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Summary

The world’s leading expert on Osama bin Laden delivers for the first time the definitive biography of a man who set the course of American foreign policy for the 21st century, and whose ideological heirs we continue to battle today.

In The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden, Peter Bergen provides the first reevaluation of the man responsible for precipitating America’s long wars with al-Qaeda and its descendants, capturing bin Laden in all the dimensions of his life: as a family man, as a zealot, as a battlefield commander, as a terrorist leader, and as a fugitive. The book sheds light on his many contradictions: He was the son of a billionaire, yet insisted his family live like paupers. He adored his wives and children, depending on two of his wives, both of whom had PhDs, to make important strategic decisions. Yet he also brought ruin to his family. He was fanatically religious, yet willing to kill thousands of civilians in the name of Islam. He inspired deep loyalty yet, in the end, his bodyguards turned against him. And while he inflicted the most lethal act of mass murder in United States history, he failed to achieve any of his strategic goals.

The lasting image we have of bin Laden in his final years is of an aging man with a graying beard watching old footage of himself, just another dad flipping through the channels with his remote. In the end, bin Laden died in a squalid suburban compound, far from the front lines of his holy war. And yet despite that unheroic denouement, his ideology lives on. Thanks to exclusive interviews with family members and associates, and documents unearthed only recently, Bergen’s portrait of Osama will reveal for the first time who he really was and why he continues to inspire a new generation of jihadists.  

©2021 Peter Bergen. All rights reserved. (P)2021 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

What listeners say about The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden

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Down to Earth

A great narrator, and a text that successfully de-mythologises the subject matter. I would recommend this account but, it flows well and avoids the trap of getting too deeply into the ideological details some other accounts, such as "The Looming Towers" gets bogged down in.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Exceptional piece of work

Along with 'The Looming Tower' (Lawrence Wright) the best book I've read on Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. The hinted at US administration tactic having cornered UBL in Tora Bora was so elegantly done. Superb book.

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Very good book

An excellent account of Bin Laden, and the factors leading up to his assassination, and beyond.

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  • Nancy
  • 19-08-21

Well written and exciting

The reader was clear , well modulated. I read reputable newspapers yet gained much knowledge and insights from the book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mohamed Imthiyaz
  • 07-08-21

I think it was great

Waited to read about the great terrorist, listened to the full story in on stretch without sleep.

2 people found this helpful

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  • GM
  • 12-08-21

Outstanding!

Brilliant, authoritative, engaging. But an embarassing mistake should be fixed--Barak Obama was inaugurated in January (NOT June) of 2009.

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  • K Martin
  • 16-09-21

Not great narration

I found the narration too emphatic, too much intonation or something, for what is actually a very low key account.

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  • Irwin
  • 15-09-21

well done; well read

How the mighty are brought low. Bin Laden was rendered powerless by the us response.

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  • Ray
  • 04-09-21

RIVETING

Bergen's Holy War Inc next! Happy he will narrate. This narrator intonation wrong; too sing-song.