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Middle East

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  1. 14.4 hrs • 9/20/2016 • Unabridged

    The year is 1997, Michael Soussan, a fresh-faced young graduate takes up a new job at the UN’s Oil-for-Food Program, the largest humanitarian operation in the organization’s history. His mission is to help Iraqi civilians survive the devastating impact of economic sanctions that were imposed following the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. As a gaffe-prone novice in a world of sensitive taboos, Soussan struggles to negotiate the increasing paranoia of his incomprehensible boss and the inner workings of one of the world’s notoriously complex bureaucracies. But as he learns more about the vast sums of money flowing through the program, it becomes clear that all is not what it seems. Soussan becomes aware that Saddam Hussein is extracting illegal kickbacks, a discovery that sets him on a collision course with the organizations leadership. On March 8, 2004, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Soussan becomes the first insider to call for an independent investigation of the UN’s dealings with Saddam Hussein. One week later, a humiliated Kofi Annan appointed Paul Volcker to lead a team of sixty international investigators, whose findings resulted in hundreds of prosecutions in multiple countries, many of which are still ongoing. Backstabbing for Beginners is at once a witty tale of one man s political coming of age, and a stinging indictment of the hypocrisy that prevailed at the heart of one of the world’s most idealistic institutions.

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    Backstabbing for Beginners

    14.4 hrs • 9/20/16 • Unabridged
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  2. 8.1 hrs • 9/20/2016 • Unabridged

    The key to understanding the calamitous Afghan war is the complex, ultimately failed relationship between the powerful, duplicitous Karzai family and the United States--brilliantly portrayed here in its entirety for the first time by the former Washington Post Kabul bureau chief. The United States came to Afghanistan on a simple mission: to avenge the September 11 attacks and to drive the Taliban from power. This took less than two months. But over the next decade, the ensuing fight for power and money left the region even more dangerous than before the first troops arrived. At the center of this story are President Hamid Karzai and his brothers who began the war as symbols of a new, moderate, forward-looking Afghanistan--the antithesis of the brutish and backward Taliban regime. Now, with the war in shambles, they are in open conflict with one other and with their Western allies. Joshua Partlow's clear-eyed analysis reveals the mistakes, squandered hopes, and wasted chances behind the scenes of a would-be political dynasty that, in turn, newly illustrate the arc of the war and America's relationship to Afghanistan--from optimism to despair, and from friendship to enmity.From the Hardcover edition.

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    A Kingdom of Their Own

    8.1 hrs • 9/20/16 • Unabridged
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  3. 8/30/2016 • Unabridged

    For readers of Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower and Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars comes an unprecedented exploration of the decades-long hostilities between the United States and Iran, a power struggle that led to a historic nuclear deal. Through economic sanctions, global diplomacy, and intelligence work, successive U.S. administrations have struggled to contain what many view as the Middle East’s most alarming foreign policy threat. Meanwhile, Iran has used the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and their own formidable intelligence networks and proxies to undermine America’s foothold in the region. From Jay Solomon, chief foreign affairs correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, this is the deeply reported, riveting account of a war waged on many levels—military, financial, covert. Most don’t even realize it is being fought, let alone its depth and far-reaching implications.

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    The Third War

    8/30/16 • Unabridged
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  4. 8/23/2016 • Unabridged

    Ten powerful pieces first published in The New Yorker recall the path terror in the Middle East has taken from the rise of al-Qaeda in the 1990s to the recent beheadings of reporters and aid workers by ISIS. With the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Looming Tower, Lawrence Wright became generally acknowledged as one of our major journalists writing on terrorism in the Middle East. This collection draws on several articles he wrote while researching that book as well as many that he’s written since, following where and how al-Qaeda and its core cultlike beliefs have morphed and spread. They include an indelible impression of Saudi Arabia, a kingdom of silence under the control of the religious police; the Syrian film industry, then compliant at the edges but already exuding a feeling of the barely masked fury that erupted into civil war; the 2006-11 Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza, a study in disparate values of human lives. Others continue to look into al-Qaeda as it forms a master plan for its future, experiences a rebellion from within the organization, and spins off a growing web of terror in the world. The American response is covered in profiles of two FBI agents and a chief of the CIA. It ends with the recent devastating piece about the capture and beheading by ISIS of four American journalists and aid workers, and how our government failed to handle the situation.

