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The Man Who Warned America : The Life and Death of John O'Neill, the FBI's Embattled Counterterror Warrior Paperback – Bargain Price, June 1, 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the 1990s, FBI counterterrorism expert John O'Neill was widely regarded as one of the government's foremost authorities on Mideastern politics and terrorism; he was also a prominent fixture at Manhattan nightlife hot spots like Elaine's. He spent nearly a decade investigating the bombings orchestrated by religious extremists, recognizing Osama bin Laden as a threat long before other federal authorities did. But O'Neill died in another bin Laden attack shortly after leaving the FBI, just a few weeks into a new job as security chief at the World Trade Center. Weiss, as criminal justice reporter for the New York Post, knew O'Neill as a valued source, but from the story he presents, it's unclear how well anybody-even those closest to him-really knew O'Neill, a man described by friends as "on the run from himself" his entire adult life. It wasn't until after his death, for example, that his three girlfriends learned about one another-and that he was still legally bound to the wife he said he had divorced. The biography acknowledges his complicated relationships without lingering over details, putting them in the context of a lifelong need for admiration and approval both personally and professionally. Weiss handles the terrorism angle with slightly less subtlety, asserting that the Clinton administration was distracted from the issue by endless scandal and suggesting that if the rest of the government had investigated it with O'Neill's tenacity, September 11 might have been avoided. But the political overtones never get in the way of this portrait of a dynamic yet enigmatic crusader who was as human as he was heroic.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Murray Weiss, an award-winning investigative journalist and author, is the Criminal Justice Editor at the NEW YORK POST. During more than three decades with the POST and the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, he has written extensively on law enforcement, organized crime, terrorism, criminal justice, and politics. He has appeared frequently on radio and television, including "Larry King Live" and "The O'Reilly Factor" and is co-author of PALM BEACH BABYLON. He lives in New York. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • ISBN-10: 006050823X
  • ASIN: B000C4SPLU
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,931,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. E. Nelson VINE VOICE on June 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Typically, I have no problem summarizing a book in a review, especially a non-fiction book. However, this is one of those books that tell several stories. This is a book on government bureaucracy, terrorism, a visionary to whom no one will listen, and a man who people love and despise at the same time.

"The Man Who Warned America" is an excellent book on the life of John O'Neill, who was probably one of the FBI's best counterterrorism agents. John O'Neill is a name that I had never heard before until this book.

O'Neill would probably be no more memorable than any other FBI agent, except for a man named Osama Bin Laden. O'Neill had partaken in the investigation of almost every America related terrorist event in recent history, including Oklahoma City, the USS Cole in Yemen, the embassy bombings in Africa, and the bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Yet what made O'Neill noteworthy was the fact he fingered Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda as a terrorist threat to the United States in 1995, six years before the infamous attack on the World Trade Center. However, just like a painter without a canvas, O'Neill was a man with an answer to a question no one had the foresight to ask, and no one would listen until it was too late.

The book explores enigma and duality that is O'Neill's personal and professional life. As an FBI agent, O'Neill was second to no one. If it weren't for two indiscretions (one accidental, one the type of thing probably everyone does anyway), O'Neill might have made it to the top spot in the FBI. The book also tells a different side of O'Neill, a womanizer, a chronic liar, and a person who seemingly had no regard for his financial future. Yet, he was a caring father, an insecure mate, and a typical fun-loving American.
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Format: Hardcover
On the 2nd anniversary of the 9/11 disaster, I was watching NOW on PBS. I was struck by the remark of a widow who commented on the irony of how her husband died at the hands of terrorists, the very news she skipped over [pre 9/11] when reading the NY Times. How ironic that John O'Neill, who spent his adult life seeking that knowledge, would find the same fate. For this book's readability and essential overview of recent terrorist history, I recommend that everyone in America who can read, get this book out of their libraries. Clearly Murray Weiss seeks a wide audience by sticking to an easy reportorial style of writing that won't put people off, which combines the dry stuff of international politics and investigation with a never sensationalist view of O'Neill's personal life. We get the essence of the man, the world he inhabits and the details of his life's work at the FBI, all in one easy read. Good job. Where I might quibble or question is when Weiss clearly can't resist giving jabs to the Clinton administration and Hillary specifically, and in the section on the investigation of the Cole disaster. Weiss can't seem to help hiding his [and perhaps O'Neill's] feelings in those sections. While I don't necessarily disagree with him on Clinton's reaction to terrorist threats, these sections are in contrast to what otherwise seems to be a balanced view of the terrorist danger to our country, one which for this reader, opened up my eyes to want to make further inquiries and read more. And for that, this book gets 5 stars--and would get 10 if that were an available option. Thanks to Murrary Weiss for doing his share, not only as a reporter, but as the author of this book, to try to engage the American public in the real stuff that impacts our lives.
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Format: Hardcover
I've read this book, reread it and reread it yet again. This is a fantastic read. Murray Weiss' obvious affection for O'Neill shines through. It is a sympathetic portrait of John O'neill whose hard-charging style earned friends and foes in all aspects of government. He clashed in particular with Barbara Bodine, the US ambasador to Yeman, over her hampering of the FBI's Cole investigation and her arabist mind set. Sounds like she almost went native! The tragedy of this clash, and, ultimately, her refusal to allow him back into Yeman is that much later linkage was made between some of the Cole attackers and linked individuals and Yeman safe houses and the 911 plot. O'Neill was head of the FBI's counter terror division and the resident expert on Bin Laden. The great irony as we all know is that his first post-FBI job was the head of security at the World Trade Centers--he died on 911 at his new post.

His was a warm engaging personality. People obviously loved him. Some of his personal relationships with woman were exposed in this book. He kept his life compartmentalized to an extreme degree. To this I would only ask how many of us would like a journlistic sleuth like Mr. Weiss pouring over every personal/financial detail of our lives??? No thanks!

His life will soon be made into a movie and his life has all the attributes that could make a great film . . . courage, lots of girls, smart as hell and driven. To me John O'Neill represents the best in America . . . the very best. He is a hero in the full sense of the word(not just the positive traits, but with tragic flaws as well). For more information check out the PBS Frontline website where they have a free archived program on his life and times. Five Stars. A great read.
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