An outstanding contribution to the literature of terrorism and counterterrorism.

DISRUPTION

INSIDE THE LARGEST COUNTERTERRORISM INVESTIGATION IN HISTORY

A journalist specializing in national security issues details the investigation and frustration of a major al-Qaida terrorist attack.

The events of 9/11 constituted America’s most significant terrorist attack, and Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower delivered a brilliant account of its background. Americans may be vaguely aware of 7/7, the British equivalent. On July 7, 2005, three suicide bombers blew themselves up on the London Tube, a fourth on a London bus. All were British subjects. In a bizarre and unrelated follow-up, five men attempted a repeat two weeks later. One changed his mind, and four poorly designed bombs fizzled. Peritz delivers vivid accounts of these attacks, but he has bigger fish to fry. The masterminds of the second attack (among the thousands of British nationals traveling back and forth from Pakistan), seeking to learn from their mistakes, planned a larger suicide operation with better bombs to be detonated aboard trans-Atlantic passenger planes. By this time in 2006, British security was paying close attention, with the assistance of the far larger and more pugnacious American CIA, whose doctrine was that there would never be another 9/11. More concerned with civil rights, the British aimed to gather information that would stand up in a courtroom, so they (and the author) meticulously followed and observed the plotters. Unexpectedly, the CIA jumped the gun by arresting the leader in Pakistan, forcing the British to round up everyone in London. As a result, the subsequent trials did not turn out as well as expected, although many defendants received long prison terms. Readers will struggle to remember Peritz’s vast cast of characters as well as the minutiae of their movements, but his massive research and interviews tell a gripping story with a more or less happy ending. The plot was foiled, and Western security agencies have gotten their acts together so that mass (but not individual) terrorist attacks are less likely.

An outstanding contribution to the literature of terrorism and counterterrorism.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64012-380-9

Page Count: 408

Publisher: Potomac Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

THE COMFORT BOOK

Bestselling author Haig offers a book’s worth of apothegms to serve as guides to issues ranging from disquietude to self-acceptance.

Like many collections of this sort—terse snippets of advice, from the everyday to the cosmic—some parts will hit home with surprising insight, some will feel like old hat, and others will come across as disposable or incomprehensible. Years ago, Haig experienced an extended period of suicidal depression, so he comes at many of these topics—pain, hope, self-worth, contentment—from a hard-won perspective. This makes some of the material worthy of a second look, even when it feels runic or contrary to experience. The author’s words are instigations, hopeful first steps toward illumination. Most chapters are only a few sentences long, the longest running for three pages. Much is left unsaid and left up to readers to dissect. On being lost, Haig recounts an episode with his father when they got turned around in a forest in France. His father said to him, “If we keep going in a straight line we’ll get out of here.” He was correct, a bit of wisdom Haig turned to during his depression when he focused on moving forward: “It is important to remember the bottom of the valley never has the clearest view. And that sometimes all you need to do in order to rise up again is to keep moving forward.” Many aphorisms sound right, if hardly groundbreaking—e.g., a quick route to happiness is making someone else happy; “No is a good word. It keeps you sane. In an age of overload, no is really yes. It is yes to having space you need to live”; “External events are neutral. They only gain positive or negative value the moment they enter our mind.” Haig’s fans may enjoy this one, but others should take a pass.

A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-14-313666-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin Life

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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