From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Note that this section is not meant to be taken as formal book reviews, nor legitimate commentary on the authors. It is only meant to help those people interested in perusing books to find information on global terrorism determine whether a book is worth purchasing/loaning - or they might regret the experience. My own biases mean that books of pure information are valued more highly than those that try to impart extrapolation and commentary on events. The list contains only those books I have read fully throughout, with a critical eye, typically marking up the jacket cover with dozens of pencil notes, page references and similar errata.

  • Begg, Moazzam. "Enemy Combatant", 2006.
3/5, the definition of a self-serving book meant to exonerate the subject who is also its author, it is nevertheless a thorough account (from his view) of how he spent his youth, why and how he was captured, and includes snippets of conversations and impressions he had of other Guantanamo captives.
  • Bell, Stewart. "Cold Terror: How Canada Nurtures and Exports Terrorism to the World ", 2004.
3/5, although definitely a fear-mongering type of book that blows everything out of proportion so a simple gas station robbery can appear a harbinger of Armageddon, it does contain specific details Bell has collected himself from primary sources, that cannot be found elsewhere as well as a great collection of rare photographs.
  • Bell, Stewart. "Martyr's Oath", 2005
4/5, better than his previous book in that it follows a single militant, Mohammed Jabarah, and manages to not veer off into so many unrelated tangents. Family details, and clear cooperation and information from CSIS - though its index is the worst ever compiled.
  • Bergen, Peter. "Holy War Inc.", 2001.
4/5, in the weeks and months following 9/11, dozens of books were released promising us an insider view on the jihad; but most of them were absolute crap, taken from idea to manuscript to store shelves in eight weeks, with recycled garbage, newspaper clippings and internet hypotheses as the basis of their work. Bergen, of course, was different and the first "good" book to appear. He offers little-known glimpses not only into al-Qaeda members he met personally such as UBL, but also those whom he knows only through reputation and colleagues. Lack of photographs, and the unfortunate fact it only covers events up until 9/11 are its only drawbacks.
  • Diab, Robert. "Guantanamo North", 2008.
2/5, an incredibly narrow book - not just a reference to its scant 100 pages - it covers a very slim topic, the implementation of the Canadian Anti-Terrorism Act in late 2001. He makes random references to Arar and Security certificates, but everything is written from the perspective of a law professor "assessing the climate of emergency [to] expand state privilege to have the most crucial impact on the administration of justice".
  • Garzone, Mark. "Canada's Spies Attacked Me: A True Story of CSIS Terrorizing a Canadian Abroad", 2006.
1/5, a thin booklet independently published by a man convinced that every piece of litter he sees blowing in the wind is a scary intimidation tactic by CSIS. Contains no information on the workings of the group, from either perspective, and no insight into what the author feels he has done to attract attention.
  • Hamilton, Dwight. "Terror Threat: International and Homegrown terrorists and their threat to Canada", 2007.
2/5, written by a Toronto Sun reporter, does not contain many specific details of events, nor anything that can't already be gleaned from Wikipedia itself where it seems much of his information likely originated. 250 pages, only 30 pages of useful facts, the rest is just mindless talk unrelated to Canada, just theorising on why terrorists hate us, and how they convince people to take up arms. Annoying habit of saying "a man was arrested in 1989..." without giving any names or biographic details.
  • Katz, Samuel M. "Relentless Pursuit: The DSS and the Manhunt for the Bin Laden Terorists", 2002
4/5, although it deals with a frustratingly low number of terrorist cases, typically Ramzi Yousef, Kansi and the like; it does offer unique glimpses into authorities' pursuit, and the actual circumstances surrounding capture. Even includes rare photographs of Yousef in custody not seen elsewhere.
  • Nasiri, Omar. "Inside the Jihad: My Life with Al Qaeda", 2008.
3/5, although an excellent telling of daily life within one of the most notable training camps, the "secret agent" Omar Nasiri makes a number of factual errors misidentifying people and dates, as he tries to connect himself to every known terrorist in Afghanistan. While it's good to get an overview of the mundane behind-the-scenes workings of these groups, it would be dangerous to rely on his individual "facts".
  • Oliver, Anne Marie. "The Road to Martyr's Square", 2005.
5/5, the two authors traveled to Palestine to interview the families, trainers and colleagues of literally dozens of shaheed, suicide bombers in the intifada. They collect celebratory pamphlets, videos, photographs of the unique graffito, and present their voluminous information always as "his mother believes" or "the Israelis claim". There is no attempt to make you like the suicide bombers, only to understand what drove them to Martyr's Square.
  • Vidino, Lorenzo. "Al-Qaeda in Europe"
2/5, more a collection of one-sentence descriptions of every Muslim in Europe whose name has been printed in newspapers over the last ten years, Vidino gives equally little analysis to major players and minor players; mass attacks and passport violations. Everything is easily referenced back to basic news stories, no original research.
  • Worthington, Andy. "The Guantanamo Files", 2007.
4/5, although based primarily on the same CSRT and ARB documents that OCD readers have doubtlessly already scoured, Worthington manages to bring the individual stories of detainees into small little biographic images of some of the "least known" captives in the War on Terror. These are not the KSMs, these are the footsoldiers, cooks and chauffeurs who had the bad luck to have their employer's name appear on a list somewhere.
  • "9/11 Commission Report", 2004
4/5, although a careful reader can find several careless mistakes by the authors, and similar information that has since been disproven, the simple quantity of information contained chiefly in the appendices is overwhelmingly useful; you can find travel documents for hijackers, portrait photos of alleged accomplices, who was a roommate with whom. Don't believe it all as 100% fact; but it's a great jumping-off point. Just don't get bogged down reading the summaries, watch for the actual appendices and footnotes; that's where the true information lies.