- File Size: 25808 KB
- Print Length: 391 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0804139547
- Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (February 2, 2016)
- Publication Date: February 2, 2016
- Sold by: Random House LLC
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0804139555
- ISBN-13: 978-0804139557
- ASIN: B00ONUYDN8
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #724,453 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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United States of Jihad: Who Are America's Homegrown Terrorists, and How Do We Stop Them? Kindle Edition
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A New York Times Editors' Choice
“Mr. Bergen writes with authority and range... His profiles of jihadists... leave the reader with a harrowing appreciation of the banality of evil and an unnerving sense of missteps made by the authorities... Mr. Bergen’s detailed accounts of terror plots (both executed, foiled or failed) make for chilling reading.”
—MICHIKO KAKUTANI, NEW YORK TIMES
“Excellent... Bergen’s book is the best one-volume treatment available on the current state of jihad in America.”
—JANET NAPOLITANO, NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
“Peter Bergen is a skilled and sensitive reporter with unparalleled access to the law-enforcement and intelligence communities... He has written what in effect are two books about terrorism. Both are valuable. One is a riveting, thoroughly researched account of the evolving state of the threat as a growing number of American citizens join the ranks of foreign terrorist movements—and of how U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement agencies are addressing the constantly shifting threat. The other is a skilled defense of... the Obama administration’s anti-terror effort: one that attempts to steer between the perceived extremes of panicky overreaction and a failure to acknowledge how politically and socially devastating terror attacks can be.”
—WALTER RUSSELL MEAD, WALL STREET JOURNAL
“Peter Bergen... one of America's most prominent terrorism experts, makes a compelling and often unsettling case that, in the years since Sept. 11, 2001, Islamist terrorism in the United States has metamorphosed... The transformation of domestic jihadism has not only dispersed the Islamist terrorist threat but in a perverse process of cultural intermingling has partly Americanized jihad itself. The 'soft power' appeal of American culture is often considered to be one of this country's most enduring assets, but the new admixture of jihadi terror and pop culture savoir faire potentially turns this idea on its head... Bergen takes a generally skeptical view of the growth of the post-9/11 national security state and of the fear-mongering about Islam that has increasingly transfixed the darker crannies of American politics. This skepticism, I think, is not only strategically and morally sound but also borne out by the facts.”
—LOS ANGELES TIMES
“There’s drama in the cases Bergen relates... He makes a highly reliable guide on the road to the present day.”
—KARL VICK, TIME MAGAZINE
“A crisply methodical detailing of the types of people and attacks involved in Islam-inspired terrorism here and abroad… Bergen knows his topic extremely well."
“Disturbing and topical… [United States of Jihad] is an engrossing and edifying book… It is to Bergen’s immense credit that, without downplaying the threat of Islamist terrorism—home-grown or directed at America by groups abroad—he refrains from overstating it and attempts to maintain perspective… The author deserves kudos for simultaneously recognizing the potential of secular Muslims—who are too often ignored—to change people’s attitudes.”
“Bergen pulls you in with snappy, conversational writing... exploding some of the easy assumptions about jihadists in the United States.”
“Bergen, who has interviewed convicted terrorists, their families and friends and people working across the counterterrorism profession, is the most sober guide to the subject one could hope for….But Bergen also has an eye for the human factor, which makes this book, for all its horror, humane. ‘Jihadization’ is usually a great blow to the families of the person involved, and Bergen presents poignant family portraits.”
—THE GLOBE AND MAIL
“Gripping… There is much to commend in Mr. Bergen’s important book. Readers will benefit from his astute observations, based on numerous case studies… [Mr. Bergen] offers a sobering assessment that should not be overlooked.”
“Bergen’s book provides sobering reading in a feverish U.S. political climate.”
