances to kill or capture bin Laden; how the CIA tracked–and then lost–two of the hijackers when they entered the United States months before the attacks; the devastating consequences of the crippling rivalry between the CIA and FBI; and the startling account of top al Qaeda captive whose information subsequently led to a trail of mysterious deaths of Saudi Arabian princes and Pakistani military leaders.
Why America Slept exposes the frequent mistakes made by law enforcement and government agencies, and demonstrates how the failures to prevent 9/11 were tragically not an exception but typical. In the end, Posner makes a damning case that the terrorist attacks could have been prevented.

More About the Author

John Martin of ABC News says "Gerald Posner is one of the most resourceful investigators I have encountered in thirty years of journalism." Garry Wills calls Posner "a superb investigative reporter," while the Los Angeles Times dubs him "a classic-style investigative journalist." "His work is painstakingly honest journalism" concluded The Washington Post. The New York Times lauded his "exhaustive research techniques" and The Boston Globe determined Posner is "an investigative journalist whose work is marked by his thorough and meticulous research." "A resourceful investigator and skillful writer," says The Dallas Morning News.

Posner was one of the youngest attorneys (23) ever hired by the Wall Street law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore. A Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of California at Berkeley (1975), he was an Honors Graduate of Hastings Law School (1978), where he served as the Associate Executive Editor for the Law Review. Of counsel to the law firm he founded, Posner and Ferrara, he is now a full time journalist and author.

He is the Chief Investigative Reporter for the Daily Beast (www.thedailybeast/author/gerald-posner). In the past, he was a freelance writer on investigative issues for several news magazines, and a regular contributor to NBC, the History Channel, CNN, FOX News, CBS, and MSNBC. A member of the National Advisory Board of the National Writers Union, Posner is also a member of the Authors Guild, PEN, The Committee to Protect Journalists, and Phi Beta Kappa. He lives in Miami Beach with his wife, author, Trisha Posner, who works on all his projects (www.trishaposner.com).

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Richard D. Cappetto VINE VOICE on November 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been reading many books on Bin Laden, Al Quada, Muslim extremist and also on the above in relation to law enforcement (CIA, FBI, INS, NSA, etc.), Our Presidential Administrations and to Congress (law makers) as it all relates to 9-11. Those books include Catastrophe by Chris Ruddy and Carl Linbacher, Jr., Breakdown by Bill Gurtz, The Sword Of the prophet by Serge Trifkovic, American Jihad by Steve Emerson, among others; and I must say this book; Why America Slept by Gerald Posner, is one of the best. It is completely documented and thoroughly sourced. It centers on the History of major terrorists attacks on the USA, and our allies in relation to the response of our intelligence agency's, State department, and the all our presidential Administration's dating from the Carter years (1976-80) to Now (2003). In Why America Slept by Gerald Posner, He details both the Political and Law enforcement's responses to Islamic based terrorism and what mistakes were made all along the way. the book does not make wild charges but details the mistakes so that we can learn from them. This book documents all of Al Quada's attacks on the US and American citizens all over the world; Documents the History of this declared war on US; and How each attack was handled my the FBI, CIA, INS And by the administrations. He shows how weak responses to terrorism emboldened the terrorists and He also documents some of the missed opportunities to get Bin Laden and Stop his organization long before 9-11. There is also a great chapter on the capture and interrogation of Abu Zubaydah which is must reading. Yes, the Book is critical; but not in any political way, there is no ax to grind hear, against any one individual or administration, its sober and reflective and is a must read for anyone and everyone who wants to know how 9-11 happened.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"Why America Slept" is excellent and vital reporting of the isolated, but mutually contributing failures of management, policy, regulation, politics, will, and luck that culminated in the awful tragedy of 9/11. It is concisely told in a clean style with energy to spare. Posner starts the book with a seemingly minor event (the murder of Emir Shalabi) that turns out to have major implications in the power shift among the participants in the extreme elements in the Islamist war against the West.
We also get interesting information about the events around the trial of the Blind Sheikh Omar Rahman, the assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane, the '93 bombing of the World Trade Center, the embassy bombings, the attack on the Cole, the lessons the terrorists took from our cutting and running from Somalia, and so many more of the preliminary incidents and battles in the War on Terror. More sad than the events themselves is our collective delusion at the time that these were isolated incidents (such as the shooting on the Empire State Building Observation Deck). The author reports these events clearly and with just enough intelligent analysis and insight to show us how all these flow into the same river of violence without ever letting the narrative getting bogged down.
Posner doesn't play the easy blame game of trying to make any one person or any one agency or administration THE fall guy. There are so many failures leading up to the towers crashing to the ground that each and every one of us can take at least a cupful of blame.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on November 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
As a detailed, carefully documented exposé of ignorance, complacency, shortsightedness and negligence, WHY AMERICA SLEPT is perhaps the most important of the recent books addressing various aspects of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
A similar case could be made for James Bovard's TERRORISM AND TYRANNY, which examines not causes but effects, specifically the government's response to 9/11, which has consisted largely of an unprecedented assault on the Bill of Rights, especially in the areas of privacy and due process. It is a vastly important book that every American ought to read.
Gerald Posner's concern, however, is with life-and-death issues, primarily the question of why the intelligence community failed to discover the al-Qaeda plot to hijack civilian airliners and crash them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Although Posner's approach is generally detached and restrained, he has conceded that he was "infuriated" by some of his discoveries and "disgusted" in particular by President Clinton's failure to neutralize the threat posed by the al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden. Posner provides details of opportunities to capture bin Laden, opportunities that he says Clinton either ignored or rejected. Moreover, he says, Clinton declined offers by both Sudan and Qatar to arrest bin Laden and deliver him to the United States. Perhaps for purposes of comic relief, Posner also quotes Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger, as saying that as early as 1996 the administration was "trying to get bin Laden with everything we had."
In this carnival of boneheadedness and floundering incompetence, Posner recounts one outrage after another.
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