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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating - if not always easy - read
Firstly, the listing with ISBN 978 1846 14274 1 is a hardback not a paperback as currently listed by Amazon. I have tried to correct the listing but it has not been amended at the time of writing this review.

This is an excellent book. I have read the detailed newspaper accounts and watched the documentaries - and live news - over the past ten years and often...
Published on 18 Dec. 2011 by Wil Andersen

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1 of 67 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What a waste of time ..writing about a fictional organisation.
It is very difficult to take this book seriously.
1. Osama bin Laden is a fictional creation.
2. Al Qaeda is a fictional creation.

500 pages without realising that Bin Laden was CIA and died in 2001. Hard to take such a book seriously.
Published on 7 Dec. 2011 by RoryQuinn


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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating - if not always easy - read, 18 Dec. 2011
This review is from: The 9/11 Wars (Hardcover)
Firstly, the listing with ISBN 978 1846 14274 1 is a hardback not a paperback as currently listed by Amazon. I have tried to correct the listing but it has not been amended at the time of writing this review.

This is an excellent book. I have read the detailed newspaper accounts and watched the documentaries - and live news - over the past ten years and often found it difficult to understand exactly how events related to each other and who was who and what the real back story was. This is a clear, detailed, and very specific account of 9/11, the world's reaction to it and the consequences of the actions the Americans and the British in particular undertook. Events are precisely described and interpreted - where there is uncertainty this is made clear. The human element is always to the fore - even though there is much also on the politics and the logistics

The notes - all 120 pages of them - are an essential component of the book. The bibliography is also comprehensive and valuable.

My only slight criticism is that it is sometimes a little hard to read - a great wodge of prose thrown at you that you need to work through very slowly and carefully to make sure you have absorbed it. But in many ways it is also the better for that.

Strongly recommended to any with an interest in this subject.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Burke's brilliant essay is a deep, complex, intelligent tour-de-force, 12 Aug. 2012
By 
The Guardian (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The 9/11 Wars (Hardcover)
Jason Burke is a New Delhi-based investigative journalist respected for his long record of insightful analysis into the complex 30-year modern history of global Islamic militancy. He has been a regular correspondent for `The Guardian' and `Observer' newspapers and has several previous books to his name including `Al Qaeda: The True Story of Radical Islam' published in 2004.

`The 9/11 Wars' (pub 09/2011) is a tour-de-force of investigative writing on the subject probably unequalled for thoroughness and original insight. In this somewhat intimidating 500-page tome, Burke weaves together recurrent themes from disparate long-running conflicts in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa to clear the waters of the mud of common misunderstandings about the Islamic world, its simmering internecine wars and how it sees itself. His primary focus is Iraq, Afghanistan and (especially) Pakistan but he also addresses the issue of Europe's sizeable 2nd and 3rd generation Moslem communities; how tradition and modernity are reconciled and how acts of terrorism towards fellow citizen-neighbours in their host communities by a radicalised minority come to be tolerated and justified, taking in the Danish newspaper cartoons controversy, the bombings in Madrid and London, the widespread riots in France in 2005 and the murder of film-maker Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam on 2nd September 2004 by Islamic militant Mohammed Bouyeri (having shot van Gogh eight times at point-blank range, Bouyeri tried to sever his victim's head with a knife as his body lay in a public street).

Burke is no armchair theorist. He personally interviews primary sources whether Taliban tribal leaders, US generals serving in Iraq, displaced refugees in northern Pakistan, failed suicide bombers in Jordan, disillusioned former European jihadists openly revealing their resentment at being used as `cannon fodder' by Al Qaida in Iraq, or the personal motivations of the late Benazir Bhutto. Revealing vignettes and personal stories a-plenty from Kabul, Kandahar, Baghdad and Karachi bring the narrative to life.

Burke demonstrates the disastrous consequences, both for the troops on the ground and for the local populations, of US-led western policies framing the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of `liberation', `bringing democracy' and the `clash-of-civilizations' narrative - this latter straight from the textbook of the Salafi world-view expounded by Mullah Mohammed Omar, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Osama bin Laden. The occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq might have been much easier, even `successful', if only a more enlightened and co-operative approach had been taken, if there had been clear mission objectives and a viable long-term plan. The appalling prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib and other detention centres all over the region helped turn a welcoming, or at least neutral population against the occupiers and made the occupations incomparably more bloody than they might have been. The Hamid Karzai-led government in Kabul Burke found to be widely reviled by the rural population as corrupt, ineffectual, immoral, kleptocratic - and supported by the west. The Taliban by contrast are widely seen to bring consistency, social order and swift justice which, in simple terms, villagers value. `Democracy' is widely seen as a cover for decadence and sexual licence, for a hated secularism, for the imposition of western values and commercial interests and a kind of cultural imperialism. Has PNAC run up a blind alley?