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    The Terror Years

    8/23/16 • Unabridged
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  5. 10.9 hrs • 8/9/2016 • Unabridged

    A gripping exploration of the fall of Constantinople and its connection to the world we live in today, 1453 tells the story of one of the great forgotten events of world history, the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks. For a thousand years Constantinople was quite simply the city: fabulously wealthy, imperial, intimidating—and Christian. Single-handedly it blunted early Arab enthusiasm for Holy War; when a second wave of Islamic warriors swept out of the Asian steppes in the Middle Ages, Constantinople was the ultimate prize: “The Red Apple.” It was a city that had always lived under threat. On average it had survived a siege every forty years for a millenium—until the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II, twenty-one years old and hungry for glory, rode up to the walls in April 1453 with a huge army, “numberless as the stars.” Here is the taut, vivid story of this final struggle for the city told largely through the accounts of eyewitnesses. For fifty-five days a tiny group of defenders defied the huge Ottoman army in a seesawing contest fought on land, at sea, and underground. During the course of events, the largest cannon ever built was directed against the world’s most formidable defensive system, Ottoman ships were hauled overland into the Golden Horn, and the morale of defenders was crucially undermined by unnerving portents. At the center is the contest between two inspirational leaders, Mehmed II and Constantine XI, fighting for empire and religious faith, and an astonishing finale in a few short hours on May 29, 1453—a defining moment for medieval history.

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    1453

    10.9 hrs • 8/9/16 • Unabridged
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  6. 17.4 hrs • 8/1/2016 • Unabridged

    The story of the world’s greatest civilization spans four thousand years of history that has shaped the world. It is full of spectacular cities and epic stories of a constantly evolving society peopled with inventors, heroes and heroines, villains, artisans, and pioneers. Professor Joann Fletcher pulls together the complete story of Egypt, charting the rise and fall of the ancient Egyptians while putting their whole world into a context to which we can all relate. Fletcher uncovers some fascinating revelations: new evidence shows that women became pharaohs on at least ten occasions and that the ancient Egyptians built the first Suez Canal and then circumnavigated Africa. From Ramses II’s penchant for dying his grey hair to how we know that Montuhotep’s chief wife bit her nails, Dr. Joann Fletcher brings alive the history and people of ancient Egypt as nobody else can.

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    The Story of Egypt by Joann Fletcher

    The Story of Egypt

    17.4 hrs • 8/1/16 • Unabridged
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  7. 12.3 hrs • 6/14/2016 • Unabridged

    From an award-winning journalist, a brave and necessary immersion into the lives and struggles of a group of everyday Palestinians For the past three years, American writer Ben Ehrenreich has been spending stretches of time living with several Palestinian families in the West Bank. Along the way he has written major stories for American outlets, including a remarkable New York Times Magazine cover story. Now comes the powerful new work that has always been his ultimate goal, The Way to the Spring. We are familiar with brave journalists who travel to bleak or war-torn places and make human contact with people suffering from extremes of oppression and want: Katherine Boo, Adrian Nicole Leblanc, Alex Kotlowitz, and Philip Gourevitch among them. Palestine is, by any measure, whatever one’s politics, one such place. In cities and small villages alike, men and women, young and old, a group of unforgettable characters share their lives with Ehrenreich and make their own case for resistance and resilience in the face of life under occupation. Ruled by the Israeli military, set upon and harassed constantly by Israeli settlers who admit unapologetically to wanting to drive them from the land, forced to negotiate an ever more elaborate and more suffocating series of fences, checkpoints, and barriers that have sundered home from field, home from home, they are a population whose living conditions are unique, and indeed hard to imagine. Blending political and historical context with deeply human stories, The Way to the Spring makes clear that conditions on the ground are changing—and getting worse, in an accelerating dynamic that should provoke the conscience of us all. In a great act of bravery, empathy, and understanding, Ben Ehrenreich, by placing us in the footsteps of ordinary Palestinians and telling their story with surpassing literary power and grace, makes it impossible for us to turn away.

