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The Finish: The Killing of Osama bin Laden Paperback – June 11, 2013
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While much has been written about the killing of Osama Bin Laden by an elite group of Navy Seals--and much more will be--no account could be more meticulous and balanced than this fascinating report from the author of Black Hawk Down. Riveting but evenhanded, dramatic but thoughtful, Bowden’s account is the deeply sourced story of what was going on in the heads of our government leaders, as well as the Al Qaeda leader known in the intelligence community as “The Pacer.” --Sara Nelson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
On Point with Tom Ashbrook (WBUR) Summer Reading Pick
In-depth interviews with Obama and other insiders reveal a White House on edge, facing top-secret options, white-knuckle decisions, and unforeseen obstacles. . . . Bowden weaves together accounts from Obama and top decision-makers for the full story behind the daring operation.”Vanity Fair
A book one with sweep and sophistication about a pivotal, secretive operation . . . smart and measured, long on transparency and short on speculation. . . . Bowden enjoyed exceptional access, but wasn't captured by it. . . . Bowden’s lens is wide, encompassing Obama’s evolution as a politician and the peculiar influence of bin Laden . . . Where the book shines is in Bowden's reconstruction and refined analysis of the intelligence operations that turned up bin Laden's location. . . . The book also succeeds in its artful portrait of Obama as commander in chief. . . . compelling drama, and Bowden has captured it with skill and style.”Seattle Times
How all the president’s men and women finally nabbed the world’s most wanted terrorist is truly a stunning story. And while parts of it have been told, Barack Obama himself has confided in only one writer about all the details. And he is Mark Bowden.”CNN
The first book, and, to date, the definitive one, that looks at the Osama bin Laden raid from President Obama’s perspective. The Finish describes a new kind of war fightingthe fusion of intelligence from vast and scattered sourcesto track and apprehend, or kill, the enemy. . . . It's a gripping tale.”The Daily Beast
The most accessible and satisfying book yet written on the climactic event in the United States' long war against al Qaeda.”San Francisco Chronicle
The death of the man responsible for the 9/11 attacks is a fantastic story. It has goodies and baddies, a long, slow build to the climax, exotic locations and lots of hardware. . . . Bowden [shows] how success in the raid last May was the culmination not just of a decade of often tedious data-crunching by the CIA and other analysts, but of a vast and ongoing effort within the American security establishment and government to develop a new range of capabilities. . . . How the Americans finally got their man is an extraordinary tale and Bowden does it justice.”Guardian
"A superb storyteller, Bowden captures the tense drama accompanying the final months of the bin Laden hunt, even as he underscores the quiet, essential work of years."Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Bowden’s new book outlines the changes in warfare since the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attacks, and the way our increasing computational power has helped capture terrorists like Osama bin Laden.”NPR
The Finish leverages access to key White House, military, intelligence, and foreign-policy officialsincluding President Obama himselfto get behind the intricate story of how SEAL Team Six was sent to Abbottabad, Pakistan, to kill Osama bin Laden. . . . Bowden reviews the evolutionary progress made in intelligence processing and military capabilities that led to the raid on Abbottabad. . . . close to a textbook example of complex national security decision-making.”The Atlantic
[A] dramatic narrative . . . the actual champion of the bin Laden hunt is a collective of mostly nameless hands within the intelligence bureaucracy. . . The Finish is at its best when Mr. Bowden goes deep into mission planning, gameboarding the choice of means of attackair strike? sniper drone? ground-force raid?”Wall Street Journal
A page-turner . . . an informative, on-the-ground account of the mission. Adept at maintaining suspense even when the outcome is widely known, Bowden also makes judicious assessments of how much credit Obama deserves -- and the impact of the assassination on al Qaeda.”Minneapolis Star Tribune
Bowden would seem like the perfect person to tell the bin Laden story. . . . There is an excellent setting-the-record-straight section at the end that has been missing in other volumes.”Washington Post
Bowden . . . reveals the details of the planning, but knows when to pull back from a close focus to give the wider view of what was at stake for President Obama, military planners and the Navy SEALS team. . . . [His] experience as a reporter and author shows.”Fayetteville Observer
Shaping up to be one of the fall’s big books.”Publishers Weekly
Bowden’s book draws back to look at the raid in strategic context. I suspect that readers who choose Bowden’s wide-angle approach will find themselves better informed.”St. Louis Today
To chart the tale of the hunt for the world’s most notorious terrorist, Bowden assembled an extensive history of the modern warfare and intelligence tactics that led to the rare, execution and deep-sea burial.” Philadelphia Weekly
[Bowden] uses his hard-earned access to focus on the decade of intelligence-gathering and decision-making that led up to the Abbottabad raid.”National Post (Canada)
The Finish paints the U.S. government’s relationship to technology and social media as integral in the capture of bin Laden. . . . Many see Bowden as one of the most respected writers covering the U.S. military and Special Forces today.”Books & Review
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Top Customer Reviews
Unlike "No Easy Day," the Bin Laden raid comprises only one chapter of "The Finish," which, according to Bowden, draws upon Owens' account for details. Both should be read, along with Esquire magazine's recent article, "The Shooter," in order to begin framing an opinion on what happened that night. Two facts emerge -- one, there was practically no chance bin Laden was going to be taken alive; and two, the "fog of war" is a real thing. We have three accounts, maybe four if you count Zero Dark Thirty, and maybe three different versions of what happened.
Bowden, a professional journalist and author of "Blackhawk Down" and "Killing Pablo," among others, is always an entertaining writer. However, one is somewhat left with the impression that this book was rushed to print in reaction to news events.
The two books you need to read to get the gist of the raid are this one, and No Easy Day. Also, Google 'Esquire Bin Laden Shooter' and theres an excellent report from another Seal on the raid. Avoid the book Seal Target Geronimo, its full of wrong information.
No single book contains 'everything worth knowing' about what happened.
This book has a lot of great information, just like No Easy Day does. Even as good as the movie Zero Dark Thirty is, it has its own agenda as well, and its own glaring omissions. The movie is so afraid to offend the arab world, it glosses over events that happened during the raid like UBL's body being dragged down the stairs by the feet (not yet in a body bag) or even just the kill shots themselves.. simply not shown at all. More time is spent in the movie showing Maya crying at the end than UBL. No single source contains everything worth knowing.
My problem with the book is that Bowden shared a story, but not much in the way of deep insight. The book reads as if Bowden generally agrees with President Obama's world view, history and insights without much critical analysis (e.g., Afghanistan was a good war; Iraq was a bad war). Administration officials, including the President are quoted at length, but little they assert is analyzed.
I kept telling myself that he is telling the story of the search/attack, not an analysis of political philosophy, or American politics. But a little more context would have strengthened the work.
Seriously Mr. Bowden, what happened?