Monday, April 25, 2016

Book 4: The Finish

TITLE: The Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden
AUTHOR: Mark Bowden
STARTED: March 24, 2016
FINISHED: April 17, 2016
PAGES: 266
GENRE: Non-Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: One fall night in western Iraq, as a unit from the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) was executing one of its nightly raids on suspected al Qaeda terrorists, this one a suspected regional commander who called himself "Muthanna," the raiders inadvertently discovered the mother lode.

SUMMARY: [From BN] From Mark Bowden, the preeminent chronicler of our military and special forces, comes The Finish, a gripping account of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. With access to key sources, Bowden takes us inside the rooms where decisions were made and on the ground where the action unfolded. After masterminding the attacks of September 11, 2001, Osama bin Laden managed to vanish. Over the next ten years, as Bowden shows, America found that its war with al Qaeda—a scattered group of individuals who were almost impossible to track—demanded an innovative approach. Step by step, Bowden describes the development of a new tactical strategy to fight this war—the fusion of intel from various agencies and on-the-ground special ops. After thousands of special forces missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the right weapon to go after bin Laden had finally evolved. By Spring 2011, intelligence pointed to a compound in Abbottabad; it was estimated that there was a 50/50 chance that Osama was there. Bowden shows how three strategies were mooted: a drone strike, a precision bombing, or an assault by Navy SEALs. In the end, the President had to make the final decision. It was time for the finish.


THOUGHTS: The title is essentially all the summary you need for this book. There are no surprises or radically new insights in this book. What Bowden has down, however, is to craft a narrative of how all the players came together on that fateful day when Osama Bin Laden was killed. He shows the back-stories and storylines of Bin Laden, Obama, and other key players in the raid. He tracks how each encountered one another throughout their lives and ultimately ended up meeting (rhetorically of course) in life.

As always, Bowden continues to show why he is my favorite non-fiction author. His prose always reads and moves like fiction. There is just enough detail to keep you interested, but the text never enters info dump territory. Bowden truly is the ideal writer to start with if you've never been a fan of non-fiction.

RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]

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