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Jawbreaker: The Attack on Bin Laden and Al Qaeda: A Personal Account by the CIA's Key Field Commander Hardcover – Unabridged, December 27, 2005
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Spectacular Advance Praise for Jawbreaker
“The hunt for Osama bin Laden is the story of courageous CIA officers, like Gary Berntsen, repeatedly finding him and U.S. political and military leaders refusing to kill him. Berntsen’s excellent book Jawbreaker—which CIA leaders tried to suppress to protect America's bipartisan political elite and its military sycophants—precisely describes the eleventh such opportunity since 1998, and again shows that uniformed bureaucrats masquerading as U.S. generals let him escape from Tora Bora rather than risk the lives of U.S. soldiers. Read this heartbreaking book, keep it safe, and reread it after al-Qaeda detonates a nuclear device in America. You will then know who signed the death warrant for tens of thousands of your countrymen.” —Michael Scheuer, bestselling author of Imperial Hubris and Through Our Enemies’ Eyes
“Jawbreaker is a real page turner . . . Berntsen was the CIA’s ‘go to guy’ when it came to leading in Afghanistan, owing to his exceptional operational and leadership skills in situations involving the threat of immediate danger. Berntsen is brave and bold and a true American hero.” —Cofer Black, former Chief of the Central Intelligence Agency's Counterterrorism Center
“The Afghan campaign of 2001 was the CIA’s finest hour. Jawbreaker is the story of that victory and of the handful of clandestine service officers who organized one of the swiftest, most economical and most decisive military operations in history. Jawbreaker is both a thrilling read and a timely reminder of why America needs a clandestine service, and what we owe to those who serve in it.” —James Dobbins, Director of International Security and Defense Policy, Rand Corporation; Former U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan
About the Author
Gary Berntsen spent more than twenty years as an officer in the Clandestine Service and served in an array of Field Command assignments. He has been awarded both the Distinguished Intelligence Medal and the Intelligence Star.
Ralph Pezzullo is a former journalist, award-winning playwright and screenwriter, and is the author of At the Fall of Somoza, Plunging into Haiti, and the mystery novel Eve Missing.
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Top Customer Reviews
One of the things I most enjoyed about this book was the integration of multiple elements of our intelligence and military forces. It was amazing to see how they were used to produce a syngeneic effect on the battle field. The previous experience of the CIA in the era of the Russian invasion was critical to the development of the alliances required to destroy Al Qaeda.
The author makes an interesting point regarding the concept of intelligence based warfare. One of the major concepts being utilization of resources for maximum effect at a minimal destruction to targets that are not targeted.
Admittedly this book does drag down a little with the political issues that needed to be addressed in order to create that alliance. But it makes up for it when describing American soldiers riding horse-back into confrontations with the enemy. To my knowledge, the last American cavalry charge took place in the Philippines in World War Two.
The author also explains the situation at Tora Bora and why it is believed Al Qaeda escaped into Pakistan’s tribal area. With great frustration it seems the author believes it was an internal political issue that prevented the US from blocking this region and preventing the escape. This particular section of the book is worth reading in detail as it is unfortunately true that success has many fathers but failure has none.
Over all this is a very interesting book about the war in Afghanistan. If you enjoyed this then I would strongly suggest First In: How seven CIA officers opened the war on terror in Afghanistan by Gary Schroen and most certainly Hank Crumpton’s book The Art of Intelligence: lessons from a Life in the CIA’s clandestine service as they both deal with direct intervention in Afghanistan. I would also recommend Hard Measures by Jose A Rodriguez as a primer for what happens when you have key assets with information derived from the battle field.
It was hard to put down. My hat is off to the brave men and women of the US intelligence community and military.
I read "First In" before this book, and that helped put the story together for the parts that were confusing or lacking in Jawbreaker.
Jawbreaker is written a bit choppy and at times hard to follow. Some of that is the author/editor's fault, some is due to censors. Some parts of the story are cut too short and others are too long and the transitions are confusing.
The CIA redaction is clearly annoying. The book may be better written by eliminating the redaction and editing the story to flow better.
It is very clear that the author was rightfully frustrated by some of the bureaucracy of the US government during the war and also by the people that censored his book, especially when I read redacted parts in other books, as Berntsen points out.
His book is a little heavy on bravado and self aggrandizement, but I love the kind of leader he describes himself as. Our military needs more people like him that are not afraid to make decisions and do their job, which is my guess why he was so heavily censored. Weak leaders don't like strong ones. Unfortunately he wasn't always allowed to do what he should have been able to do, and that is the part of the story you must read. I suspect that may be why his book was so heavily censored and First In does not appear to be.
Bin Laden could have been killed or captured at the end of 2001, but, thanks to the politicians, he got another 9,5 years of life.
Abottabad could have been avoided. But, again the politicans knows better then those on the ground fighting a war.
Those pencil-pushers should know that this is an enemy that has no rules and doesn`t care whoe gets killed or injured in the process.
This is an enemy that is using a religion of tolerance as an excuse to kill all those who does not share their view.