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The Last Refuge: Yemen, Al-Qaeda, And The Battle For Arabia Paperback – 7 Feb 2013

4.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (7 Feb. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1851689400
  • ISBN-13: 978-1851689408
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.3 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 390,523 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

“Gregory Johnsen has written a breakthrough book on one of the most under-reported and misunderstood stories of the post-9/11 era. Penned in gripping prose and with incredible attention to detail, The Last Refuge unfolds with the pace of an action novel, but this story is all too true. If we ignore the widening covert war in Yemen and fail to learn from its complicated history, we do so at our own peril. Years from now, Johnsen will be seen as one of the few who got it right.” - Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army

“Gregory Johnsen, an authority on Yemen and jihadist extremists, has delivered in The Last Refuge a wonderfully well written and deeply reported account of the only al-Qaeda affiliate that continues to pose a real threat to the West.”

--Peter Bergen, author of Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Osama bin Laden, from 9/11 to Abbottabad

The Last Refuge offers a valuable look at al-Qaeda's operational history in Yemen. Gregory Johnsen has done us all a service by explaining the country, the threats, and why we should pay attention.”

--Ali Soufan, author of The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda

“Gregory Johnsen has written the best new book on al-Qaeda in 2012 and the best book on Yemen in years... A great read; Johnsen is a very good storyteller.”

--The Daily Beast

The Last Refuge offers a valuable look at al-Qaeda's operational history in Yemen. Gregory Johnsen has done us all a service by explaining the country, the threats, and why we should pay attention.”

--Ali Soufan, author of The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda

“Gregory Johnsen has written the best new book on al-Qaeda in 2012 and the best book on Yemen in years... A great read; Johnsen is a very good storyteller.”

--The Daily Beast

'Engaging and highly readable… The Last Refuge is more than a great read. It tells, or seeks to tell, the true story of Al-Qaeda at the Southern peninsula. Johnson's story is convincing [and] carefully constructed... compelling and insightful.'

--THE

‘Engaging and highly readable… The Last Refuge is more than a great read... compelling and insightful.'

--Times Higher Education

Review

“Gregory Johnsen has written a breakthrough book on one of the most underreported and misunderstood stories of the post 9/11 era. Penned in gripping prose and with incredible attention to detail, The Last Refuge unfolds with the pace of an action novel, but this story is all too true. If we ignore the widening covert war in Yemen and fail to learn from its complicated history, we do so at our own peril.”

(Jeremy Scahill - author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army)

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Customer Reviews

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I bought this for a job interview to give me an oversight of the challenges in Yemen. It provides a good oversight and an historical picture up to the current situation.
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Is it as easy as a 19 minute jihadist video made in Yemen,to influence American policy (like shutting Guantanamo bay) thousands of miles away in the White House? Sounds like beggars belief to me. The more likely scenario surly is that someone who never wanted the closure of Guantanamo bay orchestrated the making of the video to force the hand of Obama or am I just another nutty Muslim prone to conspiracy theories? If the Pakistani government stands accused of not managing its own Intelligence Service than surly the mighty US government is also vulnerable to a similar ailment with own CIA?

That was my initial impression when reading the prologue to this book before undergoing a detailed set of events which pretty clearly explains the nature of Al-Qaida in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Osama was Yemeni and wanted desperately to make Yemen Al Qaida's base of operations. The chronology of events is presented like the format of a flowing story which makes it very readable. I must confess I was convinced by the end of the book that Al-Qaida is a real threat and not a mere passing fascination as portrayed by media in Pakistan and most of Middle East. Therefore the almost full marks accorded to this brilliant longish article of a book, which resembles a blog in form. The only bit missing was the abrupt end to the book without the author's concluding remarks.

Then there was the casual mention of ex-volunteers turned intelligence officials in the book. I was never able to fully understand the utter dislike for 'peaceful' initiatives like polio drop vaccination and the deployment of Peace Corps among majority Pakistanis. This book provides at least one example of a peace corp volunteer turn into diplomat, into intelligence officer before evolving into head of clandestine operation in Yemen.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book. In this grim tail there are amusing episodes of incompetence, some of them gruesome. I would have like to learn more about the author, I think he must be a journalist by the way he writes. The tails are of individuals of Al Qaeda and what they did rather than what they think. Do they think anything except that all kaffirs must be killed? Are they all psychologically damaged individuals or born psychopaths? Does nobody try to influence them to join in life's rich pageant? What is the role of the religious hierarchy? Indeed, is there a hierarchy among the Imams? Exactly how do they get their funds and what are the routes of arms supply?
The answers to these questions must come from elsewhere.
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This book charts the history of AQ in Yemen providing interesting insights over an extended period. It links the OLB story with the spread of the group and highlights the difficulties facing the west in dealing with such a committed group. It importantly highlights the dangers of writing off groups of men as unsophisticated when they have so much passion for their cause. In today's environment that passion can be quickly transformed into a major threat.
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