—AL JAZEERA AMERICA
“Bergen has been at the forefront of reporting on terrorism for more than 20 years. In this innovative and illuminating work... Bergen explores nearly every aspect of terrorist activity, from ISIS’ use of social media to the FBI’s development of behavioral profiles that identify potential terror activists. Both balanced and galvanizing, Bergen’s meticulous portrait of violent extremism is required reading for anyone who truly wants to understand the nature of the evolving threats from within and without.”
—BOOKLIST (starred review)
“Bergen calmly and lucidly examines the diverse stories of the more than 300 people in the United States who have been charged with jihadist terrorist crimes since September 11, 2001. His nuanced insights, couched within a series of gripping narratives, offer readers a solid foundation to knowledgeably face the barrage of political opinions being flung about by many Americans this election year… Highly recommended for all readers seeking an informed view of current events.”
“There are a number of fine scholars of jihad, but no one matches Peter Bergen in clarity and wisdom, qualities abundantly on display in this valuable book.”
—LAWRENCE WRIGHT, author of The Looming Tower and Going Clear
“Nobody burrows deeper into the horrifying world of organized terror, uncovering harrowing stories of near-misses and fatal attacks, than Peter Bergen. And nobody analyzes this fraught subject with such calm, careful rigor. His portrait of the terrorists next door and the agents who hunt them is worthy of Homeland—except that it’s all too real.”
—FRANKLIN FOER, author of How Soccer Explains the World
“Peter Bergen has become one of America’s most important analysts of Islamist militancy and terrorism. Here he again provides a timely, sober study of the diverse and fragmentary character of homegrown violent jihadists. He places the scale of the threat into accurate perspective without minimizing its dangers. Every American should read this book.”
—STEVE COLL, author of Ghost Wars and Private Empire
“A fascinating and vitally important look at the rise of American jihadists. Brilliantly reported and researched, this is an essential book for anyone who wants to understand why hundreds of Americans have turned to radical Islam.”
“It is hard to imagine a timelier book than this one. Peter Bergen does what he does best—telling mesmerizing stories that weave together exhaustive research to illuminate a critically important subject. He shows us that the Americans among us who turn to jihad are not who we imagine, suggesting ways in which we can be simultaneously more humane and more secure.”
—ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER, author of The Idea That Is America; president and CEO of New America
“With his latest book, Peter Bergen shows once again that he has become the premier chronicler of jihadism in the twenty-first century. Read it and come away with a new understanding of America and of terrorism.”
—THOMAS E. RICKS, author of The Generals and Fiasco
“In this incisive book Peter Bergen answers many questions about terrorism that preoccupy Americans today. Why does extremism appeal to some young Muslims in America? What is the nature and scope of the threat? Rich in detail and eminently readable, this unique book explains both the challenge of terrorism and the turmoil in the Muslim heartland that fuels it.”
—VALI NASR, author of The Dispensable Nation; Dean, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins --This text refers to the paperback edition.
About the Author
Bergen is the author of four previous books about terrorism, including three New York Times bestsellers and three Washington Post nonfiction books of the year. His books have been translated into twenty languages and made into four documentaries, and his writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post ,the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, Time, Foreign Affairs, Vanity Fair, and elsewhere. In 1997, as a producer for CNN, Bergen produced Osama bin Laden's first television interview, in which bin Laden declared war against the United States for the first time to a Western audience.
He lives in Washington, DC, with his wife, documentary producer Tresha Mabile, and his children, Pierre and Grace. --This text refers to the paperback edition.
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Of equal note, Bergen also questions some of the counter-terrorism tactics that have landed these people in jail such as FBI sting operations that basically provide them the means and support to carry out attacks in the United States that they probably would not have had, if not for the FBI. It is one of those rare philosophical terrorism questions: does adherence to an ideology make one a terrorist or is it ideology + means to carry out a threat that make a terrorist?
A very briskly paced book that leaves the reader a lot to think about.
