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KBL: Kill Bin Laden: A Novel Based on True Events Hardcover – November 15, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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A Look Inside Kill Bin Laden
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2011 DOD diagram of the Bin Laden hideout compound. Although surveillance on its exterior was thorough, the SEAL assault force did not know what the inside layout looked like.

Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Author John Weisman

Q: You've said that the truth about Operation Neptune Spear can best be told in fiction. Why is that?

Weisman: Because the people who put Neptune Spear together and carried it out aren’t talking, and won’t be, for some time. And all the factual accounts so far have been colored by who sourced them. There’s a lot of political spin about Neptune Spear: the White House has its own version. So do the operators, and so does the CIA. There were so many contradictory accounts that after talking to sources both in the military, the intelligence community, and political operatives, I decided that the best way to go was fiction. The gist of what they all told me was that I’d get closer to the truth by doing fiction—and equally important, get a lot more help that way.

Q: In writing KBL as a novel, you were able to create characters that really touch the reader, for example, your retired Ranger Master Sergeant, Charlie Becker. Did giving a voice to soldiers like Charlie play a part in your wanting to write KBL as fiction?

Weisman: Of course. To me, Charlie Becker represents the best we have in our armed services. He is a patriotic, mission-driven individual who has seen it all, has been horribly wounded, and yet still wants to contribute, to give something back to the nation. What I really respect is the fact that his most deadly weapon isn’t a gun—it’s his mind. Like so many Tier One operators, he will outthink you, and then he will kill you. I know dozens of soldiers like Charlie Becker, maybe even scores. Some are wounded warriors who have returned to action. Some work the covert side for CIA’s Ground Branch, or make the jump to case officer. Others work at the Asymmetric Warfare Group, or the CAG, or are SEALs or Rangers. I am in awe of what they do, and the sacrifices that they are willing to make so that we can sleep safe in our beds at night. And I hope I do them justice in KBL.

Q: There are other accounts of this mission, why should readers choose to buy KBL?

Weisman: Well, if I were being frank, I’d say first of all it’s a better read than any of the others. It’s also the first holistic book about Neptune Spear, by which I mean it deals not just with the SEAL portion, but also the political tussles, the yearlong CIA operation, and all the internal debates that took place before the president finally gave the go-ahead. And I also believe—and I’ve been told by friends in Tier One units who saw the manuscript—that I got things pretty much spot on.

Q: Why do you feel it was important to write the book? Why do you think people should know “the truth” about what happened?

Weisman: It was important because this was the culmination of a ten-year hunt that has cosmic significance for us as a nation. And since it is going to take some years for people to know “the truth” about what actually happened, I felt I could get a pretty good picture out sooner than that.


“We will probably never get the full, true account of how Osama bin Laden was found and killed in Pakistan. Mr. Weisman’s novelization of the mission is the next best thing.” (New York Times)

“Weisman’s research is excellent, and he clearly has expert sources. He’s adept at explaining the complex structure of the special operations units . . . As a former MI6 agent who’s used to reading inaccuracies in thrillers, I was delighted to note that every chapter here feels right.” (Washington Post)

“Absolutely gripping. KBL: Kill Bin Laden describes a true story that can only be told in fiction. It also enthrallingly shows how SEALs are the future of warfare in the 21st century.” (Robert Baer, former CIA officer and New York Times bestselling author of See No Evil )

“A stunner and a riveting read. KBL is rife with realism and a true-to-life portrayal of hard-core warriors, their ethos and their world.” (Dan Rather)

KBL is an amazing tour de force. This is as close as you will get to the pulse-pounding, incredibly daring mission to find and Kill Bin Laden.” (Joseph Wambaugh)

“A down and dirty thriller.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“This is a must-read book for anyone who wants to understand the meticulous planning and preparation that must go into carrying out a raid to kill the most wanted terrorist in the world, Usama Bin Laden, and the unselfish dedication that drives our ‘special warriors.’” (ADM James "Ace" Lyons, Jr., Former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet)

“An extraordinary look inside Special Operations Forces at the team level. Based on three decades of dogged, accurate and mature reporting, Weisman has developed credibility inside the secret community of special ops. This book ties together the strands of detective work, spy craft and commando skills.” (Bing West, author of The Village, The Strongest Tribe and The Wrong War)

“Impressively detailed and imagined, Weisman’s fictional account of the hunt for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden will resonate . . . in this fast-paced narrative” (Publishers Weekly)

“Mr. Weisman’s research is thorough, and there is no shortage of CIA and military lore woven into KBL’s pages . . . he brings them all together in a narrative so real that readers will quickly forget that it is fiction.” (New York Journal of Books)

“KBL is a riveting and detailed chronology of the events leading up to Bin Laden’s death. Readers will wonder if Weisman had insider knowledge of the plans and ongoing access to their implementation.” (Library Journal)

“John Weisman has done it again! KBL is the latest of his books that probe beneath the facts of world-changing events to expose the deeper meanings and truths and lay bare the raw passions of people who throw themselves into such situations.” (John Perkins, New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man)

“KBL tells the story so well that you keep turning the pages even though you know the ending.” (Washington Independent Review of Books)

“John Weisman has written an intriguing tale. Try guessing where fiction ends in KBL and fact takes over.” (Douglas Waller, author of Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage)

“There are only a few authors who are able to climb inside the culture, mindset, and passions of the people who conduct covert and special operations. SOAR reveals why John Weisman is the best in the business in writing about it.” (William S. Cohen, former U.S. secretary of defense, on SOAR)

