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Objective Troy: A Terrorist, a President, and the Rise of the Drone
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Objective Troy: A Terrorist, a President, and the Rise of the Drone

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  530 ratings  ·  100 reviews
     Objective Troy tells the gripping and unsettling story of Anwar al-Awlaki, the once-celebrated American imam who called for moderation after 9/11, a man who ultimately directed his outsized talents to the mass murder of his fellow citizens. It follows Barack Obama’s campaign against the excesses of the Bush counterterrorism programs and his eventual embrace of the tar ...more
Hardcover, 396 pages
Published September 15th 2015 by Tim Duggan Books
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Steven Z.
Sep 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Scott Shane is a New York Times national security reporter whose new book OBJECTIVE TROY explores the evolution of the American use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) as its main weapon to counter Islamic terrorism. After invading Afghanistan and Iraq and having both incursions turn out poorly the Obama administration came into office with the fervent belief to avoid further use of “boots on the ground” in any large number in the Middle East. Events in the region did not necessarily cooperate ...more
 Charlie - A Reading Machine
Aug 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
A very tricky subject handled quite brilliantly. Scott Shane has written an interesting and accessible story about the links between the current Obama administration, the use of drones in hunting down terrorists, both domestic and international, and the origins of many of USA's foreign policies, regarding both the Middle East and Assassinations. Hard to put down and highly enjoyable from start to finish. ...more
Claudia Putnam
July 2016-I really wanted to get back and give this a more comprehensive review, even though by now I have forgotten a lot of what I wanted to say.

I have to get my thoughts together on this one. I listened to it rather than read it, so I can't quote and don't have notes, as I was driving. But it deserves a thoughtful review. It's changed my thinking on a number of things and deepened it on others. I think every American should read this book. More soon.


I believe this is one of the most imp
Aug 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
The author should read Dirty Wars and reconsider his premise. Just because Washington tells you it's so, doesn't mean it is. There is no proof that Al Awlaki had involvement in terrorist activity. ...more
Sep 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The title of this book is insufficiently descriptive; what this book really is is the first full-length biography of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American AQAP operative, media personality, and first American ever to be deliberately killed by a Predator drone. I was waiting for someone to do such a biography (Jeremy Scahill's Dirty Wars covered some of the broader points), and this was really satisfying in depth and scope. Not only is it a retelling of Awlaki's life and the sensational turns it took, it ...more
Mikey B.
This book was excellent on many levels. Its’ an examination of two areas: the American Muslim, Anwar al-Awlaki, and the decision to use drones to kill him in Yemen.

Let us first examine the tragic life story of Awlaki. He was born in the U.S., but his parents came from Yemen. His father got an engineering degree in the U.S. and wanted his son to follow in his footsteps – getting a degree, and then possibly re-locate to Yemen and apply his skills there. His father had settled back in his ancestral
Sep 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely fascinating book that adds a lot of context to a significant amount of news we’ve heard since September 11, 2001, regarding the Global War on Terror. More specifically, it’s a detailed examination of two men set on a collision course: The man who would be President, Barrack Obama, and the first citizen of the United States to be hunted down and executed without a trial, Anwar al-Awlaki. Awlaki’s story is quite incredible. His name would turn up time and time again in almost
Daniel Oglesby
Apr 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This detailed but accessible book accounts for the rise to prominence and radicalization of Anwar al-Awlaki. His message became central to many of the terror plots between 9/11 and the rise of the Islamic State and those seeking a better understanding of his story should look here. Shane uses a compelling narrative style to paint a picture of the troubled imam who went from the “moderate” cleric interviewed extensively after 9/11, to the main terrorist threat to America. The author uses first-ha ...more
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the wrong hands a book with this kind of subject matter can become a pulpit for someone on either extreme side of the political aisle. Fortunately Scott Shane leaves it to the reader to determine where they stand on the issue of drone warfare in general and the targeted killing of an American in particular. (Shane provides a sense of where he comes out on these issues but he isn't overbearing.)

