The Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden

Overview

From Mark Bowden, the preeminent chronicler of our military and special forces, comes The Finish, a gripping account of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. With access to key sources, Bowden takes us inside the rooms where decisions were made and on the ground where the action unfolded.

After masterminding the attacks of September 11, 2001, Osama bin Laden managed to vanish. Over the next ten years, as Bowden shows, America found that its war with al Qaeda—a scattered group of ...

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Overview

From Mark Bowden, the preeminent chronicler of our military and special forces, comes The Finish, a gripping account of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. With access to key sources, Bowden takes us inside the rooms where decisions were made and on the ground where the action unfolded.

After masterminding the attacks of September 11, 2001, Osama bin Laden managed to vanish. Over the next ten years, as Bowden shows, America found that its war with al Qaeda—a scattered group of individuals who were almost impossible to track—demanded an innovative approach. Step by step, Bowden describes the development of a new tactical strategy to fight this war—the fusion of intel from various agencies and on-the-ground special ops. After thousands of special forces missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the right weapon to go after bin Laden had finally evolved. By Spring 2011, intelligence pointed to a compound in Abbottabad; it was estimated that there was a 50/50 chance that Osama was there. Bowden shows how three strategies were mooted: a drone strike, a precision bombing, or an assault by Navy SEALs. In the end, the President had to make the final decision. It was time for the finish.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Today, with Osama bin Laden safely dead, we forget that the Saudi-born terrorist had been on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list for almost four years before September 11th, 2001, a fact which underlines the urgency of the events described in this book. Mark Bowden's The Finish tracks the final stages of the hunt and killing of the bearded zealot who gloated over his mass slaughter of the World Trade Center. In this crisp narrative, the author of Black Hawk Down follows a double thread: Bin Laden's last year as the disgruntled leader of a jihadist movement that now mostly ignored him and President Barack Obama's determined reactivation of the hunt for the hidden leader. Expect strong media coverage and late night reads. (P.S. "There wasn't a meeting when someone didn't mention Black Hawk Down."—a senior presidential official, quoted in the New York Times, May 2011.)

Publishers Weekly
Bestselling author Bowden (Black Hawk Down) follows the long and often cold trail from 9/11 to a compound in Abbottabad, Paki-stan, where "a hand-picked... Dream Team" of U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden, in this sketchy and surprisingly vapid account. Relying on interviews with President Barack Obama and many of the national security officials directly involved in the planning of the mission, Bowden shows how "a sophisticated targeting engine" that included supercomputers and surveillance drones tracked down the elusive terrorist mastermind beginning with a single name. Bowden did not interview any of the SEAL team members on the raid, and the action takes place mostly in comfortable government offices far from the tip of the spear. Despite silence from the SEALs, the omniscient author knows what was on their minds ("The one thing... always in their thoughts was danger...") and in their hearts (they "were veterans of many raids, hardened to violence and death"). The hero of Bowden's narrative seems to be Obama, who risked his presidency on the type of uncertain raid that had doomed Jimmy Carter. Readers expecting a detailed, dramatic account of the raid on the Abbottabad compound will be disappointed. Agent: Robert Barnett, Williams & Connolly. (Oct. 16)
From the Publisher

A New York Times Bestseller
On Point with Tom Ashbrook (WBUR) Summer Reading Pick

“In-depth interviews with Obama and other insiders reveal a White House on edge, facing top-secret options, white-knuckle decisions, and unforeseen obstacles. . . . Bowden weaves together accounts from Obama and top decision-makers for the full story behind the daring operation.”—Vanity Fair

“A book — one with sweep and sophistication — about a pivotal, secretive operation . . . smart and measured, long on transparency and short on speculation. . . . Bowden enjoyed exceptional access, but wasn't captured by it. . . . Bowden’s lens is wide, encompassing Obama’s evolution as a politician and the peculiar influence of bin Laden . . . Where the book shines is in Bowden's reconstruction and refined analysis of the intelligence operations that turned up bin Laden's location. . . . The book also succeeds in its artful portrait of Obama as commander in chief. . . . compelling drama, and Bowden has captured it with skill and style.”—Seattle Times

“How all the president’s men and women finally nabbed the world’s most wanted terrorist is truly a stunning story. And while parts of it have been told, Barack Obama himself has confided in only one writer about all the details. And he is Mark Bowden.”—CNN

“The first book, and, to date, the definitive one, that looks at the Osama bin Laden raid from President Obama’s perspective. The Finish describes a new kind of war fighting—the fusion of intelligence from vast and scattered sources—to track and apprehend, or kill, the enemy. . . . It's a gripping tale.”—The Daily Beast

“The most accessible and satisfying book yet written on the climactic event in the United States' long war against al Qaeda.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“The death of the man responsible for the 9/11 attacks is a fantastic story. It has goodies and baddies, a long, slow build to the climax, exotic locations and lots of hardware. . . . Bowden [shows] how success in the raid last May was the culmination not just of a decade of often tedious data-crunching by the CIA and other analysts, but of a vast and ongoing effort within the American security establishment and government to develop a new range of capabilities. . . . How the Americans finally got their man is an extraordinary tale and Bowden does it justice.”—Guardian

