The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century

The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century

by Steve Coll
3.6 18

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The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century by Steve Coll

The rise and rise of the Bin Laden family is one of the great stories of the twentieth century; its repercussions have already deeply marked the twenty-first. Until now, however, it is a story that has never been fully told, as the Bin Ladens have successfully fended off attempts to understand the family circles from which Osama sprang. In this the family has been abetted by the kingdom it calls home, Saudi Arabia, one of the most closed societies on earth.

Steve Coll’s The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century is the groundbreaking history of a family and its fortune. It chronicles a young illiterate Yemeni bricklayer, Mohamed Bin Laden, who went to the new, oil-rich country of Saudi Arabia and quickly became a vital figure in its development, building great mosques and highways and making himself and many of his children millionaires. It is also a story of the Saudi royal family, whom the Bin Ladens served loyally and without whose capricious favor they would have been nothing. And it is a story of tensions and contradictions in a country founded on extreme religious purity, which then became awash in oil money and dazzled by the temptations of the West. In only two generations the Bin Ladens moved from a famine-stricken desert canyon to luxury jets, yachts, and private compounds around the world, even going into business with Hollywood celebrities. These religious and cultural gyrations resulted in everything from enthusiasm for America—exemplified by Osama’s free-living pilot brother Salem—to an overwhelming determination to destroy it.

The Bin Ladens is a meticulously researched, colorful, shocking, entertaining, and disturbing narrative of global integration and its limitations. It encapsulates the unsettling contradictions of globalization in the story of a single family who has used money, mobility, and technology to dramatically varied ends.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101202722
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/01/2008
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 688
Sales rank: 348,250
File size: 766 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Steve Coll is most recently the author of the New York Times bestseller The Bin Ladens. He is the president of the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan public policy institute headquartered in Washington, D.C., and a staff writer for The New Yorker. Previously heworked for twenty years at The Washington Post, where he received a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism in 1990. He is the author of six other books, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller Ghost Wars.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"A fascinating panorama . . . about a man and his family [and] the powerful impact they have made on our times."
-The Washington Post

"Riveting . . . the most psychologically detailed portrait of the brutal 9/11 mastermind yet."
-Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"Stunningly researched and grippingly told . . . [The Bin Ladens] ought to be read by anyone who really wants to understand the origins of the current crisis."
-Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Times

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The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book adds an important and unique angle to the traditional reading list about the "war on terror" and 9/11. A highly recommended and fair portrait of a surprisingly secular Saudi family and the formative years of Osama, the exiled and evil "black sheep" among them.
thewanderingjew More than 1 year ago
As the 20th century begins, the Bin Laden saga does as well. The book examines the rise and fall of this prominent family beginning with the line of Ali. Mohammed and Abdullah are the early focus. At first, it reads almost like a fairytale as their very survival seems to depend on magical moments or accidents of fate. Since much of the history is handed down orally, it is really hard to separate fact from fiction, sometimes. The Bin Laden family fell into the good graces of the King by sheer force of events, unplanned and unchoreographed. When Abdulaziz wanted help to build shelters for his ever growing fleet of cars, the Americans and the British refused. Had they accepted, perhaps Mohammed Bin Laden would not have stepped up to fill in the construction gap which eventually brought him prominence and fortune. Perhaps the clan would have deteriorated into oblivion instead of infamy. Mohammed Bin Laden was either a business genius or the hapless recipient of accidents of fate. I think he was very clever and inserted himself into situations which provided him the advantage he needed with the royal family. Even if he was unprepared and not up to the task presented to him, he accepted it. He took the risk, carved out deals which projected him into the spotlight, married strategically and made influential alliances. Sometime in 1958, his 14 year old bride, Alia, gave birth to Osama Bin Laden. Salem, Osama's brother, rose to power after the death of Mohammed, in a plane crash. He was more fun loving and as the brother in power, managed to endear himself to many of the Saudi princes in power and to King Fahd. Although, he too liked to play a lot, he was pious and professed to do everything for Allah.. He had ruder manners and behavior, loved the party life, the night life and also took many wives and had many children. I was struck by a comment made by Carmen, wife of Yeslam, ½ brother to Salem. She noted that when the brothers came together, you never knew when they would turn from carousing to being very pious. One minute you would think they were westernized but then small things made you realize that they were not. She said they cannot cut the bond that is embedded in them. She said her own husband cannot cut the bond that is his early childhood. Osama became a radicalized member of the Muslim Brotherhood at around the age of 15 because of the influence of his teacher, Ahmed Badeeb, who was active in the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization believing in Sharia law and violence. Osama was a quiet and well behaved young man, easily swayed by the teacher. Osama was more religious than most and even believed in ancient traditions and modes of dress. In Saudi Arabia, Islam is part of the culture and even in more moderate households, it is a major theme of life. Someone in every home believes in Islam and there is always a Koran evident. The Brotherhood messages were filled with political dissent and preached teaching and proselytizing. Obama was a devout and obedient follower. As a young man, he disliked America and its policies toward Jews and Christians which he felt certain was a policy intent on destroying Islam. He believed wholeheartedly in Jihad. Osama's connections with the Brotherhood mentors is kismet and coupled with his influential connections, make it possible for his love/hate relationship with the United States to begin. His declaration of war against America provides the reason to plot its destruction in the name of All
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Agueda More than 1 year ago
Where did this family come from to gain such great power in the Saudi Kingdom. This book traces the rise of the House of Saud as well as the family Ben Ladin. A must audio book for anyone who needs to know the nature of power struggle between arabia and the west.
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Royglen More than 1 year ago
Just finished reading....have to say this book is packed with culture insight. The author keeps things well balanced and seems to avoid mixing opinons in with his research.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I am reading The Bin Ladens and enjoying it very much. The reading is interesting and very informative. HOWEVER, where in the world are the maps that desperately need to accompany a book such as this? The maps are an integral part of one's understanding of the events taking place. Most people can't find Yemen, much less the Hadhramawi section of Yemen. The book, 'Three Cups of Tea' which is on the top best seller list has an excellent map which shows where everyting takes place. Next time, or in a subsequent edition, please add maps to this book making it more interesting and informative. This lack really should put the rating even less than my '4'. Dee Phelps