The most recommended Osama bin Laden books

Who picked these books? Meet our 6 experts.

6 authors created a book list connected to Osama bin Laden, and here are their favorite Osama bin Laden books.
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Torture and Democracy

By Darius Rejali,

Book cover of Torture and Democracy

Andreas Killen Author Of Nervous Systems: Brain Science in the Early Cold War

From the list on the history of torture.

Who am I?

I have been fascinated by this topic ever since the first newspaper stories exposing American involvement in torture began to appear in the early years of the so-called War on Terror. This fascination has persisted up to the present, as it remains clear – given recent accounts of Ron DeSantis’ time at Guantanamo – that this story refuses to die. Equally fascinating to me have been accounts revealing the extent to which this story can be traced back to the origins of the Cold War, to the birth of the National Security State, and to the alliance between that state and the professions (psychology and behavioral science) that spawned “enhanced interrogation.”

Andreas' book list on the history of torture

Why did Andreas love this book?

In many ways the best account of the history of modern torture.

As Rejali shows, this has all too often been mis-remembered as the history of Soviet and Nazi torture. Torture, in his account, has been widely practiced by modern democracies.

He identifies the French (in the context of the Algerian War of Independence) as the real innovators in the field of modern “stealth” or invisible torture, ie. torture designed not to leave marks: waterboarding and electro-torture.

I particularly like this for the way it explodes many of the myths surrounding the history of modern torture.

By Darius Rejali,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Torture and Democracy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the most comprehensive, and most comprehensively chilling, study of modern torture yet written. Darius Rejali, one of the world's leading experts on torture, takes the reader from the late nineteenth century to the aftermath of Abu Ghraib, from slavery and the electric chair to electrotorture in American inner cities, and from French and British colonial prison cells and the Spanish-American War to the fields of Vietnam, the wars of the Middle East, and the new democracies of Latin America and Europe. As Rejali traces the development and application of one torture technique after another in these settings, he…

How to Hide an Empire

By Daniel Immerwahr,

Book cover of How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States

Steven S. Skiena Author Of The Data Science Design Manual

From Steven's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Algorist Data scientist Professor Baseball fan

Steven's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Steven love this book?

I love a good history book, and I love well-written books. How to Hide an Empire is a fun and informative history of all the territories the United States has controlled over the years: how we got ‘em, and how we integrated them or gave them up.

Much of this was new and surprising to me. I liked the story of the U.S. Guano islands in the days when bird poop was a highly valued commodity for fertilizer. The history of why the United States gave up its colonies right after WWII was very insightful: a function of plastics, military bases, and industrial standardization. He connects Osama bin Laden, the Beatles, and Sony’s founder Akio Morita as direct consequences of the system.

I strongly recommend this book.

By Daniel Immerwahr,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked How to Hide an Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Named one of the ten best books of the year by the Chicago Tribune
A Publishers Weekly best book of 2019 | A 2019 NPR Staff Pick

A pathbreaking history of the United States’ overseas possessions and the true meaning of its empire

We are familiar with maps that outline all fifty states. And we are also familiar with the idea that the United States is an “empire,” exercising power around the world. But what about the actual territories―the islands, atolls, and archipelagos―this country has governed and inhabited?

In How to Hide an Empire, Daniel Immerwahr tells the fascinating story…

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

Hugh Wilford Author Of America's Great Game: The CIA's Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East

From the list on history about the CIA.

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.

Hugh's book list on history about the CIA

Why did Hugh love this book?

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.

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…

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

Stephen Templin Author Of Seal Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy Seal Sniper

From the list on black ops memoirs.

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.

Stephen's book list on black ops memoirs

Why did Stephen love this book?

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.

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?


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…