The book focuses on attacks by Americans who have become violent after following radical Muslim leaders who advocate violence. This is balanced in many important ways, including:
-A comparison to terrorist attacks by anarchists, Christians and others, which equal in number the attacks by Muslims
-A comparison to handgun violence, to put the relatively small number of deaths by terrorist attacks of all kinds into perspective
The book is quite current, even including events in December, 2015.
I thought I would complain that he had glossed over the normal use of the word jihad in Muslim parlance, but by the end of the book Bergen had handled that subject well. (Jihad refers to any kind of struggle, such as a struggle to do the right thing, a war on cancer, etc.)
My only complaint is that he skipped over the greatest acts of terrorism on U.S. soil: the acts by the KKK and others against African American communities in which many thousands have died.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the actual cases of Muslim-inspired violence on American soil.
Alternating between stories of individual terrorists and the anti-terrorist response and analysis, he details a profile that psychologists and researchers others have created. Newer thinking contradicts myths such as such as that most terrorists are young, uneducated, and unattached -- actually the majority are slightly older, many are married and have families including children, and half have at least some university education, most often in the sciences or engineering. The most recent thinking about tracking the background of terrorists: mostly male (although increasingly women are becoming part of jihad), aged between 15 and 35, generally well educated, generally relatively comfortable in their upbringing, many growing up in nonobservant families or other religions. Some kind of trigger -- loss of job, experiencing racism, death of family member, moral outrage about international affairs -- often began the process of radicalization in terms of turning to fundamentalism. However, studies seem to show that it takes fundamentalist views become politicized, and potential terrorists isolating themselves from families, friends, and mosques considered too "liberal," for the process to ramp up. Interestingly, the stage of disaffection often occurs as a direct result of religious radicalization; fundamentalist Islam hugely restricts the types of jobs a believer can take and still be within the bounds of a "true" fundamentalist Muslin, so that some men who held down quite high--paying jobs previously ended up dramatically underemployed with no foreseeable way to progress financially. One final step is bonding with other extremists, either through travel abroad, homegrown activities, or the internet.
Bergen has a few stories in which cousins, siblings, or close friends begin the process of radicalization together, but only one goes on to plot terrorists acts or actively join ISIS. The differences in these situations were fascinating; some people actually become unradicalized, and it seems that would be a really fruitful field of study in terms of countering ISIS propaganda and recruitment fantasies.
One major chapter focuses on the strategies of tracking and foiling terrorists. Bergen lays out the ways that police departments, the FBI, and other government organizations have attempted to combat potential terrorist threats, pointing out their successes and also their many failures, including discussing both in relation to surveillance and drone strikes. He points out attacks thwarted, attacks that took all officials by surprise, and overly aggressive entrapment and arrest policies which resulted in a dragnet for people who, according to all evidence, were never really a threat.
He ends with a potent discussion of the outsize fear of terrorists within the US -- including both an underestimation of the threat of the far right and "historical amnesia" about the the height of terrorist attacks in the US in the 1970s -- and warms of the dangers of anti-Muslim sentiment so prominent in the current political climate. He is not attempting the argue that there is no threat, but merely to say that the threat is greatly overblown by conspiracy theorists, right wing media, rigid ideologies, a lack of historical perspective, and the disparity between expert evaluations of risk and the fears of ordinary people.
The final pages of the book, which offer a bit of hope, are too brief for my liking; they focus on Islamic scholars and clerics banding together to condemn violence, religious intervention made in person by real scholars, and instances where parents of terrorists and relatives of victims have come together to speak against both Islamic fanaticism and Islamophobia. I would have liked to see this final section much expanded. There is a huge need for publicizing this type of response to homegrown jihad and not simply focusing obsessively on the acts of terrorism themselves.
Worth anyone’s time who is interested in the subjects of national security and the history of modern terrorism
The person who said it was a republish from 2009 clearly did not read the same book I just did.
Top international reviews
Politicians should read more of the history books but I am not sure how deeply thhey read or think.