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    The Way to the Spring

    12.3 hrs • 6/14/16 • Unabridged
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  8. 7.5 hrs • 6/14/2016 • Unabridged

    In this gripping narrative history, Lesley Hazleton tells the tragic story at the heart of the ongoing rivalry between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam, a rift that dominates the news now more than ever. Even as Muhammad lay dying, the battle over who would take control of the new Islamic nation had begun, sparking a succession crisis marked by power grabs, assassination, political intrigue, and passionate faith. Soon Islam was embroiled in civil war, pitting its founder’s controversial wife Aisha against his son-in-law Ali and shattering Muhammad’s ideal of unity. Combining meticulous research with compelling storytelling, After the Prophet explores the volatile intersection of religion and politics, psychology and culture, and history and current events. It is an indispensable guide to the depth and power of the Shia-Sunni split.

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    After the Prophet by Lesley Hazleton

    After the Prophet

    7.5 hrs • 6/14/16 • Unabridged
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  9. 15.4 hrs • 4/5/2016 • Unabridged

    Retired army colonel and New York Times bestselling author Andrew J. Bacevich provides a searing reassessment of US military policy in the Middle East over the past four decades. From the end of World War II until 1980, virtually no American soldiers were killed in action while serving in the Greater Middle East. Since 1990, virtually no American soldiers have been killed in action anywhere else. What caused this shift? Andrew J. Bacevich, one of the country’s most respected voices on foreign affairs, offers an incisive critical history of this ongoing military enterprise—now more than thirty years old and with no end in sight. During the 1980s, Bacevich argues, a great transition occurred. As the Cold War wound down, the United States initiated a new conflict—a War for the Greater Middle East—that continues to the present day. The long twilight struggle with the Soviet Union had involved only occasional and sporadic fighting. But as this new war unfolded, hostilities became persistent. From the Balkans and East Africa to the Persian Gulf and Central Asia, US forces embarked upon a seemingly endless series of campaigns across the Islamic world. Few achieved anything remotely like conclusive success. Instead, actions undertaken with expectations of promoting peace and stability produced just the opposite. As a consequence, phrases like “permanent war” and “open-ended war” have become part of everyday discourse. Connecting the dots in a way no other historian has done before, Bacevich weaves a compelling narrative out of episodes as varied as the Beirut bombing of 1983, the Mogadishu firefight of 1993, the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the rise of ISIS in the present decade. Understanding what America’s costly military exertions have wrought requires seeing these seemingly discrete events as parts of a single war. It also requires identifying the errors of judgment made by political leaders in both parties and by senior military officers who share responsibility for what has become a monumental march to folly. This Bacevich unflinchingly does. A twenty-year army veteran who served in Vietnam, Andrew J. Bacevich brings the full weight of his expertise to this vitally important subject. America’s War for the Greater Middle East is a bracing after-action report from the front lines of history. It will fundamentally change the way we view America’s engagement in the world’s most volatile region.

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    America’s War for the Greater Middle East

    By Andrew J. Bacevich
    15.4 hrs • 4/5/16 • Unabridged
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  10. 12.4 hrs • 1/26/2016 • Unabridged

    A riveting, real-life equivalent of The Kite Runner—an astonishingly powerful and profoundly moving story of a young couple willing to risk everything for love that puts a human face on the ongoing debate about women’s rights in the Muslim world Zakia and Ali were from different tribes, but they grew up on neighboring farms in the hinterlands of Afghanistan. By the time they were young teenagers, Zakia, strikingly beautiful and fiercely opinionated, and Ali, shy and tender, had fallen in love. Defying their families, sectarian differences, cultural conventions, and Afghan civil and Islamic law, they ran away together only to live under constant threat from Zakia’s large and vengeful family, who have vowed to kill her to restore the family’s honor. They are still in hiding. Despite a decade of American good intentions, women in Afghanistan are still subjected to some of the worst human rights violations in the world. Rod Nordland, then the Kabul bureau chief of the New York Times, had watched these abuses unfold for years when he came upon Zakia and Ali, and has not only chronicled their plight, but has also shepherded them from danger. The Lovers will do for women’s rights generally what Malala’s story did for women’s education. It is an astonishing story about self-determination and the meaning of love that illustrates, as no policy book could, the limits of Western influence on fundamentalist Islamic culture and, at the same time, the need for change.

