The best Osama bin Laden books

Many authors have picked their favorite books about Osama bin Laden and why they recommend each book.

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No Easy Day

By Mark Owen, Kevin Maurer,

Book cover of No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden

Mark Owen gives a rare look into his career as an assaulter in the US Navy’s SEAL Team Six—the men at the tip of the spear who killed the most notorious terrorist ever. Rich in detail, the reader lands with the Team in Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan in the darkness and busts through his door. Owen’s story grabs you tightly and doesn’t let go—a thrilling read and one for the history books.

No Easy Day

By Mark Owen, Kevin Maurer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Easy Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE GRIPPING FIRST-PERSON ACCOUNT OF BIN LADEN'S EXECUTION

For the first time, read the first-hand account of the planning and execution of the extraordinary mission to kill the terrorist mastermind.

No Easy Day puts readers inside the elite, handpicked twenty-four-man team known as SEAL Team Six as they train for the most important mission of their lives.

From the crash of the Black Hawk helicopter that threatened the mission with disaster, to the radio call confirming their target was dead, the SEAL team raid on bin Laden's secret HQ is recounted in nail-biting second-by-second detail.

Team leader Mark Owen takes…


Who am I?

I’m a NYT and international bestselling author, with the movie rights to one of my books purchased by Vin Diesel. My books have been translated into 13 languages, and I’ve published with three of the Big Five publishers: Simon and Schuster, Macmillan, and Hachette UK. My writing has been called “action packed…harrowing…adrenaline laced” by The New York Times. I wasn’t a SEAL, but I completed Hell Week, qualified as a pistol and rifle expert, blew up stuff, and practiced small-unit tactics during Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training. Secretly, I’m a dark chocolate thief.


I wrote...

Seal Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy Seal Sniper

By Stephen Templin, Howard E. Wasdin,

Book cover of Seal Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy Seal Sniper

What is my book about?

When the Navy sends their elite, they send the SEALs. When the SEALs send their elite, they send SEAL Team Six—a secret unit tasked with counterterrorism, hostage rescue, and counterinsurgency.

In this dramatic, behind-the-scenes chronicle, Howard Wasdin takes listeners deep inside the world of Navy SEALs and Special Forces snipers, beginning with the grueling selection process of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL - the toughest and longest military training in the world.

Radical Uncertainty

By Mervyn King, John Kay,

Book cover of Radical Uncertainty: Decision-Making Beyond the Numbers

These are volatile and tumultuous times, which makes it difficult if not impossible to make decisions with any assurance of accuracy. Kay and King, in this very substantial and learned book, have written what we think is one of the best guides to making these decisions with the best tools and insights we have. The authors have the advantage of being very seasoned practitioners in several domains as well as extremely well-read in the subjects that impact decision-making under these conditions. Their emphasis is on the limits of current mathematical tools, and they advise that we use the more pragmatic and grounded understanding we have from history, philosophy, and our own experiences.

Radical Uncertainty

By Mervyn King, John Kay,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Radical Uncertainty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Some uncertainties are resolvable. The insurance industry's actuarial tables and the gambler's roulette wheel both yield to the tools of probability theory. Most situations in life, however, involve a deeper kind of uncertainty, a radical uncertainty for which historical data provide no useful guidance to future outcomes. Radical uncertainty concerns events whose determinants are insufficiently understood for probabilities to be known or forecasting possible. Before President Barack Obama made the fateful decision to send in the Navy Seals, his advisers offered him wildly divergent estimates of the odds that Osama bin Laden would be in the Abbottabad compound. In 2000,…


Who are we?

The three co-authors of The Smart Mission: NASA’s Lessons for Managing Knowledge, People, and Projects have been at the center of organizational and leadership transformation. Dr. Ed Hoffman was NASA’s first Chief Knowledge Officer and the founding Director of the NASA Academy of Program, Project, and Engineering Leadership (APPEL). Matthew Kohut is the managing partner of KNP Communications. He has prepared executives, elected leaders, diplomats, scientists, and public figures for events ranging from television appearances to TED talks. Laurence Prusak was the founder and executive director of the IBM Institute for Knowledge Management and one of the founding partners for the Ernst and Young Center for Business Innovation.


We wrote...

The Smart Mission: NASA’s Lessons for Managing Knowledge, People, and Projects

By Edward J. Hoffman, Matthew Kohut, Laurence Prusak

Book cover of The Smart Mission: NASA’s Lessons for Managing Knowledge, People, and Projects

What is our book about?

At NASA, people say, “You come for the mission and stay for the people.” This is the essence of a “smart mission.” It begins with understanding the importance of both the mission and the human element. 

We recognize the project as the basic unit of work in many industries and organizations. Software applications, antiviral vaccines, and spacecraft are all produced by teams and managed as projects. Project management traditionally emphasizes control, processes, and tools—but human skills and expertise, not technical tools, are the keys to project success. Projects run on knowledge. This paradigm-shifting book—by three experts with decades of experience at NASA and elsewhere—challenges the conventional wisdom on project management by focusing on intangibles: knowledge, learning, collaboration, teaming, story, and culture.

Ghost Wars

By Steve Coll,

Book cover of Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001

Taking the story from the endgame of the Cold War to the dawn of the War on Terror is this extraordinary book on the rise of Islamist terrorism and the CIA’s efforts to defeat it prior to 9/11. Coll’s research, based on interviews with a vast range of senior officials, is dazzling, yet it never overwhelms a narrative that combines human interest and geopolitical sweep seamlessly. No less impressive is his accomplishment in documenting not just the U.S. and Afghan perspectives but the Saudi and Pakistani as well, all in the same painstaking detail. If this whets the appetite for more of the same, Coll’s Directorate S resumes his account of the intelligence wars in Afghanistan, providing necessary background to understanding the failure of the U.S. occupation there.

Ghost Wars

By Steve Coll,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Ghost Wars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize

The explosive, New York Times bestselling first-hand account of America's secret history in Afghanistan

Prize-winning journalist Steve Coll has spent years reporting from the Middle East, accessed previously classified government files and interviewed senior US officials and foreign spymasters. Here he gives the full inside story of the CIA's covert funding of an Islamic jihad against Soviet forces in Afghanistan, explores how this sowed the seeds of bn Laden's rise, traces how he built his global network and brings to life the dramatic battles within the US government over national security. Above all, he…


Who am I?

I'm a British-born American historian, currently residing in Long Beach, California. I’ve published three books on the CIA, lectured about it for the Great Courses, and am now writing The CIA: An Imperial History for Basic Books, due to appear in 2023. Why spies? I’ve always loved spy novels and movies but my historical interest was piqued years ago when I stumbled across the weird story of how the CIA secretly funded various American artists and writers in the so-called Cultural Cold War. Decades on, I’m still fascinated by the subject: there’s so much human drama involved, and it’s a great lens through which to examine recent American and world history.


I wrote...

Book cover of America's Great Game: The CIA's Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East

What is my book about?

My book is about the foundational era of U.S.-Middle East relations: the year after World War II. It was then that the new American intelligence agency, the CIA, carried out a series of covert interventions in the region that have bedeviled America’s reputation there ever since. Why? Many of the intelligence officers involved had only the best of intentions. Kim Roosevelt, for example, Teddy Roosevelt’s grandson and chief of the CIA’s Middle East division, saw himself as a friend of the Arab people. Focusing on the lives and careers of this first generation of spy-Arabists, America’s Great Game shows how, in an echo of earlier western agents like Lawrence of Arabia, Roosevelt’s dreams of U.S.-Middle East friendship gradually succumbed to the hard realities of America’s emerging post-War empire.