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Osama Bin Laden 1st Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199738663
ISBN-10: 0199738661
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This propulsive biography is not bin Laden for beginners, but its central point is clear. Scheuer (Imperial Hubris), chief of the CIA's Osama bin Laden unit from 1996 to 1999, argues that the West chronically underestimates bin Laden's "piety, generosity, personal bravery, strategic ability, charisma and patience." In creating a cartoonish enemy, the U.S. has "mindlessly" played into bin Laden's plans to provoke a war on Muslim soil to catalyze a jihad to "obliterate America from within, by making it economically weak, until its markets collapse." The depiction of bin Laden's evolution from devout student to militant leader is deeply detailed and dense, and readers unable to keep up with a dissection of Islam's diverse creeds and doctrines will feel overwhelmed at times, but Scheuer's project is lucid and important. Bin Laden "anticipated a war of attrition that might last decades" and has planned ahead. He has cultivated a multigenerational cadre of between 5,000 and 7,000 loyal warriors, many from the educated upper classes. The conflict with al-Qaeda will, by bin Laden's design, likely be multigenerational, and Scheuer takes a crucial step in revealing how the West keeps itself vulnerable by persisting in demonizing rather than understanding its formidable opponent. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

Scheuer, chief of the CIA’s bin Laden unit from 1996 to 1999 and a consultant to that unit until 2004, delivers an unnerving profile of the al-Qaeda leader. Unnerving not just because it lays out bin Laden’s genius in luring the U.S. into a financially ruinous “war on terrorism” but also because it shows a “pious, brave, intelligent, charismatic” man fully capable of leading an insurgent Muslim force against the West, a profile at odds with the more fanatical, marginalized figure often portrayed by mainstream media. Scheuer tracks bin Laden’s life from his Saudi childhood as the son of a remote but revered and very wealthy contractor all the way to his place as one of the pivotal political figures of our time. More to the point, as he has in previous books (Marching toward Hell, 2008), Scheuer argues that bin Laden’s success owes as much to America’s ineptness in the Mideast as it does to bin Laden himself, a sentiment that should warn policymakers and citizens alike. --Alan Moores

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (February 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199738661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199738663
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.9 x 5.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #908,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Arnold TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Michael Scheuer is a unique personality in the field of "bin Laden Studies." He's neither liberal nor conservative, although he holds positions that please and upset both parties. However, at times he seems to have nuggets of wisdom, but his insights are limited by his passionate and occasionally sloppy communication. Osama Bin Laden bears all of these characteristics.

First, Scheuer goes to great lengths to write an actual biography of bin Laden, not simply diatribe against the man. Scheuer uses many sources both written by bin Laden or by those close to him. It's fascinating to see what Scheuer highlights that goes missing in the typical "war on terror" books. For example, bin Laden loves the outdoors and believes a Spartan lifestyle toughens soldiers. Thus, it should come as no surprise that he's survived quite readily in the mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan. More importantly, Scheuer clarifies that bin Laden has never followed takfirism, or the policy of judging certain Muslims insufficiently pure. In fact, his success derives in no small part to his appeals to pan-Islamism, going so far as to chastise his lieutenant Zarqawi in Iraq for targeting Shias.

While I appreciate Scheuer's caution against rushing to villainize bin Laden, at time he goes too far in the opposite direction. Scheuer lambast anyone who accepts what he calls the "Saudi propaganda version" of bin Laden's life, notably that bin Laden as a good Saudi led astray by the Egyptian al-Zawahiri. Scheuer does point out that Zawahiri does seem to have moved closer to bin Laden's positions after they met.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Mr. Scheuer does us a great service in telling us the truth rather than what we want to hear. It is difficult to seek to understand an enemy for his merits rather than simple name-calling that portray him as that which we prefer he was. But Mr. Scheuer reminds us that it is not because he wishes to praise bin Laden, but to bury him. He argues convincingly that others have, for various reasons, misjudged and misrepresented bin Laden and al Queda. Some have done so, perhaps for political or economical reasons to cover their own failings. Others more out of ignorance and desiring to say what itching ears want to hear. Whatever the source of the obfuscation it leads to the same result - our defeat. By intentionally covering our ears and eyes to reality we have sealed our own demise. Until we learn to acknowledge this enemy for what it really is, we will never understand how to defeat him.

One such understanding is to stop referring to al Queda as simply a terrorist organization rather than an insurgency. The difference is one of organization and rational planning. Terrorists are not rational nor do they have the networked organization nor organizational skills of bin Laden. Insurgency is not motivated simply out of distrust and dislike of our 'liberal western freedoms.' It is, in the minds of the insurgents, simply fighting what it believes is a defensive war to retain or regain what it feels is rightfully their's. Perception is indeed reality and their perception is that the west is the aggressor against Islam and they do not fight for world domination so much as the prevention of meddling in Muslim lands either by western military and money or by the lukewarm Muslim leaders who cooperate with infidel powers in order to retain their political standing and foreign funding.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Michael Scheuer who worked in the "bin Laden" unit while with the CIA has continued is interest if not constant focus on Osama bin Laden. This is not necessarily a bad thing and in his book we have what is the first objective biography of the man who has declared war on not just the U.S.A. but on all who stand in the way of the teachings of Islam of eight hundred years ago. This includes the Royal Family of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

I found this not to be the normal biography and read more like an intelligence briefing with the end notes being an important part of the book. We get a glimpse of Osama bin Laden the educated businessman, family man, farmer, Islamic solider and lover of nature. All that made him the intelligent and patient adversary Mr. Scheur pro-ports him to be. Along with his short biography is the author insight into the thinking and motivations of Osama bin Laden using the hundreds of pages of documents written by bin Laden himself and those close to him for his research.

We see through the writings and broadcast that Osama bin Laden has laid out his philosophy and plan of action and has done so in a way that the over one billion Muslims of the world can understand his reason based on their cultural and religious history. It is obvious that the author has tremendous respect for his subject yet knows he must be defeated. He points out many of the errors that are made by the western politicians and academia who have completely misread this man and his intentions. Though an insightful analysis and based on many facts there is still interpretations made on subjects that can only be known to the subject.
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