Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker
The Untold Story of America's Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda
Time Books 2011
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Military HistoryNew Books in National SecurityNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network October 25, 2013 Mark Lauchs
There are many books about the war against Al Qaeda. Most of these focus on counter-terrorism or counter insurgency military tactics or espionage operations. These books have become more frequent with the death of Osama Bin Laden. Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda (Times Books, 2011) is more than you can expect from its competitors. Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker have been reporting on this issue for many years and cover the topic from a number of angles. Most importantly they are the first to give full recognition to the non-military methods used to counter Al Qaeda. They recognize that there is an intellectual chess game at play as well as the brute force of military intervention or drone strikes. Subtle and patient schemes are being used by US governments to undermine the social networks and social capital of the terrorist group. Ploys are used to coax key figures out of hiding. Counter propaganda campaigns are waged to break down support from potential sources of new members. As well as covering the broader and nuanced techniques, the authors also have a clear understanding of the nature of the terrorist threat. Al Qaeda is a terrorist group but not all terrorists are in Al Qaeda. They recognize that this is a group with a unique history and specific goals that needs non-generic responses to break down its strengths. Al Qaeda still exists but is not what it once was. It has weakened but adapted. Schmitt and Shanker provide an excellent coverage of recent history that will allow you to get a more insightful understanding of counter terrorism in modern America.