Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Exile” as Want to Read:
The Exile
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Exile

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  411 ratings  ·  57 reviews
The Exile joins Osama bin Laden as he escapes into Pakistan in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, bringing to vivid life the years leading up to his death spent on the run and in exile. It tells the human story, and illuminates the global political workings. It is a tale of evasion, collusion, betrayal and the deep pain of isolation. Staying with a small group of characters ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published May 23rd 2017 by Bloomsbury USA
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Exile, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Exile

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.35  · 
Rating details
 ·  411 ratings  ·  57 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Exile
Alex Linschoten
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ah, history
There is no shortage of books on the September 11 attacks and their aftermath. Some stand back to analyse it in terms of trends and networks, seeking to explain the 'why' through abstractions. Others have written participant accounts or their histories from the sidelines. The Exile offers a fulsome corrective to this trend towards abstraction. Curious what life was like for bin Laden, his commanders and their families? Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy deliver in spades.

The beating heart of this
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In what may be one of the strangest episodes in world history, a small group of poorly-resourced men in a remote area of a devastated country launched an attack against the most powerful empire in the world that succeeded in slowly degrading its institutions and global influence to the point of near collapse. This is the irksome story of al Qaeda and the United States, which is still playing out 16 years after the planes struck the towers in Manhattan. Although many of those who started this bat ...more
Steven Z.
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After perpetrating the horror of 9/11 al-Qaeda leadership and its followers scattered with the expectation that they had provoked what would be a massive military response. The path Osama Bin Laden and his family, al-Qaeda officials, and others took to escape the lethal American bombardment has been open to conjecture by historians and journalists for sixteen years. The publication of THE EXILE: THE STUNNING INSIDE STORY OF OSAMA BIN LADEN AND AL QAEDA IN FLIGHT by Cathy Scott- Clark and Adrian ...more
Prabhat Singh
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Man, what does one say about a book which deserves a book of its own on how it was written? The level of detail, the objectivity, the style of presentation - everything is impeccable. The authors gained access to everyone from some of Osama's wives to the builder of the Abbottabad house in which Osama spent the last six years of his life!

Though some of the things, such as ISI' role in aiding Taliban and Al-qaeda, are well known, the book provides rare insight into how this was done, and shows t
Asim Qureshi
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating account of the pre and post 2001 period within al-Qaeda. There are many new vignettes in this book, even for the seasoned reader on the history. Unfortunately, like many such books, there are all manner of Orientalist descriptions that make you cringe out of their lack of understanding or research. Fortunately, they don't distract from the overall narrative. Overall, a very worthwhile read. ...more
Tariq Mahmood
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pakistan, iran, islam
An excellent book presenting a complete picture of the Al-Qaida years of exile after the infamous 2001 attack on the Twin Towers in New York. The book fills a lot of gaps between the capture of many Al-Qaida leaders but does fail to address two fundamental questions.
Why was Al-Qaida able to command so much loyalty when the booty against its leadership so lucrative?
What were the real reasons why America hasn't chosen indict these horrible terrorists if it has overwhelming evidence against them?

Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Along with The Looming Tower, this is one of the two most essential books on Al-Queda. The Exile traces the fallout from 9-11 on AQ, as it follows their members, and those searching for them over the next ten years. I had a lot of trouble putting this book down, and would recommend it to anyone interested in the subject. The research that went in to this book is simply staggering.
Praveena D.M.
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best book read in recent times. Well narrated story of Osama Bin Laden and his team. I had already watched the movie "Zero Dark Thirty" so I know how osama life ended. What fascinating for me is how osama survived almost ten years after 9/11 when worlds best men trying to find him.

"Zero Dark Thirty" tells story only from CIA or American Intelligence agencies perspective, so don't skip this book. In this awesome book, Authors tells the story of all persons over the time. Authors follow
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this is a good insight of the Al-Qaeda's network, leader, family and specially interesting facts about what happened after him. I am amazed at the amount of details been put and considering that the events just unfolded in the way it is written, this is something anyone interested in knowing should read.

