Kirkus Reviews –
An exciting insider account of the vast, secretive effort to track and kill the al-Qaeda leader. Shortly after coming into office, President Obama urged CIA Chief Leon Panetta to redouble the efforts to find Osama bin Laden; the trail had grown cold despite the dozen high-level intelligence officers working on the case for a decade. Only in 2010 did the monitoring of a Kuwaiti courier's cellphone use suggest ties to bin Laden, and they followed his car to the compound in the quiet Pakistani town of Abbottabad, where he actually lived with bin Laden's extended family. A CIA safe house was set up nearby to observe the "pattern of life" details: the wives and children living at the compound and never leaving, the wash hanging on the line, the mysterious "pacer" who walked around the "jail yard" and never left. In fact, bin Laden had lived there for years, increasingly isolated and out of touch with his network and with only the Kuwaiti and his brother as guards and conduits to the outside world. CNN national security analyst Bergen (, 2011, etc.) ably delineates the U.S. government decision-making process in pursuing the Special Operations infiltration of the compound, despite the lack of certainty that bin Laden was actually there. Officials also had to consider America's delicate relationship with Pakistan. In three weeks of rehearsal, SEAL teams manipulated every eventuality, even the helicopter mishap that actually happened. Bergen also stresses the enormity of the political risks undertaken by Obama and his staff, and he pursues the aftermath in terms of wounded Pakistan-U.S. relations and the spelling of the "twilight" for al-Qaeda. A compelling story, told with authority, of the final takedown of likely the most wanted criminal in history.
Kirkus Reviews –
Staunch advocacy for the Rebuild the Dream movement by its co-founder, who argues that to rebuild America's economy requires not simply a strong leader but a mass social movement. Jones (The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems, 2008), an environmental activist and former special advisor to the Obama administration on clean-energy jobs, begins by examining the movements that preceded and helped to elect Obama and those that emerged to challenge him. As he scrutinizes the Tea Party, the author asks what can be learned from its success and what the Occupy movement needs to do to achieve its goals. Jones sifts through both the accomplishments and the mistakes of the Obama administration. In the second section, the author presents a neat framework that he calls the Heart Space/Head Space Grid for interpreting events and analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of movements. Political success stories, he writes, must contain four elements: villain, threat, hero and vision. He demonstrates the presence or absence of these four factors in the Obama campaign, the Obama administration, the Tea Party movement and the Occupy movement. To understand the mechanics behind these movements, he turns to swarm theory, the idea that decentralized, self-organized groups harness a sort of collective intelligence that renders them more resilient than vertical hierarchies. Jones describes how the Rebuild the Dream movement seeks consensus and bottom-up direction through community organizing, "crowd-sourcing," online petitions, digital projects and conferences. In the final section, the author introduces the Contract for the American Dream, a 10-point consensus-based program for reviving the economy based on local production, thrift, conservation and ecological restoration. Magazine-style sidebars accentuate the text, and simple diagrams illustrate the essential points of Jones' arguments. A confident clarion call sure to arouse controversy in this election year.
Based On Book Series by Robert B. Parker
Kirkus Reviews –
And the beat goes on. Handpicked by the Parker estate to be keeper of the flame for the Spenser franchise, award-winning author Ace Atkins (, 2011, etc.) rises flawlessly to the occasion. In addition to the signature dialogue, all the familiars are fully resurrected: Susan, the sexy shrink; Pearl, the wonder dog; Hawk, the wonder sidekick; good cop Quirk, and, of course, Spenser himself, that consummate knight errant for the 21st century. So there he is, Boston's premier peeper ( , 2011, etc.), laid-back as ever but--now that the torch has been passed--clearly ready to be engaged for the 40th time. At the moment he is atypically solvent thanks to a big fat check from a white-shoe law firm, earned, he acknowledges a bit guiltily, without breaking a sweat. Enter 14-year-old Mattie Sullivan, a waif with an attitude. He's charmed by her toughness, smarts, pink Boston Red Sox cap and the essential cuteness lurking beneath all that faux flintiness. Four years ago, she tells him, her mother was murdered. A suspect was duly arrested, tried, convicted and jailed for the crime--wrongfully, Mattie is now convinced. Will Spenser take the case? Five crumpled 20s are produced in aid of getting him started. Feeling slightly besmirched by his last case, Spenser spurns the 20s and hires on for a box of cinnamon donuts: "Sometimes a few hours of honest work was better than a bar of soap." Once again, however, on behalf of a damsel in distress, he has miscalculated the attendant danger, also his own invulnerability. Bullets fly, body bags fill and Spenser is lucky indeed not to be tucked into one of them. Parker fans will like it that the Atkins version is virtually indistinguishable from the prototype.