The long chapters on Pakistan reveal a land pulled apart by competing forces, as Burke paints a sombre portrait of "the most dangerous country on Earth." A detailed survey of the social, religious and political attitudes of university students in Islamabad is a real revelation, as is a section on the ungovernable and violent FATA tribal areas in the north. The paranoid attitudes towards India common in Pakistan feed the schizophrenic confrontation/indulgence of the ISI & Pakistani Army to the Afghani and Pakistani Taliban; essentially the Taliban are revealed as a client project of the ISI, supported financially, militarily and politically as a bulwark against potentially hostile neighbours.

One of the most insightful themes examined by the author is how the tension between global and local perspectives among the militants has played out. In the areas of Iraq around Falluja for example, the forces of the radical Jordanian cleric Abu Musab al-Zarqawi were ultimately defeated by local Iraqi sentiment. Former Baathist Sunni militias eventually chose to side with the American military to expel foreign Islamic jihadists who had outstayed any lukewarm welcome they may have initially enjoyed by alienating the local populace with their brutal, insensitive and murderous activities. Burke's detailed examination of these often obscure and complex dynamics bring new and deeper insights, and reveal most analyses from other sources to be shallow and lightweight in comparison.

The book touches on the killing of Osama bin Laden by US Special Forces in Abbottabad in May 2011 - largely welcomed throughout the Islamic world - and likely consequences of the first wave of `Arab Spring' uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya where, as in Iraq, extremist Islamist militancy in each case tried and failed to gain any real traction with the local populace, and was comprehensively defeated in Algeria by populist sentiment.

Overall this is a superb piece of work: detailed, intelligent, knowledgeable, fascinating, surprising - if not exactly light reading. Proofreading is exemplary and the writing style literate and academic, if occasionally a bit dry. There are two sections of pertinent full-colour plates to support the narrative. The only slight criticism might be that the book has the wrong title, in that the September 11th attacks play no direct part in Burke's narrative, though the author constantly refers to these global conflicts as `The 9/11 Wars.' Rather, the wider conflicts and historical context frame the discourse. Burke demonstrates the deaths by violence in Islamist-inspired wars in the past 30 years - beginning with the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1979 up to the epidemic of suicide bombings in Pakistan in recent years - exceed as a conservative estimate 250,000 people, i.e. 100x the death-toll in the 9/11 attacks which therefore pale to insignificance when compared to 30 years of global mayhem. The vast majority of fatalities in recent years result from suicide bombings and IEDs.

Burke suggests that ultimately the global violent-jihadi project has failed and is unlikely to gain further traction, though evidence suggests the violence will subside only slowly, where and when local populations turn against it. He further postulates that these areas of the world look unlikely to become clones of western commercial and economic practice, as one might claim has happened in Japan, South Korea and China and also much of Latin America.

The 160+ pages of notes and bibliography are so extensive as to be in themselves a treasure-trove of information additional to the narrative of the main essay. If a book ever deserved six stars, Burke's truly excellent `The 9/11 Wars' would qualify unconditionally.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Would give this book 10 stars if I could, 30 Sept. 2011
By 
F Henwood "The bookworm that turned" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The 9/11 Wars (Hardcover)
Jason Burke has written an excellent account not of the War on Terror but of the 9/11 wars, the wars mainly fought in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan but by no means confined to these places, wars which in his reckoning have claimed 250,000 lives over the past decade.

The first part of the book deals with the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the attack on Afghanistan and the swift eviction of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Part 2 covers the invasion of Iraq and the slide of the country into civil war. Part 3 turns to Europe in 2005-06, with bombs exploding in London and Madrid and Muslim youths rioting in French cities. Part 4 deals with the Iraq insurgency, while Part 5 covers Pakistan and Afghanistan (again). Part 6 concludes with a survey of the principal theatres of the 9/11 wars and what the future might hold.