Overall I find this much better than Omar Laden's book itself.
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The research undertaken to make this book must have been staggering; the ass of the book is plumped with notes and reference numbers in the hundreds for each chapter. The result is an in-depth narrative of the hunt for OBL from 2001-11 from multiple perspective points. Very insightful and thrilling at times.
Diana Grace
Apr 25, 2017 marked it as to-read
Note to self: Watch Zero Dark Thirty
This is a well-written and engaging history of the bin Laden family’s escape from Afghanistan after 2001 and their life in hiding in Iran and Pakistan in the years following the 9/11 attacks. It draws on a lot of sources, including interviews with family members or surviving Al Qaeda operatives, as well as portions of Osama’s correspondence that the U.S. has declassified in the time since the Abbottabad raid. If you are a reader who has followed these subjects closely, this may all be familiar s ...more
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finally finished this book which seemed to be never ending. But was worth it I think.
Almost every book I have read has been about Al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Afghan war, Pakistan, the Iraq war, the Central Asian countries, and U.S. military & intelligence Agency's role leading to 9/11 and the subsequent turmoil in the Middle East and Central Asia but this book is different. This is what happened to Al Qaeda and Usama Bin Laden and family from the insiders perspective. Their perspective. Fabulously researched and written. It will be in my top 5 books and one I will likely re-read. ...more
Surabhi Nijhawan
It's a great piece of investigative journalism. What I liked the most about it was that it not only had the details of Bin Laden's exile and raid at Abbottabad, but several other issues, such as the Arab Spring, making of IS etc. The only problem with the book is that it has too many people and often gets confusing to remember who did what. Nevertheless, informative and objective account. It's a must read for those who want to read about modern war history. ...more
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Exile (Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy) is, insofar as I am aware, the most comprehensive history of al-Qaeda in the post-9/11 era to date, making extensive use of documents recovered and declassified from Abbottabad to paint the picture of Osama bin Laden’s life on the run. The 500 pages of narrative take the reader on a sweeping tour of the Global War in Terror, and providing remarkable detail into the dynamics of the extended bin Laden family, the “deep state” of the Pakistani security ...more
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Adrain Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark are past masters on South and West Asian terror. They wrote an interesting book on Kashmir (The Meadow) and more recently the eminently readable

SEIGE….which was on the terror attack on the Taj Hotel…now more famously referred to us 26/11.
We’ve plenty of books on 9/11 and more on the Navy Seals attack on Abbottabad where they flushed out Osama Bin laden but hardly any one on what happened to Osama Bi laden post 9/11 till his assassination. The Exile travers
Joe Silber
The Exile is an amazingly detailed book that, while structured like a Tom Clancy novel, struggled a bit to hold my interest. After an unbelievable amount of research by the authors, including interviews with Bin Laden family members, Pakistani and US officials, and more, the book pieces together a nearly week by week timeline of what happened to Osama Bin Laden, his family, and other high-ranking Al-Qaeda members following the 9/11 attacks up through the raid on Abbotabad and its aftermath. Alon ...more
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dang. Believe the hype: this book is fantastic. Scott-Clark and Levy are masterful storytellers, and the entire story just flows perfectly and keeps you engrossed the whole time. The book is meticulously researched and based on interviews with nearly every key player who is neither dead nor still an active member of Al Qaeda.

The book's stars are Bin Laden's family members, his wives and their children. They are, for the most part, depicted sympathetically but not without flaws. (Bin Laden himsel
Hadi Ali
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just finished The Exile by Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy. It’s about Usama Bin Ladan’s years from just before 9/11 to his death in Abbott Abad Pakistan in 2011. After his death, the book covers Al-Qaida’s resurgence amid the chaos brought about by Islamic State in the region, ending with the pronouncement about one of his son as being listed a global terrorist by the USA.

There is hardly any character in this theatre of violence that could draw one’s sympathy except for kids and some women. I
Dhaval Pandya
Apr 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mubeen Irfan
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Did you know Osama carried out 9/11 despite not having a go ahead from his Al-Qaeda shura?

Did you know Al-Qaeda major lieutenants escaped Tora Bora and subsequently fled to Iran where they were knowingly & willingly given refuge by Iran's Revolutionary guard so that they can be used later as baits with the USA?

