thewestchestarian's Reviews > Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden--from 9/11 to Abbottabad

Manhunt by Peter L. Bergen
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's review
Jul 20, 2012

really liked it
Read in July, 2012

Say what you like about the book, you have to love the ending. Bergen lays out the details of the ten year effort to improve the world by taking out international scumbag and world's worst suburban neighbor Osama Bin Laden. Bergen's writing style leans more journalist than story-telling but give him credit in two major areas.

First, he pulls off the neat trick most successfully done in Ron Howard's retelling of the "Apollo 13" mission of wringing tension and drama out of a story despite the fact that the outcome is known. At one point SEAL Team Six's $60million stealth Blackhawk loses a rotor blade against a high concrete wall inside the Bin Laden compound disabling it, waking the neighbors and stranding the SEAL's. These pages read as dramatically as any Tom Clancy cold war spy v. spy nail-biter.

Second, Bergen keeps things moving along during the nine or so years between Bin Laden's narrow escape at Afghanistan's Tora Bora and when the CIA finally picked up his trail in the Islamabad suburbs. Bergen manages to fill the prolonged lack of progress with satisfying technical insight on the efforts of the CIA and NSA to track the terrorist.

The book also succeeds as an object lesson for managers in making high-risk decisions with limited information. President Obama faced a roughly 50/50 shot that Bin Laden was hiding where the CIA thought he was. Based circumstantial intel (the main argument for the idea that it indeed was Bin Laden holed up in the complex was the lack of evidence that he was somewhere else) Obama faced the decision to invade a sovereign country and killing some random stranger versus letting the most wanted man since Adolf Hitler escape. Either mistake would have cost him the U.S. presidency.

In short, while the book's main audience draws from the Robert Ludlum anyone who appreciates justice and the truly evil getting what they deserve should find this a satisfying read.

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