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Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  561 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
On September 11, 2001, the world in which we live was changed forever. The twin towers of the World Trade Center came crashing down, one side of the Pentagon burst into flame, and more than six thousand men, women, and children lost their lives in the most deadly terrorist attack on American soil. As shocking as it was, it had been long in the making: The assault was the m ...more
Published November 14th 2001 by Free Press (first published 2001)
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May 22, 2012 Matthew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An incredible look at the history of Osama bin Laden and his fellow "Jihad." Peter Bergen looks at the events orchestrated/influenced by bin Laden primarily from a chronological point of view, and then secondarily from a historical point of view (in terms of impact on the world). Coming from a skilled journalist, Bergen speaks in an unbiased tone, allowing the reader to soak in the narratives from the start of Bin Laden's life to several years down the road, as Al-Qaeda became increasingly influ ...more
La pointe de la sauce
'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.'

This book certainly dispels some of the myths surrounding Osama Bin Laden propogated by the media. He was never trained or directly funded by the CIA and was never a CIA agent. Nonetheless the CIA played a crucial part in funding Osama indirectly through the Pakistani ISI and this is the beginning of a number of momentous 'cock-ups' which continue all the way from 1980 to the twin tower bombing. It is arguably the most e
Jan 15, 2009 Michalea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What does Osama want? Not us, for sure. And no surprise, neither do the Saudi's. A non-hysterical approach to radical Islam. It reminded me of The World is Flat.
Edwina Hall Callan
I can sum this book up in one word ... Chilling.
Jan 16, 2012 Irene rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Researched during the late 1990’s and published months after 9/11, this journalist explores the scope, tactics and motivations of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. I do not have sufficient background on this topic to evaluate the research of conclusions. But I found the book to be very readable, interesting, and informative.
This book was already in the works, when due to the events of the 11th of September 2001, former CNN terrorism analyst Bergen had it rushed to press without much editing time. Accordingly the book is a bit jumbled. Nonetheless the book offers a decent description of bin Laden's upbringing and background (including insights into bin Laden's hostility which stems from his fundamentalist opposition to an American military presence in Saudi Arabia, the US bias toward Israel, and the un-Islamic behav ...more
A good primer on modern jihadism, just one I wish I had read before all the others! Unfortunately, at this point it all seems like review; nevertheless, Mr. Bergen had the advantage of recognizing a growing and dangerous problem far before the rest of the world and aptly points out all of the missed opportunities of addressing it before 9/11. Many people mark 9/11 as al Qaeda's entry to the world stage and fail to see the two decades (at least!) of deadly activity preceding.

A good starting poin
May 13, 2012 Britton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A little less relevant now considering he no longer has a beating heart, if he did when he was alive anyway. This was a great account by a reporter that shares his experience being able to meet him and gives a very well informed background on his history, including the intricate details of how things were run (with his given information). I would recommend for anyone who wants to know about Osama bin Laden but also for anyone interested in understanding terrorist networks and broadly, aspects of ...more
Aug 18, 2011 Zack rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was all about the author's travel through the Middle East to try to get an interview with UBL himself. It is alright, but honestly doesn't give much insight into the man himself or what is really going on in the region. I think the decade since this book came out has provided a lot of time for more thorough scholarship to be developed. You could do a lot worse than this for something to pass the time, but you aren't going to find yourself enlightened at the end.
Good. But other books cover the same info (The Osbama Bin Laden I Know, Unholy Wars, and Ghost Wars) in a little more detail.

