- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Free Press; First Printing (Numerals Begin with 1) edition (October 4, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1451609213
- ISBN-13: 978-1451609219
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 76 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#1,820,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #564 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > International & World Politics > Arms Control
- #3180 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Specific Topics > Globalization
- #3381 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Specific Topics > Terrorism
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Terrorists in Love: The Real Lives of Islamic Radicals Hardcover – October 4, 2011
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Amazon Exclusive: Ken Ballen on Terrorists in Love
Terrorists in Love defies conventional thinking. Even though I had studied radicals and criminals for most of my career, when I went behind the lines, and got to know some of today's terrorists closely, everything I thought I knew was shattered. That's why I decided to write this book.
I started out as a federal prosecutor, a job in which I convicted international terrorists and then I became a Congressional investigator. From nearly two decades in this line of work, I learned a simple truth: you can really only find out about people by talking to them—in depth and at length.
So I started a non-profit organization to learn what makes people support extremism and spent five years researching and interviewing more than a hundred extremists—-in Pakistan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and throughout the Muslim world.
And what I found surprised even me. From frustrated love to mystical visions, from envy of Americans to blind hatred, here is a world so different from our own, it begs for understanding—-and a different response than what our policy makers have given so far.
I got to know Taliban soldiers, Al Qaeda suicide bombers and extremist leaders, even though I'm American and Jewish. I learned what no amount of torture or confinement of terrorists could ever tell us: what lay within their hearts. These straightforward lessons will help give us all a clearer path to defeat terrorism in our times-—and build better understanding across religions and cultures. --Ken Ballen
"Revealing, often touching interviews with six young Islamic men.… [Their] stories cast a revealing light on an exotic, unfamiliar culture."—Kirkus Reviews
“The 9/11 Commission grappled with the question of what drove the 19 hijackers to their terrorist acts in 2001, but we did not have time to investigate and fully understand their motives. Ken Ballen’s exhaustive research, scores of interviews, and gripping writing make Terrorists in Love a uniquely valuable––and sometimes chilling––behind-the-scenes account of the extreme beliefs that often fuel the actions of jihadist militants.”—Lee H. Hamilton, former Congressman and Co-Chair of the 9/11 Commission
“Ken Ballen has managed the impossible for an American. He has worked his way into the intimate thoughts and frustrations and family conflicts that drove six young Muslims toward the jihadist movement, and he presents his findings in a series of compelling narratives.”—David K. Shipler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Arab and Jew and The Rights of the People: How Our Search for Safety Invades Our Liberties
“It’s simply astonishing how much Ken Ballen, an outsider, penetrated the closed world of Islamic radicals. In a fast moving, absorbing and at times shocking narrative, Ballen destroys stereotypes and defies conventional wisdom by allowing the ‘enemies’ to speak for themselves. America, meet the terrorists, really for the first time. And if you find yourself in the strange position of empathizing with them, don’t recoil in horror, for you might just have stumbled upon that unexpected insight that could help design a more effective response.”—Ammar Abdulhamid, former Islamic radical and leading pro-democracy activist in the Arab world
“Many authors write about terrorism. Ken Ballen took the rare step of talking directly to terrorists. If you want to understand them, read their stories, in their own words. By giving them voice, this book offers a rarely-seen glimpse into another world, the world of terrorists, not just terrorism.”—Philip Mudd, Former Deputy Director of the Counterrorism Center at the CIA, former Senior Intelligence Advisor for the FBI, and Senior Global Advisor, Oxford Analytica
“A valuable, even-handed and insightful window into the mindsets and emotions of jihadi terrorists. Ballen draws a telling portrait of the human side of terrorists, from childhood traumas to moments of transformation to radicalism and, in some cases, to renunciation of terrorists cause. A compelling, if at times frightening study, one that should be read by anyone interested in the roots––and possible deterrents––of terrorism.”—Karen Greenberg, author of The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo’s First 100 Days
“Terrorists in Love shatters the dominant dispassionate treatment of modern day Islamic purveyors of death and destruction and instead offers a profoundly intimate portal into the fragile, emotional, even sexual factors that drive their behavior. Ballen blasts past the clichés about what animates terrorists and takes readers to places that no one has gone before. The profiles and revelations in this book are at times as uncomfortable as they are vital to appreciate what lies in the mind of some terrorists. I couldn’t put the book down.”—Steve Clemons, Washington Editor-at-Large, The Atlantic and Senior Fellow & Founder, American Strategy Program
“Deploying techniques developed during his two decades as a prosecutor and investigator, Ken Ballen interviewed more than a hundred Islamist terrorists in depth, evincing from them their inner stories. Here he profiles six of these men, and the results are eye-opening and full of startling implications.”—Daniel Pipes, founder and president of the Middle East Forum, and author of Militant Islam Reaches America
“Ballen not only gets beneath the skin of terrorists, but all the way into their hearts, revealing unimaginable emotional and personal secrets. He has shed surprising light on the never-ending question about militant jihadis––what are they thinking? Anyone who wants to know ought to read this unusual book.”—Jane Mayer, bestselling author of The Dark Side
“An unusual atlas of extremism — a riveting, behind-the-scenes look at the events that turned six young Muslims into terrorists.” —Washington Post
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One reviewer has noted that the six individuals that Mr. Ballen profiled in his book are highly curated and therefore not a scientific example. This is undoubtedly true, but I can think of no better starting point. While not a scientific sample, Mr. Ballen has nevertheless chosen his subjects both from the poor and dispossessed as well as some who are extraordinarily privileged, wealthy, or well-connected. In this sense the limited sample is well-balanced. Also, by Mr. Ballen's own admission, out of 100s that he interviewed, not all were forthcoming, self-aware, or truthful. Who else could he talk to without putting himself in mortal danger?
I can only commend Mr. Ballen for this intriguing and insightful book. I'm sure that a more scientific analysis will follow if such a thing is even possible. I hope that Mr. Ballen will write a new book about terrorists raised as citizens of Western democracies, such as Kouachi brothers, or the British youths who perpetrated the July 2005 bus and subway bombings. These are the types who are keeping public safety officials up at night and how we respond to them may have profound implications for our futures as democracies.
I am sure that the author faced tremendous challenges in meeting the individuals he describes in the book, putting their words into stories and making sense of all the factors that are relevant to their path to and from radicalism. Though it is a book about terrorists, it's not really about terrorism. There was a lot of potential for gruesomeness of war and the tedium of politics or even religion but the author downplays these issues nicely to make the stories about the individuals rather than the greater spectrum of things.
If you are looking for a wordy psychoanalytic breakdown of a terrorists or political or social analysis of the Muslim world, you will probably be disappointed. If you are looking for a counter perspective for these former Al Qaeda followers (like getting the perspective of actual un-renounced or non-rehabilitated Al Qaeda members) you will not find that in this book either. The author notes in the book that he didn't feel like Al Qaeda followers would be honest with him or themselves so he doesn't bother with their stories.
It's a worthy read if you take the book as the stories of men's lives rather than some sort of discussion on terrorists and terrorism as a whole. A unique book.
This is a good bookclub book because it lends itself not only to current events, but also to how we are shaped as children and how we respond to that childhood.