"A superb storyteller, Bowden captures the tense drama accompanying the final months of the bin Laden hunt, even as he underscores the quiet, essential work of years."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Bowden’s new book outlines the changes in warfare since the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attacks, and the way our increasing computational power has helped capture terrorists like Osama bin Laden.”—NPR

The Finish leverages access to key White House, military, intelligence, and foreign-policy officials—including President Obama himself—to get behind the intricate story of how SEAL Team Six was sent to Abbottabad, Pakistan, to kill Osama bin Laden. . . . Bowden reviews the evolutionary progress made in intelligence processing and military capabilities that led to the raid on Abbottabad. . . . close to a textbook example of complex national security decision-making.”—The Atlantic

“[A] dramatic narrative . . . the actual champion of the bin Laden hunt is a collective of mostly nameless hands within the intelligence bureaucracy. . . The Finish is at its best when Mr. Bowden goes deep into mission planning, gameboarding the choice of means of attack—air strike? sniper drone? ground-force raid?”—Wall Street Journal

“A page-turner . . . an informative, on-the-ground account of the mission. Adept at maintaining suspense even when the outcome is widely known, Bowden also makes judicious assessments of how much credit Obama deserves -- and the impact of the assassination on al Qaeda.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Bowden would seem like the perfect person to tell the bin Laden story. . . . There is an excellent setting-the-record-straight section at the end that has been missing in other volumes.”—Washington Post

“Bowden . . . reveals the details of the planning, but knows when to pull back from a close focus to give the wider view of what was at stake for President Obama, military planners and the Navy SEALS team. . . . [His] experience as a reporter and author shows.”—Fayetteville Observer

“Shaping up to be one of the fall’s big books.”—Publishers Weekly

“Bowden’s book draws back to look at the raid in strategic context. I suspect that readers who choose Bowden’s wide-angle approach will find themselves better informed.”—St. Louis Today

“To chart the tale of the hunt for the world’s most notorious terrorist, Bowden assembled an extensive history of the modern warfare and intelligence tactics that led to the rare, execution and deep-sea burial.” —Philadelphia Weekly

“[Bowden] uses his hard-earned access to focus on the decade of intelligence-gathering and decision-making that led up to the Abbottabad raid.”—National Post (Canada)

The Finish paints the U.S. government’s relationship to technology and social media as integral in the capture of bin Laden. . . . Many see Bowden as one of the most respected writers covering the U.S. military and Special Forces today.”—Books & Review

Kirkus Reviews
A best-selling author explains the 10-year effort to find, fix and finish the world's most-wanted terrorist Bowden (Worm: The First Digital World War, 2011, etc.) devotes a taut chapter to the attack on Osama bin Laden, and he lavishly credits the courage and professionalism of the military men at the finish. But more than anything, he pays tribute and attention to "the effort and patience and will" of America's intelligence network and counterterrorism professionals, to the often-overlooked virtues of a bureaucracy endlessly grinding away to connect the dots of information that would lead to the sheik's lair. An effective opening chapter focuses on the day the Twin Towers fell and reminds us of the many then-obscure individuals who would rise to levels of immense power and responsibility during the long decade it took to kill bin Laden. Throughout those 10 years, through changes of administrations, the U.S. spent its time figuring out "exactly how to fight back" against an elusive, stateless enemy, employing tools old (on-the-ground human intelligence), new (supercomputers, drones) and improved (special ops) to eliminate al-Qaida's mastermind. As he efficiently tracks America's progress in this exquisitely difficult task, Bowden interleaves chapters depicting bin Laden's increasing isolation and frustration in Pakistan. He also explodes a few myths surrounding the raid itself: the president's "gutsy call" in fact had the near-unanimous support of his top advisers; there was no firefight at the compound; bin Laden was not in fact living in luxury, nor was he in effective control of his own organization; at least some of the information that led to his capture almost surely derived from torture or coercive interrogation. A superb storyteller, Bowden captures the tense drama accompanying the final months of the bin Laden hunt, even as he underscores the quiet, essential work of years.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781480516939
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 6/11/2013
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Bowden is the author of nine books, including the #1 New York Times best seller Black Hawk Down. He reported at The Philadelphia Inquirer for twenty years and now writes for Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, and other magazines. His most recent book is Worm: The First Digital World War.
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Table of Contents

Prologue xi

1 A Definition of Evil 1

2 The Path of Jihad 29

3 Taking Up Arms 55

4 The Targeting Engine 89

5 "Please Make Sure to Keep the Children and All of the Families Away from the Areas That Are Being Photographed and Bombed" 123

6 Disguised Uncertainty 141

7 "Adhering to These Precautions" 177

8 The Finish 209

9 Glitter 243

Acknowledgments and Notes 265

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