Burke rejects the 'clash of civilisations' interpretation of these wars. But having said that, they were still ideological wars. George Bush Jnr. and Tony Blair defined the issues in Manicheistic terms, every bit as much as their opponents did. The disastrous consequences of this thinking were of course realised in Iraq: Iraqis were glad to see the back of Saddam, but this didn't mean they wanted democracy imposed on them at gunpoint. The occupiers failed to appreciate the depth of wounded pride an occupation would entail.

Refracting complex local situations through the lens of counter-terrorism produced further negative consequences. Burke presents overwhelming and damning evidence that the massive use of torture and incommunicado detention sanctioned by the US and indulged by the UK (of which Guantanamo Bay was merely the tip of the iceberg)simply ended up making new enemies of those who might otherwise been supportive, or at the very least neutral. As one Afghan elder, detained for two years in Guantanamo Bay on false charges of being a senior Taliban commander remarked, to inflict an injustice on him was to inflict it on his extended male kin networks - all 300 of them.

The so-called surge in Iraq in 2007 marked a shift not just in tactics but in ideology, a `cultural turn' as Burke puts it: the Americans came to accept a Shia-dominated sectarian democracy, aligned with Iran, in the interests of stability. Iraq now enjoys a fragile, `ugly peace.' To achieve this meant the US and the UK abandoning ambitions to refashion Iraq on the lines of a free market democracy. The country is by no means out of the woods yet - sectarianism runs deep, the embers of an Islamist insurgency still smoulder, infrastructure remains dilapidated.

However, Al-Qaeda's alternative, a messianic vision of a globalised Islam, of a return to a mythical golden age, deracinated from Islam's multiple local understandings and accretions, fared no better. The dream of a pan-Islamic unity, transcending all other identities such as tribe, race, nation and class has failed. Indeed Burke notes the resilience of ` artificial' nation-states like Iraq and Pakistan, the citizens of which still wish to live under the same roof, even when they are killing one another (one notes that the case was the same with Libya. Both sides claimed to be fighting to unite Libya. Partition was a `solution' enthusiastically espoused by Westerners, not Libyans). There is no widespread longing to return to a golden age of a united Ummah.

Radical Islamists authored their own failure: in demanding ever more exacting standards of pious purity, they slaughtered fellow believers whom they considered insufficiently devout. Bombings by Islamists claimed the lives of the faithful in Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other places, turning popular opinion against the Jihadists, to the detriment of the global aims of Al-Qaeda.

A representative example of this was the Jordanian-born sadistic thug Abu Musab al-Zarqawi , Al-Qaeda's leading man in Iraq: initially aligned with anti-American insurgents, he and his men's growing insistence on subordinating the local, national aims of the insurgency to pan-Islamic ones, their strictures against smoking, watching Egyptian soap operas, and trying it on with local women, led to open conflict between Iraqi nationalists and foreign Jihadists, a conflict that the latter were bound to lose. Al-Zarqawi himself died in an American air strike. If Al-Qaeda could not establish itself in the chaos and mayhem of Iraq, it wasn't going to establish itself anywhere.

Meanwhile, the riots of French Muslim youths in 2005 did not herald the beginning of a dreaded European Intifada, but was an expression of a local French difficulty, albeit a very serious one. The defining issue was not the global Jihad, but the shortfall between ideal and reality in French notions of citizenship. Talk of Europe being swamped by Muslims is hype: Muslim birth rates are falling in line with native birth rates.

Does this mean we can breathe easily, then? Well, not quite. Afghanistan continues its descent into chaos. The West does not have the means nor the will to stamp out a renascent Pashtun Taliban insurgency, feared and loathed by other groups in the country. The future is anything but bright. Pakistan, a nuclear-armed state, lurches from crisis to crisis, and plays a double game with militants in Afghanistan and its own Wild West, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (which gets a whole chapter in the book, entitled tellingly `Another Country'). There is little evidence that the rise of a middle class in the country correlates with greater acceptance of secular, liberal values. The same can be said for much of the Islamic world. Even though Al-Qaeda as an organisation is a spent force, it is still capable of franchising its `brand' among groups or individuals, disaffected and difficult to detect. This does not mean that they pose an existential threat to the very survival of democratic society but the threat of fresh outrages is a hazard we are going to have to live with indefinitely.

The book covers a lot of ground, and unpicks a variety of issues with great dexterity. I came away with some of my own assumptions challenged and no doubt you will likewise, if you choose to read it. For instance, I had assumed the Pakistani Madrasas provided much of the Taliban's cannon fodder. This is too simple. While many of these schools provide a hideously bigoted and distorted version of education, many Pakistani militants are likely to have been educated in government schools (pp. 347-349). Likewise, I learned that the CIA did not fund Bin Laden or `create' Al-Qaeda as is often claimed: the foundation of Al-Qaeda was not the result of American intervention in any way (p.20).

