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THE EXILE

THE STUNNING INSIDE STORY OF OSAMA BIN LADEN AND AL QAEDA IN FLIGHT

A tour de force of investigative research.

Trusted British journalists offer a treasure trove of research about the al-Qaida network, from before 9/11 to the ramifications following Osama bin Laden’s takedown.

Award-winning foreign correspondents and investigative reporters, formerly at the Sunday Times and the Guardian, longtime collaborators Scott-Clark and Levy (The Siege: 68 Hours Inside the Taj Hotel, 2013, etc.) fashion a chronological, massively detailed assessment of al-Qaida’s intimate workings, from its founding in 1988 to bin Laden’s death in May 2011. There are numerous layers to this minute chronicle, including the American government’s “cherry-picked history” of events—as was delineated, for example, in the Hollywood film Zero Dark Thirty (“materially wrong in many ways”). Here, the authors give a true sense of how the painstaking tracking of bin Laden over the years, and especially to his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, led finally to his death. Indeed, the man simply known as the Sheikh was ultimately compromised by his love of family—his many wives and numerous children he lived with burdened his custodians and couriers, who were burned out by having to deal with his growing family and demands—and his final wish to be reunited with his favored, highly educated third wife, Khairiah, who was brought to the Abbottabad compound in deep secrecy in February 2011 to help him draft his broadcasts on the anniversary of 9/11. Bin Laden and company were forced to make numerous dangerous moves since being flushed out of the Tora Bora, Afghanistan, caves by the American invasion in late 2001, and the Bush administration government was strengthening its rendition and torture program under Dr. James Mitchell in the early 2000s, and the Pakistani military was working with the CIA to apprehend “high-value” targets. Meanwhile, the Taliban leadership helped the bin Laden family shelter in Iran and elsewhere. At the beginning of this meticulously detailed account, the authors provide a helpful map and a 14-page “Cast List.”

A tour de force of investigative research.

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62040-984-8

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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