Donald HolbrookOct 3, 2014
The Al-Qaeda Doctrine
The Framing and Evolution of the Leadership's Public Discourse
Donald Holbrook'sThe Al-Qaeda Doctrine: The Framing and Evolution of the Leadership's Public Discourse (Bloomsbury, 2014)represents a significant scholarly contribution to the study of Al-Qaeda and Islamic terrorism more broadly. Through a remarkably exhaustive, longitudinal study of over 260 public statements from Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden, Dr. Holbrook exposes Al-Qaeda's ideology, grievances, objectives, and inconsistencies. He brings a level of rigor to this subject which is frequently absent in "expert" studies on terrorism, having databased and coded Al-Qaeda communiques for a variety of topics and characteristics. The Al-Qaeda Doctrine will likely become the definitive scholarly monograph on the subject for many years to come. Holbrook's work is indeed becoming more relevant every day, as ideological ruptures emerge in the jihadist community, most recently evidenced by the Al-Qaeda leadership's furious response to the Islamic State's newly declared caliphate. The book's assessment of Al-Qaeda's success - indeed its lack thereof - in propagating its message and inspiring a "vanguard" in the Muslim world is also notable; The Al-Qaeda Doctrine's sober analysis of this, and many other topics, is a welcome refreshment from the sometimes sensationalist treatment which this topic is prone to. I highly recommend The Al-Qaeda Doctrine to students, scholars, and practitioners alike, all of whom will glean many valuable insights from Holbrook's unique work. I look forward to further publications by Holbrook, as well as fresh additions to Bloomsbury's New Directions in Terrorism Studies series.