When it's noted that a book is written by a journalist, the observation is frequently derogatory. Jason Burke is of course a journalist but this is not the work of a hack with an axe to grind. He dispenses with the ideological platitudes of both right and left. If you are looking for a denunciation of `Islamophobia' or' Islamofascism', or confirmation of your favourite conspiracy theory, you will not find it here. Instead he has written a first-class empirical analysis, based on immersion in both primary sources and secondary literature, on numerous interviews with academics, diplomats, insurgents, police, soldiers, spies and (failed) suicide bombers, and on first-hand experience of many of the events about which he is writing, which adds additional authority. All other books written by the `hacks' are left in the shade by Burke. They shouldn't write or speak another word about the 9/11 wars until they have read this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keenly observed and subtly nuanced, 13 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: The 9/11 Wars (Kindle Edition)
The author explores in depth the West's post 9/11 relationship with the Islamic world (in fact he shows how the monochrome view the West often has of the Islamic world is itself highly suspect - there are many 'Islamic worlds'). In so doing, Jason Burke avoids the lazy assumptions of both Left and Right to show a complex and still evolving picture. No easy answers, but much food for thought.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Magnificent Work, but One That Is Too Unmanageable to Read in Paperback Form: Get the Hardback Edition!, 29 Sept. 2012
By 
Gerald Parker "Gerald Parker" (Rouyn-Noranda, QC., Dominion of Canada) - See all my reviews
Jason Burke`s "9/11 Wars" is as near-absolutely superb and definitive as any study of such recent and controversial history (experienced directly on site) can be. However, rather than to discuss the content of this book, which some other users on Amazon`s U.S. and on other Amazon national WWW sties have done quite well, here these comments limit themselves, for now, to dissuading most readers from acquiring this grand and massive work in its paperback form. This an example of an exceedingly important work for which its inappropriate reification as a physical object is a crippling handicap. As received, its ISBN and the extent of the book`s pagination differs quite considerably from what the Amazon Canada description indicates. The real pagination of the volume (in the Penguin Books "Allen Lane" line) for this trade paperback edition (ISBN 978-1-846-14517-9), as the publisher prints it upon the pages of the volume that this user received, is: xi, 709 p., excluding the unpaginated illustrations, thus considerably more extensive than the estmated pagination (at a wildly inaccurate toll of merely "500 pages") in the Amazon entry for the book.

Unless one is going to read Burke`s study seated at a desk or in an armchair, the book simply is unmanageable. The notes alone are extraordinary for amplitude as well as for their quality and pertinence, but with so many of them referenced per page, it is an ordeal to keep turning back and forth from text to references several times each page. (An high proportion of the references are substantive, not purely bibliographical in nature, making them all the more essential to read.) One, really, has to hold the book in BOTH hands at ALL times (unless one is a mutant with an extra limb who can hold it in THREE hands simultaneously!) while reading it.

If that is how one reads all (or most) of the time, it can be done. In a library, of course, one would sit holding the book with both hands, at a armchair or, much better, on a chair before a desk or table top. However, to prop up this humongous paperback edition and to negotiate its great girth in any other position or manner, is arduous and discouraging. Hard covers, on the other hand, even with a glue binding, facilitate using Jason Burke`s book, despite the fact that what serves to bind the pages between those hard covers, as also in the work`s paperback edition, is merely the tough glue adhesive holding the book`s pages together. Stitched thread signatures (groups) of pages sewn to each other, by contrast, would have resulted in greater flexibility to lay the book open flat. At any rate, the rigid covers of the hardback edition are strong enough to bear the pressure of a bookstand grasping or fastening the book at each end while the reader is busy thrashing away, flapping back and forth through its pages fore and aft; with lighter paperback covers, by contrast, one quickly can demolish the book while handling it during reading.

The print-type is so small that both text and notes are difficult for all but young, maximally functioning reader`s eyes to take in with any ease. Howeverer if the print had been any larger, of course, the book would have been even bulkier than it already is. This may be a book which could have profited either from use of even thinner paper (e.g., "onion-skin" paper of the type often used in fine quality Bibles), to reduce the volume`s bulk, or from publishing in two tomes rather than in a single volume.

