Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America's Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda (Paperback)

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"Fast paced, gripping . . . [a] well written dive into the arcane world of counterterrorism over the past decade ." —Foreign Policy

In Counterstrike, Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker of The New York Times take readers into a previously hidden theater of war, as U.S. ground troops, intelligence operatives, and top executive branch officials have fashioned effective new strategies to fight terrorism, in sharp contrast to the cowboy slogans that once characterized the U.S. government's public posture. They show how these innovative strategies, drawn from classic Cold War deterrence theory, were employed in the dramatic raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed, and in a new afterword the authors point to the ongoing challenges and successes facing America in the Middle East, in cyberspace, and at home.

Filled with startling revelations about how our national security is being managed, Counterstrike will change the way Americans think about the ongoing struggle with violent radical extremism.

About the Author


Eric Schmitt is a terrorism correspondent for The New York Times and has embedded with troops in Iraq, Somalia, and Pakistan. Schmitt has twice been a member of Times reporting teams that were awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He is the co-author of Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America's Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda.

Thom Shanker, a Pentagon correspondent for The New York Times, routinely spends time embedded with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Shanker was formerly a foreign editor and correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, based in Moscow, Berlin, and Sarajevo. He is co-author of Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America's Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda.

Praise For…


“Insightful... Counterstrike... is not just another book about Sept. 11, Iraq or Afghanistan. Rather, it focuses on the various military and civilian agency responses to terrorism [with a] strong portrayal of the many unheralded United States victories.... Americans should take comfort in this book's reminder that their government can adapt to meet threats as they change, keeping them safer--if not necessarily safe--from terrorism.” —Daniel Byman, The New York Times

“There is a flood of 9/11 books now coming onto the market, but Counterstrike by Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker of the New York Times should be atop the list of anyone curious about how the U.S. government has grappled with the challenges posed by al Qaeda.” —Time.com

Counterstrike provides a detailed look at the changes that have occurred and the personalities behind those decisions, as well as the complicated global chessboard of terror networks and sympathetic governments that made adaptation so vital.” —The Boston Globe

“This eye-opening account of how the U.S. government has vastly upgraded its counterterrorism efforts since Sept. 11 reminds readers that while the threat from al Qaeda and its affiliates persists, so does the American will to strike back.” —Joshua Sinai, The Washington Times

“In Counterstrike, Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker, reporters for the New York Times, warn that another catastrophic terrorist event is inevitable, but their behind-the-scenes account of the evolution of U.S. counterterrorism strategy gives officials the highest marks... Counterstrike is a glowing portrayal of the American intelligence community.” —Robert D. Crews, San Francisco Chronicle

“Masterful ... A fast paced, gripping story... A well reported, well written dive into the arcane world of counterterrorism over the past decade... [Counterstrike] is a significant contribution to our body of knowledge regarding our campaign thus far in the 'Long War' against al-Qaeda and affiliated groups.” —Michael Waltz, Foreign Policy

“A must read... After ten years of conflict comes a book that, with amazing clarity, tells how the strategy for the 'War on Terror' has dramatically evolved... The authors capture the successes, the failures, the opportunities and the still-lingering gaps over the past decade and look ahead to the nation's future challenges.” —Military.com

“The book [Counterstrike] sheds light on offensive U.S. cyber operations almost never discussed by U.S. officials.” —Bloomberg.com

New York Times correspondents Schmitt and Shanker review events after 9/11, focusing on government and military counterterrorism experts who convinced administration ideologues to switch gears... [A] reassuring argument that, after an expensive and massive effort, terrorism seems on the decline.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A remarkable detective story by two of the nation's best reporters. With meticulous research and fine storytelling, Counterstrike reveals who, what, when, where, and why in describing the long campaign by the United States government to demolish Al Qaeda and ultimately to kill Osama bin Laden.” —Rick Atkinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of An Army at Dawn

Counterstrike lays bare the provocative new ideas that are driving the war on terrorism. Generals often talk about changing the hearts and minds of people in faraway lands, but Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker reveal the importance of changing the hearts and minds of America's defense strategists. This is a groundbreaking intellectual history that is also a great read.” —Jessica Stern, author of Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill

“Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker dig deep to tell the story of the covert campaign to defeat Al Qaeda, from the CIA to the Pentagon. Counterstrike is a richly reported work that is a seminal account of the battle between America and Al Qaeda since 9/11.” —Peter Bergen, author of The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict Between America and Al-Qaeda

“Filled with amazing characters and details, Counterstrike traces the evolution of America's strategy for stopping the next attack. It's a fascinating story and a great read, too.” —Dexter Filkins, author of The Forever War

Counterstrike scores a direct hit. Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker, two of America's most respected national security correspondents, provide pathbreaking reporting on and incisive analysis of the secret war against Al Qaeda after 9/11. This cogent history of America's elusive search for a strategy - essential reading for specialists and concerned citizens alike - should inform our national debate on how best to counter this most urgent threat.” —Lee H. Hamilton, former congressman and co-chair of the 9/11 Commission

“Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker have written a brilliant and important account of America's battle with Al Qaeda. It is an exceptional work in that it truly addresses strategic issues and not just the tactical fight. There are critical insights and recommendations provided in this book that make it a must-read for all those who want to understand how we must deal with this complex threat.” —General Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (retired)

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250012197
ISBN-10: 1250012198
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: August 7th, 2012
Pages: 352
Language: English