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Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America's Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  212 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
Published August 16th 2011 by Tantor Audio
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Feb 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Counterstrike tells a brief but fast-paced and mildly optimistic story of how US counterterrorism policies, strategies, and tactics evolved after 9/11 up to the killing of bin Laden. The authors argue that such a quick,smooth surgical in-and-out operation could not have been carried out ten years ago.

It mainly focuses on a group of intelligence, law enforcement and military officials and how they devised a new counterterrorism strategy.. It is also an interesting case study of how to apply "det
Jun 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is rare that I rate a book higher than the general population. I will tell you, having been in Aghanistan, having trained Afghans as a Marine and worked within the intelligence cycle, this is a fantastic book. The general population is missing the boat on this one. This was an exceptional book, recommended to me by a former intel operative. The concept of the evolution of deterrance fascinated me, as did the speed with which intelligence could be transferred up and down the chain (shown relat ...more
Tech Historian
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Must read, but suffers from short story-itis.

This is an invaluable book for anyone seriously trying to understand the war on terror over the last decade. Kudos to the authors. The other 5 star reviews tell you why this book is worth reading.

My only gripe: The authors did a ton of first hand interviews and have assembled a series of vignettes that when stitched together paint the picture of our evolving war. The problem is that the reader has to do the stitching - the authors strength at writing
Jan 17, 2012 rated it liked it
The narrator on the audio book had a tone that almost put me to sleep but the book was good. It was great to hear about all the government is doing to combat terrorism. I never hear of most of these techniques in the newspaper. The holistic plan by the US is wider than expected. It makes you feel better about the US military than any other press they get.
May 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were some interesting tidbits and details regarding GWOT. But, like my review of many of these compendium type books, it felt more like a series of articles the authors attempted to stitch together instead of a well organized thought-out book.
Apr 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book follows at high level policy path following 9-11. It charts the mindset shift from cold war deterrence of MAD doctrine to decisive Countering asymmetrical warfare as the guerilla terror attacks are referred to now.

The book is candid enough to discuss, analyze and dissect the on the job learning through mistakes and cultural issues during the two administrations from 2001 through 2012. It ends with the raid on the compound in Abbotabad Pakistan. It has an excellent analysis of how the
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Radical Islam isn’t going away anytime soon so this book definitely has its place. This is the story of the United States’ effort in Counter-Terrorism following September 11th. It is the incredible story of how various parts of the Government matured in their fight against Al Qaeda. The book focuses not only the frontline agencies against terrorism such as the State Department, the CIA, the FBI and the military but also certain key individuals that have shaped the policies in their respective ag ...more
Nov 27, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, politics
This book provides the narrative for a major shift in dealing with terrorism, a shift which began (surprisingly to me) in the administration of George W. Bush. Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda is the story of an attempt to apply the principles of nuclear deterrence as applied during the Cold War to the War on Terror. At first, this approach to counterterrorism seems counterintuitive. During the Cold War, MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) assumed that ...more
Mal Warwick
Sep 05, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
One of democracy’s most remarkable characteristics is the sheer volume of closely guarded information that can be reported and published without resulting in jail time or torture for the authors. Counterstrike, a remarkable bit of longitudinal reporting by two veterans of the New York Times, brings to light a host of insights and behind-the-scene details about America’s decade-long campaign against Al Qaeda and its affiliates and imitators.

The principal theme of Counterstrike is how in the cours
Apr 06, 2014 rated it really liked it

When I wondered if I should read this book or not, I feared it might be little more than the retelling of the tracking and killing of Osama Bin Laden, which by now has been told several times. But I started the book, and soon found out it was much more than that. The authors are experienced reporters from The New York Times, and well versed in security issues. They take the reader through the significant changes in the U.S. approach to counterterrorism over the years. I think the post 9/11 stori
Noel Burke
The one thing I was most surprised about was the apparent level of detail of operations and strategy that was presented in this book. Towards the end of the book they were talking about things that had occurred only a few years ago. It seems to me that this book could be treasure trove of info for the enemy. I don't mind bring light to operations if it is declassified (i.e. this is what happened during a war 20 years ago), but the American public does not need to know that much detail about how ...more
Lee Holz
Oct 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Counterstrike is an authoritative and comprehensive account of America’s campaign against Al Qaeda. It is a must read for anyone interested in the topic. One understands that the price of access to the players and those in the know was certain limitations on what the authors could say on all points. Still, the book has one substantial flaw or rather omission. Putting aside the intelligence failures and the geopolitical stupidity that lead to the invasion of Iraq, the invasion was a disaster in t ...more
Mike Maurer
I thought this would be an interesting book about how US special forces going into the dark places. It has a little bit of that. A lot of it has more to do with how US intelligence services learned over 10 years how to do their job better in light of the new threat of stateless terrorism.