This book primarily tells the story of Anwar al-Awlaki, from his early years as a student and later
Sep 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, 2016-reads
Shane did a thoughtful and methodical job of showing how Al-Alwaki became radicalized, and then carefully explained the Obama administration's actions while trying to adhere to constitutional legality - all the missteps, ill-thought decisions, and failed jokes in awkward press conferences - leading to the assassination of an American citizen whose right to a trial was not honored and a precedent we need to confront. Shane isn't pro-or anti-Obama, that is not the point. Obama's and his DOJ's choi ...more
Jaclyn Day
Oct 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
I gave myself a new challenge. I want to start reading at least one nonfiction book per month (or so) about a topic I know nothing, or very little, about. After I listened to a Fresh Air interview about this book, I thought it seemed like a good way to get the ball rolling. This book was fascinating–exhaustively researched and meticulously reported by Shane, who covers terrorism for The New York Times. The content is dense and full of foreign policy nuance that I am, admittedly, not well-versed ...more
Randal White
Objective Troy is a review of the history of the drone, their use by President Obama, and the rise and fall of Anwar al-Awlaki, the first American targeted and killed by a drone. It explores the maturation of Obama's thought process, from his campaign promises to the real world problems of protecting the American public. It also delves deeply into al-Awlaki's history, covering him from a typical American youth to a hate spewing terrorist. Another, really thought provoking theme throughout the bo ...more
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all readers
Recommended to Brent by: Atlanta-Fulton Public Library
This is an important book, written by a New York Times journalist, and referencing many sources. Objective Troy is a parallel biography of Anwar al-Awlaki (labelled Objective Troy once identified as a terrorist and targeted by our armed forces), President Obama, and conflicts including our use of drones. It is compelling to read, and once begun, I was compelled to finish this short volume.
I did not know much about him or his work, though his arc of radicalism is pretty well documented here. I d
Jul 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
I won an ARC of this book from a goodreads drawing.

This book is an example of "narrative" journalism, more interested in some kind of story than actually finding the truth.

If you want a true picture of drone based warfare, go somewhere else.
Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Absolutely essential reading, both as an overview of the GWOT, and of the expansion of executive branch power in the 21st century. Belongs next to The Looming Tower on my book shelf
Julian Douglass
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
A well researched and reported book. The flow is good and Mr. Shane does not get too technical in his explanations. He seems to follow the pattern however of decrying the national security state, blaming Obama for its abuses and his use of it fighting the war on terror, and giving a mild scolding to the Bush administration for creating the thing in the first place. Mr. Shane, unlike other authors however, makes it perfectly clear that Obama was not a pacifist as many of his supporters like to be ...more
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those who are trying to understand what is going on
It has been a week of more random shootings, "terrorism" in all its guises and the myriad responses of sorrow, lunacy, apathy, belligerence. I am reading the book Objective Troy, by Shane Scott, and it has been illuminating and riveting. It tells the story of Anwar al Awlaki, an American citizen targeted by the Obama administration for extra-judicial killing by drone. Al Awlaki began as a religious but moderate muslim, acting as Imam at mosques in California and D.C. But over time, he developed ...more
Abu Kamdar
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is very well written and has a strong narrative flow. More importantly, it is well-researched and very detailed. It provides a detailed record of the events leading up to the radicalization of Anwar al-Awlaki. There are a lot of lessons that can be learned from this book in countering terrorism, and preventing radicalization.
Sep 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
My first impression of Shane's thesis of linking Obama, al-Awlaki and drones was You don't get poetic license for that shit, dude. But Shane does a great job for the most part. I can't abide by moral equivalence when it comes to drones vs. jihad. Some (a trickle for a NYT reporter) of that nonsense seeped through the pages. He showed admirable impulse control! I can see that droning is clearly making us more enemies and ratcheting up the recruiting (Ft. Hood, Detroit, Boston...). OTOH, there are ...more
Sep 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
An investigative report on Obama’s handling of Islamic terrorist Anwar Al-Awlaki

