A worthwhile, unique addition to the shelf of post–9/11 memoirs concerning the fight against terrorism.

AMERICAN RADICAL

INSIDE THE WORLD OF AN UNDERCOVER MUSLIM FBI AGENT

The story of an Egyptian-born Muslim FBI agent’s undercover pursuit of Islamist extremists.

Elnoury—who co-wrote this book with Maurer, co-author of No Easy Day: The Autobiography of a Navy Seal: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama Bin Laden (2012)—is clearly aware of the complexities of his life’s mission. Although he was always drawn to law enforcement, spending years in undercover narcotics work in New Jersey, he notes that “Islam was something I practiced privately.” He was understandably outraged on 9/11. “I was angry, embarrassed, and hurt,” he writes. “Some asshole in a cave turned me and my family into the enemy.” The author volunteered his services as a culturally attuned Arabic speaker, realizing that “the FBI was waking up to a new war….They had to adapt to meet a new enemy.” Still, it took years for the FBI to recruit him. “They wanted to see if I could come close to passing the FBI Undercover School,” he writes, and he credits this intensive training with protecting him during his high-risk infiltrations. He developed a “legend” (or cover identity) as a wealthy real estate speculator who’d drifted toward extremism, first ensnaring an Afghan al-Qaida supporter, whose “confession had led to [a] drone strike.” Elnoury then began an elaborate penetration of a small cell determined to commit mass-casualty attacks in the U.S. and Canada. This complex international operation, which makes up much of the narrative arc, resulted in several successful prosecutions. The author reflects compellingly on the challenges of being a Muslim patriot, and he closes with a plea to resist wholesale bigotry: “Banning Muslims from the United States throws gas on the myth that the United States is at war with Islam.” His tale of infiltration is exciting and clearly written, although since he blurs the specifics of actual undercover tradecraft, his reconstructed, dialogue-heavy encounters with jihadist suspects are occasionally repetitive.

A worthwhile, unique addition to the shelf of post–9/11 memoirs concerning the fight against terrorism.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-98615-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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