The Finish, by Mark Bowden

This is a good book, highly recommended, a complex story well-told.

Bowden notes that in many of his final letters, Osama bin Laden has a “quaint courtesy,” and indeed his language does sound oddly cute.  Here’s an excerpt from one written close to his death:

It would be nice if you would pick a number of brothers, not to exceed ten, and send them to their countries individually, without knowing the others, to study aviation… it would be nice if you would ask the brothers in all regions if they have a brother distinguished by good manners, integrity, courage, and secretiveness, who can operate in the United States…

It would be nice.  Maybe it’s the translation.  Osama also doesn’t think too much of Joe Biden, advising in another letter:

The reason for concentrating on [trying to kill Obama, but not other high-level Americans, during a possible visit to Afghanistan] is that he is the head of infidelity and killing him will automatically make Biden take over the presidency for the remainder of the term, as it is the norm over there.  Biden is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the United States into crisis.

Anyway, the book has some excellent information on the lives and careers of figures key to the hunt for Bin Laden.  I learned, for instance, that on 9/11, Bill McRaven, later head of Joint Special Operations Command, was in a hospital bed, having had his pelvis cracked and his back broken during a parachute accident.

Bowden introduces speechwriter and Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, noting his”prematurely thinning black hair.”  Later, we learn, “his hair had thinned on top.”

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