Customer Reviews for

How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq

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  • Posted April 4, 2009

    Torture doesn't work; understanding does

    I heard the author interviewed on NPR, and his observations regarding interrogation tactics were fascinating. Although the book was more of a narrative of his actual experiences in Iraq, it was a fascinating read which gave real examples of the techniques used to extract useful information.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2013

    An interesting & sometimes captivating narrative about how t

    An interesting & sometimes captivating narrative about how the US conducts intelligence operations against the ruthless al Qaeda terrorist network directed by al Zarqawi. The strengths of the book are the first-hand views/insights into how interrogation tactics/techniques evolve towards more cultural/humanist methods as Special Forces, analysts, and interrogators attempt to take down the terrorist network whose goal was to create sectarian war throughout Iraq. In this regard, the book is a fascinating read.

    The book's weakness is the author himself who has his own war/vendetta against fellow interrogators and a command structure which slowly embraces new approaches to intelligence gathering. Mr. Alexander continuously posits himself as a sort of Qxiotic all-knowing outcast whose wisdom is ignored by some who can't see his magical wisdom. I posit Alexander's book against General Stanley McChrystal's book which describes many of the same events from a much more strategic POV which does indeed embrace the new concepts of intelligence gathering. But McChrystal assiduously checks his ego at the door & gives credit top to bottom to the entire process which fought terrorism in Iraq whilst also admitting the mistakes and lessons learned along the way. In short, McChrystal possesses humility whilst Alexander can't resist denigrating collegues and leadership as he places his wisdom and his knowledge superior to those around him. His book remains interesting and engaging, but I found his obsessive put-downs grate upon the reader by the end of the book as the real story is told in the collective experience of the men and women, but American and Iraqi who experience these events first hand.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 21, 2012

    This is a very insightful book on the New interrogation of terro

    This is a very insightful book on the New interrogation of terrorists. For those looking to find out how our military has adapted to over come the arcane methods of brute force interrogation you must read this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 11, 2009

    "How to Break a Terrorist" sounds like a dry topic title. I couldn't put this book down... it reads like a thriller.

    There are a couple graphic passages about atrocities committed between Iraqi Shia and Iraqi Sunni that might be unpleasant for some folks to read.

    The author points out America's failure to appreciate Iraqi culture, and how that failure crippled our efforts. The assumption that all 'al Qaeda' are 'kool-aid drinking extremist ideologists' is replaced with the reality that many Iraqi Sunni's turned to al Qaeda because there was nowhere else to turn. Many were simply caught up in the events that unfolded around them, though they weren't innocent, either.

    The author shines a bright light on the ineffectiveness of torture and harsh interrogation techniques, and shows how outsmarting the terrorists by knowing their cultural values, strengths, and weaknesses is much more effective.

    This book is very enlightening and educational while presenting a thrilling and suspenseful progression from the capture and interrogation of low-level Sunni Iraqi's who got caught up in al Qaeda activity, through a group of 5 men caught with suicide bombers, to find that a man posing as a 'photographer' actually held the key that ultimately lead to the killing of the deadliest man in Iraq, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi.

    How the interrogators 'broke' the terrorists down and gained their trust to get the information they needed to find Zarqawi is truly inspirational.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2009

    Has anyone in the govt read this?

    As a former USAF intel officer, I found this first-person account to be engaging and honest. The author shows his vulnerabilities and sensitivity to his captors while maintaing an honest eye towards his objective: save American and Allied lives. Yes, the writing can be a bit stilted, but that's how we talk. Finally: to those who think torture works, consider this report form the field.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2011

    Are you kidding?

    Double the price of paperback for e-book. Five bucks more than Amazon e-book. I'm reconsidering the whole nook experience....

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 8, 2009

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