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Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama Bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America [Paperback]

Michael Scheuer

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Book Description

14 Feb 2008
This seminal work on modern terrorism assesses the changes and continuities in Osama bin Laden's thinking since 2002. In order to win the war against terrorism, argues Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA's bin Laden Unit, we must first stop dismissing militant Muslims as "extremists" or "religious fanatics." Formulating a successful military strategy requires that we see the enemy as they perceive themselves - highly trained and motivated soldiers who believe their cause is righteous. Scheuer shows that the war has accelerated the transformation of bin Laden and al Qaeda from man and organization to, respectively, a symbol of leadership and heroism and a worldwide movement.

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Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama Bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America + Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror + Osama bin Laden
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"[Scheuer]'s examination of al Qaeda is a bracing corrective to much that has passed as analysis about the group." - CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen in the Washington Post "A masterful job at... interpreting what bin Laden is trying to tell America but that has fallen on deaf ears." - Studies in Conflict and Terrorism "Among the 'war on terrorism cognoscenti' in and around Washington, D.C., mere word-of-mouth established [Through Our Enemies Eyes] as required reading for anyone seeking to understand bin Laden, the movement that he cofounded and led, and the profound threat that it posed (and continues to pose) to the United States and to international peace. Accordingly, the book's reputation spread as a thoroughly reliable, trenchant, and commendably clear exegesis of al Qaeda's ideology, goals, and alarming ambitions.... The key to success in warfare, the Chinese strategist Sun Tzu wrote, is to 'know your enemy and you will know yourself.' In Through Our Enemies Eyes, Scheuer answers the first part of that irrefutable formulation." - From the foreword by Bruce Hoffman, senior fellow, Combating Terrorism Center, U.S. Military Academy, and author of Inside Terrorism "[Scheuer's] examination of al Qaeda is a bracing corrective to much that has passed as analysis about the group." - CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen in the Washington Post "A highly informative analysis." - The Washington Times "A masterful job at... interpreting what bin Laden is trying to tell America but that has fallen on deaf ears." - Studies in Conflict and Terrorism "A sobering portrait of Osama bin Laden." - The Christian Science Monitor "This is a book that all professional soldiers should read since it represents, in significant detail, the views and motivation of one of our primary adversaries, while clearly defining the severity of the ongoing threat." - Armor"

About the Author

Bestselling author Michael Scheuer is the former head of the CIA's Bin Laden Unit and has two decades of experience in national security issues related to Afghanistan and South Asia. After resigning from the agency in November 2004, he revealed his authorship of Imperial Hubris and Through Our Enemies' Eyes (Brassey's, Inc., 2002; Potomac Books, Inc., 2005), both originally published under the byline "Anonymous." Scheuer has been featured extensively on television, including 60 Minutes, and has been the focus of print media worldwide. He lives in the Washington, D.C., area.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  58 reviews
63 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, an expertly written book on Bin Laden 21 Jun 2002
By Tomecide - Published on
After reading numerous books by so-called "terrorism experts," I was worried that the bookshelves would sadly fill with ill-informed literary diarrhea about one of today's most important issues. This book, however, provides a refreshing and skillful account of the rise of bin Ladin and Sunni extremism. Unlike other authors who churn out manuscripts with little substantive experience in the matter on which they are writing, the author obviously works in the intelligence community on counterterrorism issues. Most other books about bin Ladin are nothing more than a collection of warrants and press clippings, but this book provides substantive analysis of bin Ladin's pinnacle role in the rise of global terrorism. This is by far the best book I have read on the subject and I strongly recommend it to anyone who wants to have a better understanding of what the country was facing prior to September 11, 2001. It also provides an alarming look at the current threat posed by al-Qaeda and Sunni extremist elements. If you want an uplifting book about how the U.S. Government safely has its hands around the issue of terrorism, this is not the book for you. If you want to learn about what the country is facing and how menacing and developed this new adversary really is, this is the book for you. It is written for the average reader, it is not an academic opus for the over-educated.
112 of 125 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Sobering View of the War on Terrorism 9 Jan 2003
By Newt Gingrich - Published on
This is a remarkable book well worth reading by anyone who wants to know how dangerous our opponents are and how difficult the war with terrorism could get. The author is described as "a senior U.S. intelligence officer with nearly two decades of experience in national security issues related to Afghanistan and South Asia." He was forced to publish the book anonymously because it is so different from the pre-September 11 analysis of his employing agency.
His own disgust with the American intelligence bureaucracy is evident in his acknowledgments when he cites Mark Helprin about men who "knowing very little or next to nothing, take pride in telling everyone else what to do." He continues with praise for young civil servants "whose work ethic, intellectual honesty, and personal courage inspire awe and-if unleashed-are more than match for America's foes, foreign or domestic. Too often, however, their work is stymied by senior officers of my own generation. Mostly men, these senior officers have made careers by keeping silent in the face of unfairness, avoiding risk, and refusing to make decisions . . . Fortunately, most of the Republic's younger civil servants recognize with Helprin that this behavior is `more than a pity, more than a disgrace, it is despicable'" (xiv).
The current strategy of focusing narrowly on Al Qaeda, Bin Laden, and body counts "is the road to disaster, for the positions and force bin Laden has presented are a far more lethal and varied threat than that posed by any of those we have labeled as `terrorists' over the past quarter century. The strength of his personality and message is likely to lead to an enduring legacy that will long survive his departure from the scene" (xvii).
"The forces of bin Laden, then, are waging war on America in God's name; they have made it clear that their goal is not the tactical one of inflicting pain, but the strategic one of defeating the United States `in the same way in which the USSR suffered humiliation at the hands of the Afghan and Arab mujahedin in Afghanistan.' In the United States before the events of 11 September 2001, however, there was almost no recognition that bin Laden's war is well under way. The first step in countering the forces that bin Laden has established is to listen more patiently to what he said in the past and to understand the personal, historical, and geopolitical contexts in which he thought, spoke, and acted" (xviii).
Americans will find this book disturbing in part because the author uses American revolutionary war patriots' words to frame each chapter. His point is to drive home that the sincerity and intensity of our founding fathers can be matched by equal intensity and sincerity in Islam. He is arguing that the movement opposing us has a religious fervor, a systematic intensity, and a willingness to learn and use the advantages of a free society to defeat that very freedom.
This is a sobering view of a deeply religious movement with the passionate commitment of those who are doing God's bidding and a willingness to kill Americans by the millions if they can find the right mechanism with which to do it.
Anyone who reads this book will be deeply sobered by it and will reflect on how much bigger and longer our campaign to defeat the Reactionary Islamists will turn out to be.
54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars By far the best of the countless books on Bin Laden 18 Aug 2004
By C. Catherwood - Published on
This is by far the best of the countless books on Bin Laden (and there are a lot of them...) The author really knows what he is talking about, and since most of it was written BEFORE 9/11 that fact shows all the more why this is so important for every person to read. There is no fancy theorising in this book, and the author also shows that bin Laden really is religious in his motivation - it is his warped interpretation of Islam that is behind all this, and not some ludicrous notion of people hating us for our freedoms. Read it and be truly well informed on the present crisis. Christopher Catherwood, author of CHURCHILL'S FOLLY: HOW WINSTON CHURCHILL CREATED MODERN IRAQ (Carroll and Graf, 2004) and CHRISTIANS MUSLIMS AND ISLAMIC RAGE (Zondervan, 2003)
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling, compelling, and a MUST read for everyone 22 Nov 2004
By Alexander B. Anderson - Published on
This is undoubtedly the finest book on Bin Laden/Al Qaeda out of the countless I have read over the last several years. It is concise, clear, and absolutely terrifying as it makes clear that Al Qaeda is led by an able and charismatic genius who has been able to gather and focus the Muslim world's collective hatred of the United States and our one-sided foreign policy.