Did you know the infamous Abu Musab Zarqavi actually used Iran's network of funds and passage to escape and later carried out carnage against Shias in Iraq?

The above are those startling re
Karen Gleister
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hooked by a review and a podcast, I've just finished this long read, and I just could not put it down. Ultimately this is a retelling of a story that we think we know but peopled by facts and figures who are so completely different.
They've taken the period and flipped it on its head and result is gripping, stupefying and occasionally astounding.
I read one review that said this book had been constructed with the benefit of hindsight and was therefore a loose draft of history. But actually its s
Lyle Nicholson
I enjoyed this book, however, found too many references to just about everybody Osama Bin Laden had ever dealt with. There was the detailed background on his wives, his children, including brothers in law and just about everyone else he'd ever dealt with.

Trying to keep all of the numerous figures in my head as I read became exhaustive. I found I needed to skim and then skip ahead to where the action was of them actually finding Bin Laden. The details of the torture or as they called "interrogati
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Strats with 9/11 and ends with the infight of Al Qaeda in Iraq, the book mainly runs like a diary relating to the events happened on the life of people associated with 9/11 operation. Extensively researched with authentic information, covers the family life of Osama Bin Laden.

Book Portrays Osama as staunch Mujahideen and head of Al Qaeda and also a father who wants his children both sons and daughters to be part of the Jihadi Movement. Marrying his daughters to Mujahideens and sending the sons t
The Exile is a book that should have quit while it was ahead. The first part of the book, while often slow, was also engaging and gave a great review of the history of Al Qadea. The involvement of Iran is new and very intense. Levy leaves it to the reader to decide if they were prisoners or were kept in country club settings that allowed them to regroup. The part that follows the tracking of Al Qaeda is interesting but could use a bit more context and fewer names. Her fascination with multiple, ...more
Tushar Agrawal
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finally finished the book. A very comprehensive work once again done by Adrian and Cathy. There are so many people discussed in the book, you are bound to get confused. So the details at the end of the book about each person discussed in the book will come in handy.

The book portrays the journey of Al-Qaeda after 9/11 and how many nations and intelligence agencies in the world are still involved in this violent and bloody game of jihad. Terrorism cannot sustain on its own it requires sanctuaries,
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Extremely well written and enormously detailed, this is the definitive history of Al Qaeda, 2001-2011, and its look at the Islamic State is laudable as well. It reads like a thriller, with borderline fictional descriptions at times keeping the pace oging. My issue is that it is simply too detailed, and it is difficult to follow the threads at all times. As such I was only able to dip in and out, as it didn't hold my interest to read the whole piece at once. There are passages worth delving into ...more
Brenden Sutton
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WOW! This was an eye opening tale of how the worlds most wanted and dangerous terrorist lived and how Bin Laden escaped and evaded capture for years. However, this wasn't just about the death of Bin Laden, in fact it was about the time after 9/11/01 and how he and his outfit and family evaded Government officials. I also want to say this isn't for the faint of heart especially when the book goes over the torture practices of the United States at the CIA black sites. A disturbing yet fascinating ...more
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS
  • Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • The Nine Lives of Pakistan: Dispatches from a Precarious State
  • Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001
  • The Siege: 68 Hours Inside The Taj Hotel
  • Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us
  • 1962: The War That Wasn't
  • The Story of World War II: Revised, expanded, and updated from the original text by Henry Steele Commager
  • Jinnah of Pakistan
  • The Triple Agent: The al-Qaeda Mole who Infiltrated the CIA
  • On China
  • Blood and Oil: Mohammed bin Salman's Ruthless Quest for Global Power
  • Rage
  • The Meadow
  • No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram
  • The White Tiger
  • A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order
  • The Secret History of Twin Peaks
See similar books…

Related Articles

  Discover lots of new and upcoming nonfiction reads this season with our author interviews, articles, and book lists!   Interviews with...
24 likes · 31 comments
“incredulous.” 0 likes
“House of the Pomegranates,” 0 likes
More quotes…