- Tapa blanda: 290 páginas
- Editor: Douglas and McIntyre (2013) Ltd. (10 de septiembre de 2011)
- Idioma: Inglés
- ISBN-10: 1771000562
- ISBN-13: 978-1771000567
- Valoración media de los clientes: Sé el primero en opinar sobre este producto
Decade of Fear: Reporting from Terrorism's Grey Zone (Inglés) Tapa blanda – 10 sep 2011
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One of Canada's leading journalists takes readers on a rollicking ten-year journey around the globe to tell the terrorism stories not often told. In the complicated world of terrorism and national security, issues are frequently reduced to sound bites or 500-word stories. But for a decade, the Toronto Star's national security correspondent Michelle Shephard has travelled where others have not, witnessing the impact of Western foreign policies that all too often make the world a more dangerous place, rather than a safer one. The intrepid journalist's ten-year journey through terrorism's grey zone began on September 11, 2001, when as a young crime reporter she stood where the World Trade Center once towered, her arms coated with debris that still fell from the sky. Like everyone else, she asked, "Why?" Shephard chased answers from Syria to Somalia, from the mountains of Pakistan and Yemen and into the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison. She had tea with men on the U.S. terrorism watch list, Osama bin Laden's bodyguard, a leader of Somalia's al Shabab, celebrated her 36th birthday in an Irish pub in Cuba's Gitmo, chewed the leafy narcotic qat in Yemen with high-level government officials and tribal leaders, and met a 17-year-old teenager in Mogadishu who broke her heart. She was one of only a handful of journalists to experience the "Arab awakening" from the streets of Sanaa. Shephard ends where she began, at Ground Zero, reporting on the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Decade of Fear is a sweeping non-fiction narrative, a journalist's journey, an analysis and indictment of all that went wrong since 9/11. It is also a look ahead at what could now go right.
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(Full disclosure: I'm thanked in the acknowledgments. But I don't believe my familiarity with the book or the fact that Shephard says some nice things about me blinds me to objectivity. In this case I think familiarity with the material is a plus.)
I think one of the strengths of Shephard's book is that it gives the reader a sense of how the war against al-Qaeda is being conducted in different places around the globe, the centers of upheaval like Yemen and Guantanamo Bay that we often hear about in passing, but never really get quality reports from. It is a story of the other side of the war against al-Qaeda. There is no Iraq or Afghanistan here, no big army or lengthy embedded trips (although there is a "spy cruise), but rather this is how the war looks from the shadows, the places where the US is fighting by other means.
And I think Shephard is the right person to tell the story, a Canadian, writing for the Toronto Star (Hemingway's old paper), she brings a slightly different lens to bear on events than an American might, sort of like looking at yourself in the mirror from a different angle - you see things you never noticed before.
The book is really is a snapshot of a lost decade, one that Shephard's title suggests will ultimately be remembered as a time of fear, when people, to paraphrase Gibbon, were more concerned of their safety than they were of their liberties.
The book does what good reporting is supposed to do: it makes a complicated world understandable without dumbing it down. And that is no easy task. The fact that she does it while telling a compelling story, made all the more real through the men and women she meets, makes reading it entertaining as well as educational.
If you want to know what has been happening in the shadows over the past decade this is a book for you.
Michelle's account puts a human face on the knotty legal, ethical, and political problems the United States and its allies have grappled with as they tried to stop al-Qaeda and its supporters: torture for information, overthrowing stable governments who might align with terrorist groups, rendition, entrapment, collateral damage, and indefinite detention. There are also the less "kinetic" but no-less-knotty problems like countering radicalization online in multi-cultural societies that value free speech.
What struck me most about Michelle's account was her juxtaposition of violence and inanity. Hassan Aweys, the head of a group allied with al-Shabab in Somalia, covets Michelle's boots. Hamid Gul, the former head of Pakistan's ISI and sponsor of some of the United States' worst enemies in the region, does not know who Tony Soprano is but, upon being told, empathizes with his bifurcated psyche. The white-polo-and-khaki-wearing Abu Jandal, UBL's chief bodygaurd, is gracious to Western journalists while explaining that Bin Laden didn't target the civilians in September. "He simply hit targets, and civilians happened to be around." Kitch and karaoke permeate Guantanamo, along with euphemisms to describe poor detainee treatment.
Wisely, Michelle does not try to resolve the contradictions or unravel the knots. But she is hopeful that the Arab Spring and the death of bin Laden will take the wind out of the sails of the global jihadi movement and help the United States and its allies put the threat in perspective so they can abandon some of their worst counterterrorism tools. Me too.