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Capsule Review

Terrorism, Betrayal, and Resilience: My Story of the 1998 U.S. Embassy Bombings

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Terrorism, Betrayal, and Resilience: My Story of the 1998 U.S. Embassy Bombings
Terrorism, Betrayal, and Resilience: My Story of the 1998 U.S. Embassy Bombings
By Prudence Bushnell
, 2018 288 pp. Purchase

Despite the overwhelming focus on al Qaeda’s role in the 9/11 attacks, far less has been written about the group’s attacks against the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam three years earlier. Bushnell was the U.S. ambassador to Kenya at the time and was caught up in the blast that killed 213 people and left some 4,000 wounded. She describes how she had pressed for a more secure embassy before the bombing, the experience of the day itself, and the painful aftermath. The book is an autobiography, an investigation into the origins of the attack, and a lament about bureaucratic failings at the U.S. State Department, along with a discussion of how these might be addressed with better leadership. It is an angry book. Bushnell was told that she was overloading the circuits by pressing for better security, and the sloppy departmental response to the blasts still stings. Yet she also makes a compelling case that good diplomats can make a difference.

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