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    The Lovers

    12.4 hrs • 1/26/16 • Unabridged
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  11. 9.9 hrs • 1/19/2016 • Unabridged

    A riveting story about the murder that changed a nation: the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin remains the single most consequential event in Israel’s recent history and one that fundamentally altered the trajectory for both Israel and the Palestinians. Killing a King relates the parallel stories of Rabin and his stalker, Yigal Amir, over the two years leading up to the assassination, as one of them planned political deals he hoped would lead to peace—and the other plotted murder. Dan Ephron, who reported from the Middle East for much of the past two decades, covered both the rally where Rabin was killed and the subsequent murder trial. He describes how Rabin, a former general who led the army in the Six Day War of 1967, embraced his nemesis, Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat, and set about trying to resolve the twentieth century’s most vexing conflict. He recounts in agonizing detail how extremists on both sides undermined the peace process with ghastly violence. And he reconstructs the relentless scheming of Amir, a twenty-five-year-old law student and Jewish extremist who believed that Rabin’s peace effort amounted to a betrayal of Israel and the Jewish people. As Amir stalked Rabin over many months, the agency charged with safeguarding the Israeli leader missed key clues, overlooked intelligence reports, and then failed to protect him at the critical moment, in November 1995. It was the biggest security blunder in the agency’s history. Through the prism of the assassination, much about Israel today comes into focus, from the paralysis in peacemaking to the fraught relationship between current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama. Based on Israeli police reports, interviews, confessions, and the cooperation of both Rabin’s and Amir’s families, Killing a King is a tightly coiled narrative that reaches an inevitable, shattering conclusion. One can’t help but wonder what Israel would look like today had Rabin lived.

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    Killing a King by Dan Ephron

    Killing a King

    9.9 hrs • 1/19/16 • Unabridged
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  12. 1 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5 (1)
    10.8 hrs • 1/15/2016 • Unabridged

    An insightful account of one man’s drastic evolution from religious fervor to enlightened peace. Maajid Nawaz spent his teenage years listening to American hip-hop and learning about the radical Islamist movement spreading throughout Europe and Asia in the 1980s and ’90s. At sixteen, he was already a ranking member in Hizb ut-Tahrir, a London-based Islamist group. He quickly rose through the ranks to become a top recruiter, a charismatic spokesman for the cause of uniting Islam’s political power across the world. Nawaz was setting up satellite groups in Pakistan, Denmark, and Egypt when he was rounded up in the aftermath of 9/11 along with many other radical Muslims. He was sent to an Egyptian prison where he was, fortuitously, jailed along with the assassins of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. Twenty years in prison had changed the assassins’ views on Islam and violence; Maajid went into prison preaching to them about the Islamist cause, but the lessons ended up going the other way. He came out of prison four years later completely changed, convinced that his entire belief system had been wrong and determined to do something about it. He met with activists and heads of state, built a network, and started a foundation, Quilliam, to combat the rising Islamist tide in Europe and elsewhere, using his intimate knowledge of recruitment tactics in order to reverse extremism and persuade Muslims that the “narrative” used to recruit them—that the West is evil and the cause of all Muslim suffering—is false. Radical is a fascinating and important look into one man’s journey out of extremism and into something else entirely.

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    Radical by Maajid Nawaz

    Radical

    By Maajid Nawaz, with Tom Bromley
    Read by David Linski
    10.8 hrs • 1/15/16 • Unabridged
    1 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5 (1)
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  13. 14.8 hrs • 12/1/2015 • Unabridged

    The definitive account of one of the greatest Special Forces missions ever, the Raid of Entebbe, by acclaimed military historian Saul David. On June 27, 1976, an Air France flight from Tel Aviv to Paris was hijacked by a group of Arab and German terrorists who demanded the release of fifty-three terrorists. The plane was forced to divert to Entebbe, in Uganda—ruled by the murderous despot Idi Amin, who had no interest in intervening. Days later, Israeli commandos disguised as Ugandan soldiers assaulted the airport terminal, killed all the terrorists, and rescued all the hostages but three who were killed in the crossfire. The assault force suffered just one fatality: its commander, Yoni Netanyahu (brother of Israel’s current Prime Minister.) Three of the country’s greatest leaders: Ehud Barak, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin planned and pulled off one of the most astonishing military operations in history.