This book describes the rise and fall of one of most wanted terrorist Anwar Al-Awlaki, and how his killing became so controversial, and bitter exchange of words between the supporters of Obama and the republicans. Why did the handling of Awlaki, a neutralized American citizen, a Muslim who vowed to destroy America is so extra-judicial? The fact that he was an American citizen makes all the difference. No criminal ch
Fredrick Danysh
Shane examines the careers of President Barack Obama and American born Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. He also examines the discusses the development of terrorism and drone warfare since 9/11. We see the process that led to the killing of an American citizen using drones with out a trial or due process. I felt that the author was sympathetic in his treatment of Obama. This was a free advance review copy.
Anne Martin
Oct 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
this book, with solid research behind, will amaze you. The parallels drawn between Awlaki, born and raised in the US and Obama, growing up in Indonesia are very interesting. Still, the way Awlaki focused on destruction is terrifying, leaving no path for sympathy or compassion.
Many questions are left open at the end, but they must be asked. The horror of Paris on Nov. 13th will remain in our thoughts and no one knows what the future holds.
Emma S
Aug 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book. The author does a good job weaving together the narrative about Awlaki's life and radicalization with the geopolitical and strategic considerations behind the rise of the drone. It is grippingly told and fascinating to read. I received the book as an evaluation copy in a Goodreads Giveaway. ...more
Susan Walker
Jun 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a very interesting story of Anwar al-Awlaki, a man who committed mass murder of his fellow citizens. The book also shows President Obama's issues on terrorism. This was written by a New York Times reporter who has covered terrorism for over 10 years. A fascinating read! ...more
Kai Tinley
Nov 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
A much better book than either the title or the cover would make you think.
J.R. Thornton
Mar 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting

Eye opening account of the rise of AQAP, the complications of drone warfare in combating terrorism and the situation in Yemen
Sep 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book tells the story of radical Islamists imam Anwar al-Awlaki and the US government war against him in the backdrop of the larger issue of President Obama’s war on terror using drones for targeted killing of Al Qaeda members. The author Scott Shane is a New York Times reporter who specializes in issues of national security. Shane does a masterful job in his research for this book and his work really shows. I don’t think there’s any other book length treatment that is as detailed concerning ...more
Dec 23, 2017 rated it liked it
This book takes a look at a man named Anwar al-Awlaki, showcasing his life and how he played a big role in American terrorism, while he was alive, and so much more when he was dead. It also looks at President Obama, before and after he came into office, showcasing his role in all of this too. This was a very political book, but even still this book could be compelling when it wanted to be. Shane is a journalist and the reader can really see his investigative journalism shine through and be put t ...more
Mar 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
A well-written, well-researched, nuanced and readable book, detailing the evolution of Obama’s views and policies on terrorism and the evolution and fate of Awlaki. Shane describes the thinking and tactics of both and how they justified it. He also brings up the interesting fact that approving a drone strike on Awlaki was easier than approving a wiretap on him.

Of course, Shane also covers the lawsuit filed by Awlaki’s father after his son ended up on the “kill list.” The US refused to let it pro
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
There are two narratives here: one is the tale of an American-born Imam who became radicalized and began organizing terrorist attacks, and the other describes President Obama and his use of drones to target Al-Quaeda. The targeted killing of a U.S. citizen without trial raises a host of uncomfortable legal and moral issues, as does the fact that drone strikes often kill innocent civilians, inflaming sentiment against America. On the other hand, the alternatives to fight small terrorist cells don ...more
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Scott Shane is a reporter in the Washington bureau of The New York Times, where he covers national security. His new book, Objective Troy: A Terrorist, A President and the Rise of the Drone , will be published by Crown/Tim Duggan Books on Sept. 15, 2015. It examines the life and death of the late American-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, killed in a drone strike in Yemen in 2011 at the orde ...more

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