Some of the intelligence work is neat. The stories there are gripping. But other areas simply drag and felt like reading dull history. Which this isn't, as it is actual events in the recent past.

The biggest rev
James Pritchert
Dec 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who like history or politics.
This is an interesting read that details the fight with Al Qaeda. It deals with the personalities and the enormity of the battle that is raging against terrorism. The political ins and outs are fascinating and the people who are waging war against terrorism are a select breed of warriors. Although the information is a bit dated in the rapidly changing war, this is valuable and critical background for those of us who are outside the circle of direct participants. This is a must read for anyone wh ...more
Sep 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you want a behind the scenes look at the American intelligence and special operations actions in Southeast Asia, this is an excellent book. From the fall of the Twin Towers to the killing of Bin Laden, this book describes actions of policy makers trying to deal with the elusive war on terror. If you are a policy/state type wonk, you will enjoy this book as it struggles to deal with conducting a war but not against a defined state.
Dec 28, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A very dry book that is mainly focused on how the gov't is adopting cold war deterrence strategies for its antiterrorism efforts, using foreign PR campaigns to counter the message of extremist groups & terrorist recruiters, trying to maintain relations with Pakistan, dealing with "lone gunman" type terrorist and terrorist cells, etc. One is left with more of a feeling of hopelessness than hopefulness for the future.
Douglas Hackney
Horribly titled book. Decently written compilation of primarily the strategic level actions taken before and after 9/11. The book is about as far from what you think the title implies as possible. I bought it based on a review and recommendation and never would have purchased it based on the title and cover design, which belong on a dime-store paperback.

The authors were not well served by their publishers here.
Jun 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good book. It reads like a 300 page NYT investigative feature. The historical allegory to the Cold War doctrine of deterrence, which is the recurring theme of the book, is exceptionally well done.
Counterstrike is hard-hitting, easy-to-read, and offers a very unique and exclusive perspective on how America's counter-terrorism apparatus works and how it evolved.
Jan 12, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well researched look at the sausage making requires to respond to the new terrorism threat. Interesting background on how the Cold War philosophy of deterrence was used upon terrorists. The book leaves the reader with the understanding that we will never defeat terrorism, but we can minimizes its physical and psychological impacts.
Nadim Karmoussa
Nov 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
A very rich book. It shows all the efforts against terrorism from government point of view. The most interesting aspect is seeing how strategies are developed, adjusted and influenced. The book is a bit naively optimistic in my opinion, but still very valuable. I enjoyed reading it.
Mar 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Encouraging in that it documents an improving coordination among our terrorist-fighting agencies. The account of Bin Laden's take-down interesting especially in the amount of preparation made. Good reporting but not an engaging read.
May 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The authors presented a solid understanding of the complexities of the war on islamic extremism...there were sections that dragged a bit, and I felt sections that were more broad than deep. But in all, they were able to explain recruitment and appeal of AQ in an understandable way.
Rick Cheeseman
Easy read, enjoyable. Good look at the non-kinetic efforts behind fighting terrorism.
Oct 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A worthwhile read for those looking at the war against al Qaeda in layman's terms. I would not plan on reading this twice.
Mazen Alloujami
It's in the domain of propaganda more than real history. I don't like it.
Brian Puls
rated it really liked it
Oct 16, 2012
Glen Lenox
rated it it was amazing
Jun 05, 2018
Leonard Deutsch II
rated it it was amazing
Dec 22, 2014
Michael Slaughter
rated it really liked it
May 24, 2016
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