“A good and informative read.” (Washington Times)

“KBL: Kill Bin Laden won’t be closed until you finish it.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

“Whether you call it a novel or a fictional narrative, as Weisman says, ‘based on true events,’ the story . . . stands as one of the most compelling and interesting for news-minded Americans.” (Dallas Morning News)

“With keen insight into both the tactical and political measures at stake in this momentous strike, Weisman has penned an account that, though technically a work of fiction, resonates with credibility.” (Iron Mountain Daily News)

“A book worth reading, not to mention adding to the home, school, and public libraries in every town and city in America. If you want to learn how the brave men and women of our special forces and intelligence agencies really do business . . . pick up a copy.” (US Daily Review)

“This book is very believable and well-developed with clear and concise details . . . What a reader will take away from this novel is an increased appreciation for the job that intelligence and Special Forces do: their passion, diligence, perseverance, and grit.” (American Thinker)

“A great tale about a great mission.” (BlackFive.com)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (November 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062119516
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062119513
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,425,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on November 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In December 2010, American expatriate Charlie Becker is in Abbottabad, Pakistan begging for spare change. The veteran suffered crippling injuries in the Afghanistan campaign so most Pakistani does not give him a second look at they go about their business. However, they are wrong about Charlie. Based on vague degrees of connection, he is in Abbottabad undercover seeking any leads that Osama bin Laden resides in this town inside of a high walled villa. If he confirms the whereabouts, a specially trained SEAL top secret team will enter the villa to complete the mission of turning Bin Laden into a hamburger.

This is a fictionalized account of what may have happened that led to the assassination of Bin Laden. Fast-paced, the story line hooks readers who will believe that John Weisman provides a plausible account of what could have happened. Especially fascinating is the political fight in DC before, during and after the kill including the at sea burial debate and the claims of who takes credit for the successful KBL operation. With a nod to Liberty Valance (print the legend not the truth), Mr. Weisman writes a stirring thriller.

Harriet Klausner
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This is a spectacular book. Although it is sold as a novel it is the historical narrative of what actually occurred. John Weismann is a trusted agent within the special warfare community and is telling the story of unnamed operators who want to ensure that this operation is properly recorded for history. Mr. Weismann has the ability to tell a thrilling story in which we know the beginning and the end but need to know the details of the middle. I have always been a fan of mr. Weisman's books but he has brought it to another level with this book.
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This book is an absolute must read not only for those people who live in the world of Special Operations, but for those who want to understand it. If you want to get a genuine feel for the sights, smells, sounds, verbiage, and truth about how we talk, act, think and "jock-up or kit out", then this is the book to read. John Weisman has captured those nuances that are specific to SOF while maintaining the sanctity of that secret world. He was able to re-construct a possbile scenario of how the mission might have gone down all the while not crossing a line that could cause their operations to become ineffective. This book has details that only those who know will be able to identify, but are also so genuine, that anyone who reads this book will get a true feel and appreciation for that world in the way no other book I have ever read regarding these kinds of operations has ever been able to illuminate. From my perspective as a career Special Operations Soldier with over 30 years of real world combat experience, I believe anyone who reads this book will be completely convinced that John Weisman has payed an immense Honor to those in the SOF community - especially those on this jaunt - and has set the bar extremely high for future authors who want to take this subject on and try their best to get it right...as Weisman so eloquently has...
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This book was superb. I read through it in 2 days because I just could not stop turning the pages. Anyone with an interest in Naval Special Warfare, the CIA's Special Activity Division and our countries National Defense policies will love this book. The author is extremely knowledgable and there is absolutely no doubt that he has done his research on this topic. He captures the dynamics of a Tier 1 Special Operations Units on the family level and also operationally, as he chronicles HVT raids by the second which kept me on the edge of my seat. Anyone who enjoyed Lone Survivor or SEAL of Honor will absolutely love this book.
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John Weisman has captured the essence of the Quiet Professional art. The author immerses the reader in the cultural milieu of black SOF ops. Weisman entices the reader to invest in the characters, mission and morality of capture/kill msns. He writes content in the knowledge that the novel reveals a story reminiscent of the best non-fiction direct action books ever authored.
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Bottom Line Up Front: I couldn't put this book down. It is simply outstanding.

John Weisman has written a narrative that seamlessly blends fact and fiction, leaving the reader wondering where the one stops and the other starts. He has ripped more than a years worth of headlines from the AfPak conflict (most notably the Raymond Davis saga--upon which he puts an clever spin) to create a story that is fast paced and incredibly realistic. It doesn't matter how much of it is fact and how much is pure fiction. If you want a second by second accouint of what is was like in Abottabad in the early hours of 2 May 2011, it doesn't get any better than this.
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For me regardlesss of the nature or subject of ANY book, it MUST be entertaining.
Sufficiently entertaining to overcome any negatives the book may include, or errors
made by the author.
For me the continual references towards religion/faith/belief were needless and not
a soun d element of the telling of the story.
The shallow and callow of Washington players are easily identified and tend to be fun, if infuriating in their accuracy.
Slow Joe Biden leapt off the pages with his crudity and trademarked stupidity.
HOWEVER,...the book was sufficiently entertaining to overcome the self inflicted weaknesses.
And THAT is good enough for me.
Good enough for a FIVE STAR review.
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