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Jawbreaker: The Attack on bin Laden and al-Qaeda: A Personal Account by the CIA's Key Field Commander | [Gary Berntsen, Ralph Pezzullo]

Jawbreaker: The Attack on bin Laden and al-Qaeda: A Personal Account by the CIA's Key Field Commander

In Jawbreaker, Gary Berntsen, until recently one of the CIA's most decorated officers, comes out from under cover for the first time to describe his no-holds-barred pursuit of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda.
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Publisher's Summary

In Jawbreaker, Gary Berntsen, until recently one of the CIA's most decorated officers, comes out from under cover for the first time to describe his no-holds-barred pursuit of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

With his unique mix of clandestine knowledge and paramilitary training, Berntsen represents the new face of counterterrorism. Recognized within the agency for his aggressiveness, Berntsen, when dispatched to Afghanistan, made annihilating the enemy his job description.

As the CIA's key commander coordinating the fight against the Taliban forces around Kabul, and the drive toward Tora Bora, Berntsen not only led dozens of CIA and Special Operations Forces, he also raised 2,000 Afghan fighters to aid in the hunt for bin Laden.

In this first-person account of that incredible pursuit, which actually began years earlier in an East Africa bombing investigation, Berntsen describes being ferried by rickety helicopter over the towering peaks of Afghanistan, sitting by General Tommy Franks' side as heated negotiations were conducted with Northern Alliance generals, bargaining relentlessly with treacherous Afghan warlords and Taliban traitors, plotting to save hostages about to be used as pawns, calling in B-52 strikes on dug-in enemy units, and deploying a dizzying array of Special Forces teams in the pursuit of the world's most wanted terrorist. Most crucially, Berntsen tells of cornering bin Laden in the Tora Bora mountains, and what happened when Berntsen begged Washington to block the al-Qaeda leader's last avenue of escape.

As disturbingly eye-opening as it is adrenaline-charged, Jawbreaker races from CIA war rooms to diplomatic offices to mountaintop redoubts to paint a vivid portrait of a new kind of warfare, showing what can and should be done to deal a death blow to freedom's enemies.

©2006 Gary Berntsen and Ralph Pezzullo; (P)2006 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Jawbreaker is both a thrilling read and a timely reminder of why America needs a clandestine service." (James Dobbins, Director of International Security and Defense Policy, Rand Corporation; Former U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan)

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4.1 (199 )
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4.3 (19 )
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  •  
    headman Bay Village, OH 01-12-06
    headman Bay Village, OH 01-12-06 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "So That's What Happened"

    Excellent book. I could not stop listening to it. I never had a clear picture of this conflict from the media reports, at the time. This book makes sense how this operation was formed and orchestrated.

    Thank God there are people watching over us.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scotty Florida 01-23-06
    Scotty Florida 01-23-06 Listener Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
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    "Outstanding"

    This is THE story of the toppling of the Taliban. Nearly impossible to put down. Very enjoyable!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John C. Roberts Utah 01-30-06
    John C. Roberts Utah 01-30-06 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
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    "Outstanding Book"

    This book is a real eyeopener! Highly recommended!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rick Cocoa, FL, USA 05-29-08
    Rick Cocoa, FL, USA 05-29-08 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent, very informative, behind the scenes"

    I would have rated this 5 stars if the CIA had not "redacted" a good portion of it. However, in it's stripped form, the book has a wealth of knowledge and demonstrates the importance of allowing commanders on the ground to make timely and appropriate decisions with the complete support from back home. It also sheds light on how even at the pinnacle of the those working to defend against threats to mandkind there is reservation about sending people out to get the job done.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Book and Movie Lover Austin 03-14-06
    Book and Movie Lover Austin 03-14-06 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Real"

    Wow, this was a great book. I love to keep up with what goes on in the world but most of what goes on behind the scenes in the CIA is kept from public view. This book, Jawbreaker, finally lets us see what those guys are really up against. I have more of an appreciation than ever for the danger we are in and the bravery of anyone who will join the military or the CIA. One negative about the book was that it was heavily censored. I'm looking forward to listening to it again without the censoring. Even with the censoring I still give this book 5 stars.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alan M 03-08-06
    Alan M 03-08-06 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A little disappointing"

    Of course, I applaud the author for everything he has done for his country. However, I was disappointed in the audiobook. There was very little included that I didn't already know from other sources. This was an abridgement, yet still included details like what the author had for breakfast on certain days. This book was also hampered by all the redactions forced on the author by the CIA.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    michael Rancho Cucamong CA 91730 10-15-10
    michael Rancho Cucamong CA 91730 10-15-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Amazing story"

    Amazing chain of events now revealed..kind of..throughout the narration the CIA cut out much of the detail to the public so the narrator simply says "redaction follows" before something that is blocked. Other than that though the actual story revealed is pretty dam badass. Hard working individuals determined to seek and destroy any threat to all Americans. Glory and sacrifice.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Stewart Denver, CO 01-29-10
    M. Stewart Denver, CO 01-29-10 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent"

    This is a very exciting and interesting piece. Great inside information. Well written and read. I have listened more than once.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jon Tempe, AZ, USA 12-23-06
    Jon Tempe, AZ, USA 12-23-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Listen to this, it's great."

    This is the only book I've rated at five stars so far. What a difference it makes when it is narrated by the author, and done well! The emphasis was done as the author intended, with his understanding of the material, which simply can not be replicated. The danger then lies with the possibility that the voice simply doesn't fit. Berntsen's does, remarkably well.

    The material itself was great too. Like another listener, I simply don't remember hearing much about our invasion of Afghansitan. Despite bin Laden's escape and Hussein's capture, I can't help but believe this attack was far more successful.

    Of course, it was hard to digest the redacted bits, but their presence is ultimately forgivable, given the freshness of the material. Our operations are undoubtedly still going on in that nation. We have placed our trust in those individuals to accomplish a gritty task. Do we or do we not owe it to them to allow them to work in as safe an environment as we can create? If you don't understand this, imagine assaulting
    a bank held by hostage-takers that are watching your every move on the nightly news. Wouldn't you want some secrecy to protect you?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott R. Shelhamer Bartlett, TN USA 04-27-06
    Scott R. Shelhamer Bartlett, TN USA 04-27-06 Member Since 2004

    AeroScott

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Must Read"

    Simply fantastic, only wish the CIA would have let them include all the information they wanted to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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