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I have recently finished reading Dr. Peter Olsson's fascinating book, The Cult of Osama, and would like to enthusiastically recommend it. Dr. Olsson has provided us with a rare insight into the mind of the most controversial and, many would argue, the most evil man of our time. Dr. Olsson, who has written extensively on cults, delves into what makes Osama, Osama. Filled with anecdotal evidence, we get a rare glimpse into bin Laden early life, and how his family influenced his decisions. I believe the book's strength is that, while attempting to understand bid Laden, Dr. Olsson refuses to offer these experiences as some type of excuse for his actions. Understanding does not delute the evil of the man. I found the book to be well-presented, with the lay person, like myself, in mind. Though not in the medical field myself, Dr. Olsson presents his findings in a manner that I could follow with ease. This is a must read for everyone.
In the Cult of Osama, Dr. Olsson draws on his psychoanalytic training, his 25 or so years of theorizing on the dynamics of charismatic leaders, and applied psychoanalytic methods to develop a feasible understanding of a man who, arguably, is the greatest cult leader of our time. Poetry by bin Laden, an interview of bin Laden by Peter Berger, and interviews of violent fundamentalists by Jessica Stern contribute to Olsson's understanding of a man who will, in all probably, never submit to a formal psychoanalysis. Consistent with his first book, Dr. Olsson offers practical advice into thoughts and actions that might address the threat of religious and political extremism. Partricularly poignant are the e-mail exchanges he has with his psychiatrist pen pal in Baghdad. This book is a worthy addition to one's library on Islam, middle eastern politics and radical fundamentalism.
Dr. Peter Olsson's latest book "Cult of Osama" reminds us that there is little to be gained by merely denouncing cult leaders like Bin Laden. To counteract their negative influence on others, we must first understand what makes them tick. Dr. Olsson in a very readable fashion traces the psychological background of Bin Laden from his early years which led to his preset-day influence in the Middle East and throughout the world. This is a very informative book that broadens our knowledge of cults and their often charismatic leaders.