Donald Holbrook

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[Cross-posted from New Books in National SecurityDonald Holbrook‘s The Al-Qaeda Doctrine: The Framing and Evolution of the Leadership’s Public Discourse (Bloomsbury, 2014) represents a significant scholarly contribution to the study of Al-Qaeda and Islamic terrorism more broadly. Through a remarkably exhaustive, longitudinal study of over 260 public statements from Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden, Dr. Holbrook exposes Al-Qaeda’s ideology, grievances, objectives, and inconsistencies. He brings a level of rigor to this subject which is frequently absent in “expert” studies on terrorism, having databased and coded Al-Qaeda communiqués for a variety of topics and characteristics. The Al-Qaeda Doctrine will likely become the definitive scholarly monograph on the subject for many years to come. Holbrook’s work is indeed becoming more relevant every day, as ideological ruptures emerge in the jihadist community, most recently evidenced by the Al-Qaeda leadership’s furious response to the Islamic State’s newly declared caliphate. The book’s assessment of Al-Qaeda’s success – indeed its lack thereof – in propagating its message and inspiring a “vanguard” in the Muslim world is also notable; The Al-Qaeda Doctrine‘s sober analysis of this, and many other topics, is  a welcome refreshment from the sometimes sensationalist treatment which this topic is prone to. I highly recommend The Al-Qaeda Doctrine to students, scholars, and practitioners alike, all of whom will be able glean many valuable insights from Holbrook’s unique work. I look forward to further publications by Holbrook, as well as fresh additions to Bloomsbury’s New Directions in Terrorism Studies series.

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Randall L. SchwellerMaxwell’s Demon and the Golden Apple: Global Discord in the New Millennium

August 11, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Political Science] Randall L. Schweller is Professor of Political Science and a Social and Behavioral Sciences Joan N. Huber Faculty Fellow at Ohio State University.  He has written Maxwell’s Demon and the Golden Apple: Global Discord in the New Millennium (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014) In Maxwell’s Demon, Schweller examines the future of world politics, by [...]

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Mark MazzettiThe Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth

August 8, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Terrorism and Organized Crime] There are many movies about evil CIA agents assassinating supposed enemies of the US. Those who saw the latest Captain America movie will have witnessed the plan by Hydra (a fascist faction within a secret agency presumably within the CIA) build floating gunships that can identify and eliminate [...]

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Samuel TottenGenocide by Attrition: The Nuba Mountains of Sudan

July 18, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Genocide Studies] Most of the authors I’ve interviewed for this show have addressed episodes in the past, campaigns of mass violence that occurred long ago, often well-before the author was born. Today’s show is different. In his book Genocide by Attrition: The Nuba Mountains of Sudan (Transaction Publishers, 2012), Samuel Totten addresses the violence against the [...]

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James CopnallA Poisonous Thorn in Our Hearts: Sudan and South Sudan’s Bitter and Incomplete Divorce

June 20, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Book in African Studies] July 2011 saw that rarest of events – an attempt to resolve a conflict in Africa by the redrawing of borders. It saw the birth of South Sudan as a fully fledged country after decades of conflict going back to the days of independence. It is obviously far too [...]

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Barry Rubin and Wolfgang G. SchwanitzNazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East

May 11, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in History] This book tells a remarkable and–to me at least–little known but very important story. In Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East (Yale UP, 2014), Barry Rubin and Wolfgang G. Schwanitz trace the many connections between Germany–Imperial and Nazi–and the Arab world. Their particular focus is on a fellow named Amin al-Husseini, the [...]

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Benedetta BertiArmed Political Organizations: From Conflict to Integration

October 28, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in Political Science] Benedetta Berti is the author of Armed Political Organizations: from Conflict to Integration (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013). Berti is a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) and a lecturer at Tel Aviv University. The book investigates the inner workings of three organizations: Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Irish Republican [...]

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Eric Schmitt and Thom ShankerCounterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda

October 25, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in Terrorism and Organized Crime] There are many books about the war against Al Qaeda. Most of these focus on counter-terrorism or counter insurgency military tactics or espionage operations. These books have become more frequent with the death of Osama Bin Laden. Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda (Times Books, [...]

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Lidwien KapteijnsClan Cleansing in Somalia: The Ruinous Legacy of 1991

October 16, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in Human Rights] Lidwien Kapteijns is author of Clan Cleansing in Somalia: The Ruinous Legacy of 1991 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012). She is the Kendall/Hodder Professor of History at Wellesley College. When the Somali dictator Mohamed Siad Barre (1969-1991) was expelled from Mogadishu in January 1991, the violence unleashed by competing political and military leaders [...]

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Christopher PowellBarbaric Civilization: A Critical Sociology of Genocide

September 21, 2013

What exactly is genocide? Is there a fundamental difference between episodes of genocide and how we go about our daily life? Or can it be said that the roots of the modern world, or civilization itself, has the potential to produce genocide? If the latter is true, then what does is say about us and [...]

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