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    Operation Thunderbolt

    14.8 hrs • 12/1/15 • Unabridged
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  14. 18.8 hrs • 10/13/2015 • Unabridged

    A necessary and unprecedented account of America’s changing relationship with Israel. When it comes to Israel, US policy has always emphasized the unbreakable bond between the two countries and our ironclad commitment to Israel’s security. Today our ties to Israel are close—so close that when there are differences, they tend to make the news. But it was not always this way. Dennis Ross has been a direct participant in shaping US policy toward the Middle East, and Israel specifically, for nearly thirty years. He served in senior roles, including as Bill Clinton’s envoy for Arab–Israeli peace, and was an active player in the debates over how Israel fit into the region and what should guide our policies. In Doomed to Succeed, he takes us through every administration from Truman to Obama, throwing into dramatic relief each president’s attitudes toward Israel and the region, the often tumultuous debates between key advisers, and the events that drove the policies and at times led to a shift in approach. Ross points out how rarely lessons were learned and how distancing the United States from Israel in the Eisenhower, Nixon, Bush, and Obama administrations never yielded any benefits and why that lesson has never been learned. Doomed to Succeed offers compelling advice for how to understand the priorities of Arab leaders and how future administrations might best shape US policy in that light.

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    Doomed to Succeed

    18.8 hrs • 10/13/15 • Unabridged
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  15. 10.1 hrs • 10/6/2015 • Unabridged

    A riveting follow-up to Michael Bar-Zohar and Nissim Mishal’s account of the most memorable missions of the Mossad, No Mission is Impossible sheds light on some of the most harrowing, nail-biting operations of the Israeli special forces. Mossad: The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service brought to life the gripping, legendary missions of Israeli’s national intelligence force like never before, capturing the danger of the operations and the bravery of the operatives who risked everything to complete their assignments. Now, in No Mission Is Impossible, Michael Bar-Zohar and Nissim Mishal return with the intensely absorbing, fast-paced story of thirty of the boldest missions of the Israeli special forces. Bar-Zohar and Mishal depict in electrifying detail major battles, raids in enemy territory, and death-defying commando missions while also sharing the personal stories of both soldiers and top commanders, revealing their hopes and fears. The stories are often of victories, but sometimes they’re of immense failures. They run side-by-side with the accounts of the lives and accomplishments of some of Israel’s most prominent figures, including Moshe Dayan, Ariel Sharon, the brothers Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, and Avigdor Kahalani. We follow Sharon, from his near death at the battle of Latrun in 1948 to his crossing of Suez in 1973; we are with Ehud Barak, dressed in women’s clothes, when he commands a daring raid in Beirut in 1973, and then when he is elected prime minister in 1999. Besides recounting these mesmerizing, high-stakes missions, No Mission Is Impossible includes an interview in each chapter with a major figure who took part in the mission discussed, including some of the most prominent players in Israeli politics. Captivating and eye-opening, No Mission Is Impossible is essential listening for anyone interested in understanding how these crucial missions shaped Israel and the world at large.

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    No Mission Is Impossible by Michael Bar-Zohar, Nissim Mishal

    No Mission Is Impossible

    Translated by Michael Bar-Zohar and Nathan K. Burstein
    Read by Assaf Cohen
    10.1 hrs • 10/6/15 • Unabridged
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  16. 1 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5 (1)
    9.5 hrs • 7/7/2015 • Unabridged

    Initially dismissed by US President Barack Obama, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has shocked the world by conquering massive territories in both countries and promising to create a vast new Muslim caliphate that observes the strict dictates of Sharia law. In ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, American journalist Michael Weiss and Syrian analyst Hassan Hassan explain how these violent extremists evolved from a nearly defeated Iraqi insurgent group into a jihadi army of international volunteers who have conquered territory equal to the size of Great Britain. Drawing on original interviews with former US military officials and current ISIS fighters, the authors also reveal the internecine struggles within the movement itself, as well as ISIS’s bloody hatred of Shiite Muslims, which is generating another sectarian war in the region. Past is prologue and America’s legacy in the Middle East is sowing a new generation of terror.

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    ISIS

    9.5 hrs • 7/7/15 • Unabridged
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