The book does make interesting points about the Egyptian Islamist movement's (Qatab and Zawahiri) influence on Bin Laden and Bin Laden's influence on nationalist movements (Chechnya and Algeria started as nationalist movements, but with influence of AQ members became more of a jidhast strugglet.).
Sep 03, 2008 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book as part of a Cold War course in college. At the time, 9/11 was all to much apart of my recent history, and the meaning of this book took on, perhaps, a much different meaning had I read this book before those events. It approaches Holy War as a type of business, and compares it to a bizzaro consumer culture / capitalism. At least, that is the feeling I took away after reading. I would read this again, to see what I take away from its content nearly 6 years later.
Aug 06, 2010 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting and informative analysis about Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. However, the 2002 edition I read is a bit dated. Bergen's other book, "The Osama Bin Laden I Know" is a better, more detailed read. However, Holy War Inc. has some interesting commentary on Al Qaeda itself, and is an interesting analysis of Al Qaeda as a global organization working within the context of modern globalization.
J.f. Dargon
An excellent book that opened my eyes to the world of Islamic fundamentalists. As a research book, it provided some excellent insights not only into those jihadists ready to cowardly prep others to sacrifice themselves, but also of "These Englishers who do not believe in God," but believe in money and privilege, and who are just as responsible for the senseless blood and carnage of the early 21st century.
Frank Abrams
Dec 05, 2007 Frank Abrams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody who thinks Bush is more of a threat then O.B.L., America
Written by the only westerner to have a face to face interview with O.B.L. Anyone who thinks that President Bush is more dangerous to America then this guy should read this book. Bin Laden as CEO of a very powerful corperation. Holy War Incorperated is the corperation we should be terrified of.
Jul 07, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though Osama bin Laden is now dead, this book is an excellent chronological account of the rise of OBL and the Al Queda terror network. Now that OBL is dead, I have just one thing to say to his departed soul: Enjoy eternity in hell.
Josh Liller
Mar 04, 2008 Josh Liller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-east
Slightly dated due to everything that has happened since 9/11 and some hasty editing (it went to editors just before 9/11 and was rushed to publication) it is a book begging for a 2nd edition or at least a sequel. Nevertheless, it is a hugely informative book with a writing style I really enjoyed.
Sep 13, 2008 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
That is a great book for who like to know how Al-quedda is organize and who rules this organization. Peter Bergen a CNN Terrorist Analist shares his experience interviewing Osama bin Laden.
Jan 07, 2016 Del rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really interesting analysis of the financial underpinnings of the enemies we face. Worth a read if you care about who Al Qaeda is, where they came from, and what their goals are..
Chloe Logan
I didn't like this nearly as much as the other works I've read by Bergen, but it's interesting to hear about bin Laden in a context surrounding (rather than post-) 9/11.
Michaela Tokárová
absolutely must read for anyone who is at least slightly interested in international relationships. very informative and brilliantly written
Jul 01, 2014 Larry marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Mark Cooper
[Audio] Fascinating look into the world of Islamic terrorism , the usurpation of the Muslim religion, and the thugs involved.
Trevor Durham
Aug 20, 2016 Trevor Durham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating look at the man who would tear down the walls of the world. Very eerie, very informative. I suggest pairing with history based upon Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.
Jan 10, 2008 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in understanding more about al Qaeda.
This was an interesting book about Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. Worth a read if you want to know more about how Osama and al Qaeda formed.
May 11, 2013 Liam89 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books available to anyone who wishes to understand the nature of the enemy we are now faced with.
Carlos Santos
It was a slow read in the begining but really picked up. This book fills in a lot of gaps and is very informative.
Why is America hated by the people of the east? Start reading if you really want to know. This is a great place to start. Enter with an open mind.
Jul 25, 2007 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well written book by a man who had personally interviewed Osama Bin Laden. At the time, it was in a league of it's own. Even now I would consider this at the forefront of this of book.
Anna rated it really liked it
Aug 03, 2012
Roxanne rated it really liked it
Feb 05, 2016
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Peter Bergen (born 1962) is an American born, England-raised print and television journalist, author, and CNN's national security analyst. Bergen produced the first television interview with Osama Bin Laden in 1997. The interview, which aired on CNN, marked the first time that bin Laden declared war against the United States to a Western audience. Bergen has written several books including: Holy W ...more
More about Peter L. Bergen...

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