Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New bestsellers and ready for you.

The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War against al-Qaeda by Ali H. Soufan with Daniel Freedman

Library Journal - 

This book stands out among the numerous books published on al-Qaeda because it provides information not found in other volumes; many have relied on Soufan's information, at times anonymously, but none has offered all that is here. Soufan was the FBI's most knowledgeable special agent dealing with al-Qaeda's activities and became the source of the most useful actionable intelligence on this terrorist organization. As an interrogator with unique skills, Soufan gained firsthand, reliable information about many al-Qaeda operatives. What has been remarkable about the valuable information provided by Soufan to the FBI is that he obtained all of his data without resorting to torture and objected to the prevalent use of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques that were devised during the George W. Bush administration. This absorbing book details accounts of Soufan's treasure trove of data that he provided to the U.S. government well before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, some of which were ignored. VERDICT The best and most original book published in the West on al-Qaeda, this is highly recommended. (Although Soufan never worked for the CIA, the FBI submitted a draft of this book to the CIA, which redacted several sections. The CIA did not sign off on the index, which is why there is none.) [See Prepub Alert, 3/21/11.]—Nader Entessar, Univ. of South Alabama, Mobile

Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael Lewis

Library Journal - 

The cheap credit available from 2002 to 2008 radically transformed societies worldwide, with Icelanders tossing aside their fishing gear to become bankers, for instance. Then the crunch came, and many of these societies are stumbling about as part of the "new Third World." As a greedy debtor nation, we're not so far behind. Lewis's books are always excellent and always best sellers, so this should be at the top of your list.

Civilization: The West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson

Publishers Weekly - 

Ferguson (Colossus), Harvard historian, polymath, and bestselling author, joins others who’ve tried to explain the rise and dominance of the West, “the pre-eminent historical phenomenon of the second half of the second millennium after Christ.” He also has his eye on an increasingly pressing concern: the threats, from inside and outside, to Western hegemony. Ferguson attributes the West’s supremacy and the spread of Western ways to six factors: competition, science, property rights (the rule of law), medicine, the consumer society, and the work ethic. It’s a grab bag of plausible conditions that differ from reasons cited by other students of the subject, but all hard to prove. Ominously, from Ferguson’s perspective, “the fortuitous weakness of the West’s rivals” is turning to strengths, threatening Western supremacy. Turning from historian to seer, Ferguson thus foresees the West’s decline and fall (of which he seems convinced) arising from both self-inflicted wounds (such as self-indulgence and weakening educational systems) and the strengthening of nations, such as China, that are modernizing and improving the education of their young people. Perhaps. The book would have gained by greater focus and less of a jumble of details. The reason for Ferguson’s fear of “the rest” isn’t clear, but those who share his concern will find that he has penned a sobering caution.

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