This big book details the diverse conflicts that shaped the decade after 9/11: not only the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq but also Europe’s struggles with jihadist terrorism and the uneasy U.S.-Pakistani relationship. After opening with the U.S. action against Afghanistan after 9/11, the story treats the early years of the U.S. invasion of Iraq before moving on to Europe in mid-decade (in the chapter “Bombs, Riots, and Cartoons”) and Iraq during the “surge.” In what is perhaps the strongest portion of the book, Burke returns to Afghanistan and adds Pakistan to the narrative, which culminates in the dispatching of Osama bin Laden in May 2011. Throughout, Burke reconstructs and judges what the different protagonists, especially the United States and al Qaeda, were thinking and doing. He argues convincingly that the political realities of the post-9/11 era are best captured not by focusing on would-be centers of global terrorism but by examining the different circumstances of communities within the wider Muslim world, including Muslims living in the West.
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