The Finish: The Killing of Osama bin Laden

Mark Bowden, Author
Mark Bowden. Atlantic Monthly, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2034-2
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Bestselling author Bowden (Black Hawk Down) follows the long and often cold trail from 9/11 to a compound in Abbottabad, Paki-stan, where “a hand-picked... Dream Team” of U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden, in this sketchy and surprisingly vapid account. Relying on interviews with President Barack Obama and many of the national security officials directly involved in the planning of the mission, Bowden shows how “a sophisticated targeting engine” that included supercomputers and surveillance drones tracked down the elusive terrorist mastermind beginning with a single name. Bowden did not interview any of the SEAL team members on the raid, and the action takes place mostly in comfortable government offices far from the tip of the spear. Despite silence from the SEALs, the omniscient author knows what was on their minds (“The one thing... always in their thoughts was danger...”) and in their hearts (they “were veterans of many raids, hardened to violence and death”). The hero of Bowden’s narrative seems to be Obama, who risked his presidency on the type of uncertain raid that had doomed Jimmy Carter. Readers expecting a detailed, dramatic account of the raid on the Abbottabad compound will be disappointed. Agent: Robert Barnett, Williams & Connolly. (Oct. 16)
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