Osama: The Making of a Terrorist (Paperback)

The Making of a Terrorist

By Jonathan Randal

Vintage Books USA, 9780375708237, 346pp.

Publication Date: September 13, 2005



How is it possible for one middle-aged Saudi millionaire to threaten the world's only superpower? This is the question at the center of Jonathan Randal's riveting, timely account of Osama bin Laden's life and role in the rise of terrorism in the Middle East. Randal traces the current sources of Osama's money and tells us why the Iraq war has played into the hands of the terrorists, while also providing essential insight and background on the history of American involvement in the Middle East. With his long-maintained sources in the Middle East and his intimate understanding of the region, Randal gives us a clearer explanation than any we have had of the whys and wherefores of the world's most prominent and feared terrorist.

About the Author

Jonathan Randal was born in 1933 in Buffalo, New York, and educated at Exeter and Harvard. He spent his junior year in France, and after serving as a private in the U.S. Army in Europe, he started out as a foreign correspondent in the mid-1950s in Paris and over the decades has worked for United Press, the old Paris Herald, Time, The New York Times and, for nearly thirty years, The Washington Post. As a war correspondent he reported the Algerian War of Independence from France, followed by wars and crises in the Congo, Vietnam, Iran, Lebanon, Kurdistan, Bosnia, Liberia, and a dozen other combat zones. He considers himself privileged to have witnessed these events and lucky to have survived when so many of his colleagues did not. Randal is the author of Going All the Way: Christian Warlords, Israeli Adventurers and the War in Lebanon and After Such Knowledge, What Forgiveness? My Encounters with Kurdistan.

Praise For Osama: The Making of a Terrorist

"Detailed and fast paced. . . . Of all the flutter of bin Laden and Al Qaeda books, Randal has produced the most readable and informative." —Richard Clarke, The Boston Globe"Essential. . . . well-written and authoritative. . . . [Randal’s] book isn't a conventional biography. It is more important: a contextualization and explication of the strains of Middle Eastern fundamentalism that have made bin Laden an incurable migraine for the United States." --Atlanta Journal-Constitution"With impressive perspective, the author reveals the underpinnings of jihadism. . . . A skillful, yet highly opinionated, examination of the rise of modern Islamic terrorism." --The Miami Herald“American policymakers would do well . . . to glean perceptions from [this] seasoned man-of-the-world.” --The Washington Post Book World"Fascinating. . . . Better than any previous author, [Randal] explains the volatile regional milieu that enabled a minor son of a Saudi contracting potentate to become a hero." --BusinessWeek"Very worthwhile, illuminating without being alarmist. . . . The beauty of Randal's narrative is how richly it's rooted in his reporting experiences." --Christian Science Monitor“[A] meticulous account of the emergence and spread of the terror virus [and a] map of world that produced him and his fellow Islamists.” --New York Times Book Review"Fascinates. . . . The main value of the book is the political background it provides of the Islamic world. Here the author . . . is in his element; he has interviewed ambassadors, security chiefs and heads of state. He has watched their maneuvers and knows their motives." --The Seattle Times"A useful primer about what we know--and all we don't know--about terrorism." --USA Today“The volume does a nimble and often highly compelling job of leading the reader through the labyrinth of information and speculation about Al Qaeda and the broader jihadi movement.”--New York Times"Wonderful. . . . Randal has combined worldliness, impressive knowledge and a compelling writing style to produce a morbidly fascinating work." --The Plain Dealer"Excellent. . . . Authoritative and most informative. . . . Randal has access to key figures and offers insights that a less experienced correspondent could not provide. . . . [An] insightful analysis of the administration's current Middle East policy." --St. Louis Post-Dispatch"Richly researched. . . . An interesting and useful book." --Newsday"Absorbing. . . . [Randal writes] with the urgency of first-hand experience, with the authority of a man who's spent decades seeing the United States through the eyes of the Third World." --San Antonio Express-News "Irresistible. By involving the reader in his own peregrinations, Randal has produced a first-person adventure that blends analysis and reportage." --The News & Observer (Raleigh)"[An] insightful look at the world's most famous terrorist." --Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel"Compelling. . . . Arresting observations. . . . The author draws on his vast experience to produce a balanced and revealing portrait of the man and the radical Islamic movement. . . . A timely and important work of first-rate reporting that provides invaluable insight." --Flint Journal"Thorough and lucid. . . . [Randal] takes the public Osama and demonstrates the ways, sometimes openly, sometimes shadowy, that he moved through [the Arab and Muslim] world before Sept. 11. . . . Such insight is worth the price of the book. . . . A valuable addition to [Randal's] much-admired body of work." --Rocky Mountain News"Interesting. . . . Insightful. . . . Worthwhile. . . . Randal is at his best when intuiting the nuances of terrorism and the particular Middle Eastern culture [from] whence it springs. . . . American policymakers would do well to . . . glean perceptions from [him]." --Newark Star-Ledger "Both fascinating and frightening. . . . Seriously deepens the reader's understanding of bin Laden." --Santa Fe New Mexican"Fascinating. . . . [Randal] provides insight into the leader's personal life and personality. . . . [His] intimate understanding of the politics of the region make this one of the better biographies of this most elusive man." --Tucson Citizen"Prepare to be chilled: It's hard to see how one could not be disquieted by Jonathan Randal's Osama. . . . [He] refuses to sugarcoat anything." --Kansas City Star"Insightful, spare, and quite readable. . . . In this well-researched and thoughtful book, Randal offers us much to reflect upon this man whose idea, movement, and legacy will be with us for a long time to come." --Decatur Daily