The thrust of this treatise is simple. Al Qaeda is smarter than we are (they don't have to win elections and they are not beholden to special interests), they are tougher than we are (aren't you afraid to die?), and they don't care how long it takes to win (Allah is infinitely patient and will be pleased with victory whenever it comes - why does my microwave dinner take so f*&*&%$#$ long to heat up?).

What I found most compelling is that the book is HEAVILY footnoted, quoting Muslim clerics, bin Laden, and other relevant Muslims. So, in other words, it is not some pedantic, crusty white guy lecturing me about why Al Qaeda is evil; rather it is Al Qaeda telling me in their words why they hate me and why they are going to kill me and how all of that is supported by the Koran and driven forward by the ridiculous and inarguably anti-Muslim foreign policy of this, our once great and now downward-trending country.

Whew, what a book. And what a world we live in.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a new/old threat 28 Dec 2004
By Alan D. Cranford - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read "Through Our Enemies' Eyes" while on active duty with the Nevada National Guard in the Middle East. I have spent eight years in this part of the world, and Anonymous has pegged the viewpoint of many people in this region concerning the United States and Osama Bin Laden. Opinion here isn't uniform--but the United States is seen as an outsider.

Osama Bin Laden is not a new type of threat. The Assassin cult in this area was also a stateless movement promoting religious conformity to an ideal--and may have been the force that ended the Islamic empire. Then there was another stateless movement of anarchists, the Terrorists, about 100 years ago. The most successful movement went from stateless to world superpower during the period 1830 to 1990--yes, those Cold War foes of the West, the Communists. The Communists were very much a stateless organization until after the Russian Revolution. Once they established themselves as a national government, the threat of Communism changed. That's why Trotsky was murdered in Mexico--he was trying to export revolution the "old fashioned way" like Bin Laden is doing now. Problem: having a homeland means being a target. Stalin had to kill Trotsky in order to save the Soviet Union.

I have purchased several copies of this book as gifts for friends and relatives still serving in military and government office because this is an important book for their professional bookshelves. My one reservation is that the threat posed by Bin Laden's organization (and the greater threat posed by Bin Laden as a symbol) (and the even greater threat of American myopia) is that Bin Laden is not really something new or different. The author may have chosen to portray Bin Laden as "new" because the current American government mindset--the one that foundered in Vietnam--blinds us to reality in the modern world.
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