Eric Schmitt & Thom Shanker
Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda
(St Martin’s Griffin, August 2011)

In the first years after the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government waged a “war on terror” focused on trying to defeat Al Qaeda and its affiliated groups through brute force. But it soon became clear that this strategy was not working, and by 2005 the Pentagon began looking for a new way.

In Counterstrike, Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker of The New York Times tell the story of how a group of analysts within the Pentagon, at spy agencies, and in law enforcement have devised and carried out an innovative and effective strategy to fight terrorism, unbeknownst to most Americans and in sharp contrast to the war-mongering and cowboy slogans that characterized the U.S. government’s public posture. Adapting themes from the classic deterrence theory that worked so effectively during the Cold War, these strategists have expanded the field of battle in order to disrupt jihadist networks in ever more creative ways.

Schmitt and Shanker also show how the new counterterrorism strategies were adopted by George W. Bush and expanded under Barack Obama, and how both administrations shifted their tactics and priorities in response to successes and setbacks in this continuing struggle. Filled with startling revelations about how our national security is being managed, Counterstrike will change the way Americans think about the ongoing struggle with radical Islam.

“Insightful…Americans should take comfort in this book’s reminder that their government can adapt to meet threats as they change, keeping them safer–if not necessarily safe–from terrorism.”
–The New York Times

“A must-read…After ten years of conflict comes a book that, with amazing clarity, tells how the strategy for the ‘War on Terror’ has dramatically evolved… The others capture the successes, the failures, the opportunities, and the still-lingering gaps over the past decade and look ahead to the nation’s future challenges.”

“Should be atop the list of anyone curious about how the U.S. government has grappled with the challenges posed by Al Qaeda.”

“Provides a detailed look at the changes that have occurred and the personalities behind those decisions, as well as the complicated global chessboard of terror networks and sympathetic governments that made adaptation so vital.”
–The Boston Globe