The work`s content is Amazon 5-stars all the way, four of them here only due to the unmanageable paperback format. The writing is vivid, the perspectives, whether "close-up" vignettes or more "wide-scope" reportage of what takes place as the author recounts it, in both cases resolutely grip the reader`s attention. Get the book, but obtain it in hardback (as this reader has done, reluctantly and ruefully, after having purchased the paperback edition), despite its much greater cost!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The 9/11 Wars, 26 Sept. 2011
By 
V. Morgan "A Sad Boring Pedant ..." (York, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The 9/11 Wars (Hardcover)
Burke has produced another thoughtful, erudite and comprehensive masterpiece.

His careful, balanced and illuminating writing provides a masterful history of the 9/11 wars. He is careful to
show where things went went right as well as the dreadful consequences of there things went wrong.

While there may be no revelations or shocks here the entire story is told with attention to detail whilst retaining
a good pace that keeps the pages turning. It's a depressing, inspiring and illuminating read that covers social, economic,
political, martial and religious aspects of this war.... and worryingly offers no real prospect to an end to this mess.

Cannot praise this book this highly enough...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very informative, 7 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: The 9/11 Wars (Kindle Edition)
Excellent coverage of the" war on terror" right up to
the present day.Jason Burke takes you from 9/11
on a journey from New York across the middle east
and on to Indonesia,then back to the middle east.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Highly commendable, 30 May 2013
By 
Nico (Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The 9/11 Wars (Paperback)
Very detailed and interesting analysis of the 9/11 Wars. Jason Burke is an excellent and informative writer who really gives you the full picture of events in the Middle East. Reading his account it is not at all surprising that the 9/11 Wars haven't panned out quite the way various Western Governments (particularly the US) would have their citizens believe. If I had one criticism of the book it would be that Burke tends to go over a fair bit of the ground he covered in his earlier books. This was probably unavoidable from the authors point of view but a little boring and repetitive for readers who've read his earlier work.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Off the charts for it's scope, concise analysis and clarity of style, 11 Oct. 2011
By 
Ronald Haak (Cork, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The 9/11 Wars (Hardcover)
Like the reviewer "Franco", I would give this book 10 stars if I could. I'd previously filled a shoebox or two with clippings and reprints about the 9/11 wars that I've assembled dating back to their inception, so I considered myself fairly well informed about the forces and variables at play. Burke's analysis carried my understanding of the 9/11 wars to an entirely level of understanding. I devoured every page and every chapter, admiring the even handedness of the presentation and cherishing my new grasp of the enormity of the 9/11 war agenda and the folly of attempting any control over so many variables. As I put the book down, I couldn't escape the conclusion that what's described in this book is what any enlightened government would do anything to PREVENT happening, much less initiating.

The book answered many of my wonderings about "Whatever happened to the Irag war?" and "Are the Madrid train bombings and the Paris/St. Denis suburban riots harbingers of a greater threat to Europe at large?". The details are here, well supported by a thick section of citations and references at the end of the book.

It's important to emphasise this is not a partisan polemic. It's a panorama of a Pandora's box opened and the unleashed monsters darkening the sky. Goya's etchings and paintings, as well as Matthew Arnold's "On Dover Beach", occupy the reader's mind, as he reflects on the dangers of hubris that extend back to Sophocles. It's a chronicle of how humans barge into what they don't begin to understand or learn from. And here, in the 9/11 wars, on what a grand scope of ignorance!

All the data you need is here, but not to excess. It's not a rehash of what we already know. The presentation is temperate and balanced, and never oppressive in the detail provided. It qualifies as a page turner and I recommend it without reservation.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant (reivew of the Kindle edition), 27 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: The 9/11 Wars (Hardcover)
This book is superb. It is huge in scope, covering over a decade and many regions where the 9/11 wars, to use Burke's term, are happening. It is well informed (he has travelled to some of the most intense areas of conflict) and he puts across the comments of players on all sides. It is a large book but by the end of it I felt it was well worth the effort as it is so much better informed than other sources of media who see the Islamic extremists as pretty much one block of unified activists rather than a very varied, and frequently at odds, collection of disparate groups. And it shows how some news medias attempt to simplify the threat by trying to link all attacks and plots to Al Qaeda is plain wrong.

Jason Burke's book is highly informative and very readable. One caveat to this is about the Kindle edition which doesn't have an index which is a massive oversight for such a book. The paper edition has one so why not the Kindle version?
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