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DISRUPTION

INSIDE THE LARGEST COUNTERTERRORISM INVESTIGATION IN HISTORY

An outstanding contribution to the literature of terrorism and counterterrorism.

A journalist specializing in national security issues details the investigation and frustration of a major al-Qaida terrorist attack.

The events of 9/11 constituted America’s most significant terrorist attack, and Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower delivered a brilliant account of its background. Americans may be vaguely aware of 7/7, the British equivalent. On July 7, 2005, three suicide bombers blew themselves up on the London Tube, a fourth on a London bus. All were British subjects. In a bizarre and unrelated follow-up, five men attempted a repeat two weeks later. One changed his mind, and four poorly designed bombs fizzled. Peritz delivers vivid accounts of these attacks, but he has bigger fish to fry. The masterminds of the second attack (among the thousands of British nationals traveling back and forth from Pakistan), seeking to learn from their mistakes, planned a larger suicide operation with better bombs to be detonated aboard trans-Atlantic passenger planes. By this time in 2006, British security was paying close attention, with the assistance of the far larger and more pugnacious American CIA, whose doctrine was that there would never be another 9/11. More concerned with civil rights, the British aimed to gather information that would stand up in a courtroom, so they (and the author) meticulously followed and observed the plotters. Unexpectedly, the CIA jumped the gun by arresting the leader in Pakistan, forcing the British to round up everyone in London. As a result, the subsequent trials did not turn out as well as expected, although many defendants received long prison terms. Readers will struggle to remember Peritz’s vast cast of characters as well as the minutiae of their movements, but his massive research and interviews tell a gripping story with a more or less happy ending. The plot was foiled, and Western security agencies have gotten their acts together so that mass (but not individual) terrorist attacks are less likely.

An outstanding contribution to the literature of terrorism and counterterrorism.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64012-380-9

Page Count: 408

Publisher: Potomac Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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WHAT THIS COMEDIAN SAID WILL SHOCK YOU

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

The comedian argues that the arts of moderation and common sense must be reinvigorated.

Some people are born snarky, some become snarky, and some have snarkiness thrust upon them. Judging from this book, Maher—host of HBO’s Real Time program and author of The New New Rules and When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden—is all three. As a comedian, he has a great deal of leeway to make fun of people in politics, and he often delivers hilarious swipes with a deadpan face. The author describes himself as a traditional liberal, with a disdain for Republicans (especially the MAGA variety) and a belief in free speech and personal freedom. He claims that he has stayed much the same for more than 20 years, while the left, he argues, has marched toward intolerance. He sees an addiction to extremism on both sides of the aisle, which fosters the belief that anyone who disagrees with you must be an enemy to be destroyed. However, Maher has always displayed his own streaks of extremism, and his scorched-earth takedowns eventually become problematic. The author has something nasty to say about everyone, it seems, and the sarcastic tone starts after more than 300 pages. As has been the case throughout his career, Maher is best taken in small doses. The book is worth reading for the author’s often spot-on skewering of inept politicians and celebrities, but it might be advisable to occasionally dip into it rather than read the whole thing in one sitting. Some parts of the text are hilarious, but others are merely insulting. Maher is undeniably talented, but some restraint would have produced a better book.

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781668051351

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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WHAT WENT WRONG WITH CAPITALISM

Sure to generate debate, and of special interest to adherents of free market capitalism.

A book-length assertion that capitalism’s woes can be traced to government interventionism.

Sharma, an investments manager, financial journalist, and author of The 10 Rules of Successful Nations, The Rise and Fall of Nations, and other books, opens with the case of his native India. The author argues that it should be in a better position in the global marketplace, possessing an entrepreneurial culture and endless human capital. The culprit was “India’s lingering attachment to a state that overpromises and under-delivers,” one that privileged social welfare over infrastructure development. Much the same is true in the U.S., where today “President Joe Biden is promising to fix the crises of capitalism by enlarging a government that never shrank.” Refreshingly, Sharma places just as much blame on Ronald Reagan for the swollen state that introduced distortions into the market. Moreover, “flaws that economists blame on ‘market failures,’ including wealth inequality and inordinate corporate power, often flow more from government excesses.” One distortion is the government’s bloated debt, as it continues to fund itself by borrowing in order to pay for “the perennial deficit.” As any household budget manager would tell you, debt is ultimately unsustainable. Wealth concentration is another outcome of government tinkering that has, whether by design or not, concentrated wealth into the hands of a very small number of people, “a critical symptom of capitalism gone wrong, both inefficient and grossly unfair.” Perhaps surprisingly, Sharma notes that in quasi-socialist economies such as the Scandinavian nations, such interventions are fewer and shallower, while autocratic command economies are doomed to fail. “[T]oday every large developed country is a full-fledged democracy,” he writes, and the more freedom the better—but that freedom, he argues, is undermined by the U.S. government, which has accrued “the widest budget deficit in the developed world.”

Sure to generate debate, and of special interest to adherents of free market capitalism.

Pub Date: June 11, 2024

ISBN: 9781668008263

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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