The Longest War

  • by Peter L. Bergen
  • Narrated by Peter Ganim
  • 16 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Ten years have passed since the shocking attacks on the World Trade Center, and after seven years of conflict, the last U.S. combat troops left Iraq - only to move into Afghanistan, where the 10-year-old fight continues. The war on terror rages with no clear end in sight.
In The Longest War, Peter Bergen offers a comprehensive history of this war and its evolution, from the strategies devised in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to the fighting in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and beyond. Unlike any other book on this subject, here Bergen tells the story of this shifting wars failures and successes from the perspectives of both the United States and al-Qaeda and its allies. He goes into the homes of al-Qaeda members, rooting into the source of their devotion to terrorist causes, and spends time in the offices of the major players shaping the U.S. strategic efforts in the region.
At a time when many are frustrated or fatigued with what has become an enduring multigenerational conflict, this book will provide an illuminating narrative that not only traces the arc of the fight but projects its likely future.
Weaving together internal documents from al-Qaeda and the U.S. offices of counterterrorism, first-person interviews with top-level jihadists and senior Washington officials, along with his own experiences on the ground in the Middle East, Bergen balances the accounts of each side, revealing how al-Qaeda has evolved since 9/11 and the specific ways the U.S. government has responded in the ongoing fight. Bergen also uncovers the strategic errors committed on both sides - including the way that al-Qaeda's bold attack on the United States on 9/11 actually undermined its objective and caused the collapse of the Taliban and the destruction of the organizations safe haven in Afghanistan, and how al-Qaeda is actually losing the war of ideas in the Muslim world.

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What the Critics Say

Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2011
"For readers interested in a highly informed, wide-angled, single-volume briefing on the war on terror so far, The Longest War is clearly that essential book....The lucidity, knowledge and carefully reasoned logic of [Bergen's] arguments lend his assessments credibility and weight, even when he is challenging conventional wisdom." (The New York Times)
“When the War on Terror is consigned to the history books, one name will dominate as the steady, clear-eyed chronicler of that period. Peter Bergen was among the first to note the rise of al-Qaeda, and he is still on the case. The Longest War is a vital and essential account of the central conflict of our times.” (Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11)
"The first [book] to credibly cover the global sweep of events over the last 10 years, exploring not just American views but also Al Qaeda's....“The Longest War” is one of the most important accounts on the subject to appear in years. But be warned: You will read it and weep." (New York Times Book Review)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

very good, completes the picture - take a listen

Good listen, recommended. Very good narrator, material is in depth and well-put together. Have read/listened to a dozen books on the war, early Bin Laden, Irag, Afghanistan, Bush, etc. This covers a great deal of the same ground but is more complete and relevant with excellent new source material from those who participated in the process. I was part of the 5% of the USA population against the Iraq war when we went in, and dislike Bush and his administration intensely...but I must admit this book improved my view of Bush himself, while Condi Rice comes away as more damaged and Cheney and his cohorts remain evil. Also over time I become so consumed with how bad the Bush team was and how screwed up the war was it is a pleasant surprise to listen here to how well - proportionately - things are going now and how Bin Laden is back on his heels. The current group of military commanders also comes through in a positive light. Take a listen, this completes the picture, rounds out what you know and will give you hope.
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- J

Credit where credit is due

I was interested in this book for a couple reasons. I recently read George Friedman's "America's Secret War" (which I loved) and wanted to see what Bergen thought about the way the Iraq war was sold to the American people. I also wanted to learn more about David Patraeus, the Anbar Awakening, and "the Surge". In general I found Bergen's account of the build-up to the Iraq war naive and missing the strategic and geopolitical reasons for the war that Friedman discusses. It was clearly bias and falls into the trap of believing that Bush is a fool, a trap that I fell into many times during his administration. I do give Bergen credit for his account of "the surge". He gives full credit to Bush for his willingness to keep in the fight and allowing Patraeus to pull victory from the jaws of defeat. And yes, it was victory that I never thought would be possible. More importantly, it demonstrated to the world that American resolve should not be underestimated. Obama gets it now and I bet that he has much more respect for Bush than he did before moving into the White House. Obama might even be a little embarrassed about some of his naive foreign policy remarks during the campaign.

Final thoughts: Bergen is a journalist with an above average understanding of the big picture when compared to his peers. But as we all know, that isn't much of compliment. The first half of the book betrays his agenda and his inability to grasp the strategic picture. The second half of the book saved it for me, especially the account of the surge. It gave me a new respect for Patraeus and his place in history.
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- Paul Stiles

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-11-2011
  • Publisher: Audible Studios