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Absorbing Account Tainted by the Redactions,
This review is from: The Black Banners: Inside the Hunt for Al Qaeda (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)This is quite challenging, to a large extent due to the redactions, but ultimately quite a rewarding read. The CIA redactions which are shown by text deleted with black blocking over the words, seem somewhat overenthusiastic, and you do wonder why the CIA had to go to town on it whereas the FBI were apparently happy to let it run. I would hope that ultimately this book will be published in full and I will certainly want to revisit it at that stage as it is a little difficult to follow in its current version.
It is very clear that Ali Soufan was closely involved in counter terrorist operations whilst working for the FBI and his insights make for fascinating reading. His involvement covers such key events as the embassy bombings in East Africa and the USS Cole prior to 9/11 and attacks such as the Bali and London bombings which occurred later. There is a fascinating review on the American Amazon site from a former colleague who confirms that Soufan was a very straight guy and that the narrative is basically how things happened, which adds credibility to his account. The author writes well and much of the material is very interesting, many chapters being unaffected by redactions. However, when the redactions occur they arrive thick and fast so that whole pages are blotted out and on other occasions taking out key words or phrases render sentences and even whole paragraphs virtually meaningless.
I do hope that it is possible to publish this in full, as it will make an absorbing read. Even in its current abbreviated format I found it worthwhile but the redactions are irritating at best. I imagine the authors could have rewritten the book to take out the text which was objected to, but chose to make a point by blocking them out instead. Whilst I understand their motivation, it does not make life easier for the reader.