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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Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

HOW TO PREVENT THE NEXT PANDEMIC

The tech mogul recounts the health care–related dimensions of his foundation in what amounts to a long policy paper.

“Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are optional.” Thus states the epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, a Gates adviser, who hits on a critically important point: Disease is a fact of nature, but a pandemic is a political creation of a kind. Therefore, there are political as well as medical solutions that can enlist governments as well as scientists to contain outbreaks and make sure they don’t explode into global disasters. One critical element, Gates writes, is to alleviate the gap between high- and low-income countries, the latter of which suffer disproportionately from outbreaks. Another is to convince governments to ramp up production of vaccines that are “universal”—i.e., applicable to an existing range of disease agents, especially respiratory pathogens such as coronaviruses and flus—to prepare the world’s populations for the inevitable. “Doing the right thing early pays huge dividends later,” writes Gates. Even though doing the right thing is often expensive, the author urges that it’s a wise investment and one that has never been attempted—e.g., developing a “global corps” of scientists and aid workers “whose job is to wake up every day thinking about diseases that could kill huge numbers of people.” To those who object that such things are easier said than done, Gates counters that the development of the current range of Covid vaccines was improbably fast, taking a third of the time that would normally have been required. At the same time, the author examines some of the social changes that came about through the pandemic, including the “new normal” of distance working and learning—both of which, he urges, stand to be improved but need not be abandoned.

Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-53448-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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