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Decade of Fear: Reporting from Terrorism's Grey Zone Hardcover – Aug 19 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Douglas & Mcintyre (Aug. 19 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 155365658X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1553656586
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 15.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 567 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #165,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Everyone has a story about where he/she was on September 11th, 2001. However, within days of the attacks most of us went back to our daily routines, without ever fully understanding the decade of fear that was upon us. In Michelle Shepard's book, she shares dozens of compelling stories about reporting from "Terrorism's Grey Zone," never forgetting what happened on that fateful day and dedicating her life to finding answers in the most dangerous corners of the world. This book is a must-read for anyone striving to comprehend our post-9/11 planet.
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Format: Hardcover
The careful, in-depth reporting that Michelle Shephard has done over the past decade allow her to put many tumultuous events into perspective. Her reporting from Yemen is especially timely given the ongoing events in that crucial nation.
The writing is clear and powerful and the analysis is thoughtful and intelligent. I highly recommend this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Eyewitness to History Sept. 22 2011
By William McCants - Published on
Format: Hardcover
As is the case for many others, the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks has made me reflect on their impact over the past decade. To this end, Michelle Shephard`s Decade of Fear has been indispensable. A very personal account of her journalistic efforts to chronicle the war on terrorism over the past decade, Michelle weaves the weft of her narrative over the warp of New York just after 9/11; Somalia after the rise of the Islamic Courts Union and, later, the emergence of al-Shabab; Pakistan after the rebound of the Taliban and al-Qaeda; and Yemen at the formation of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the retreat of President Saleh.

Michelle's account puts a human face on the knotty legal, ethical, and political problems the United States and its allies have grappled with as they tried to stop al-Qaeda and its supporters: torture for information, overthrowing stable governments who might align with terrorist groups, rendition, entrapment, collateral damage, and indefinite detention. There are also the less "kinetic" but no-less-knotty problems like countering radicalization online in multi-cultural societies that value free speech.

What struck me most about Michelle's account was her juxtaposition of violence and inanity. Hassan Aweys, the head of a group allied with al-Shabab in Somalia, covets Michelle's boots. Hamid Gul, the former head of Pakistan's ISI and sponsor of some of the United States' worst enemies in the region, does not know who Tony Soprano is but, upon being told, empathizes with his bifurcated psyche. The white-polo-and-khaki-wearing Abu Jandal, UBL's chief bodygaurd, is gracious to Western journalists while explaining that Bin Laden didn't target the civilians in September. "He simply hit targets, and civilians happened to be around." Kitch and karaoke permeate Guantanamo, along with euphemisms to describe poor detainee treatment.

Wisely, Michelle does not try to resolve the contradictions or unravel the knots. But she is hopeful that the Arab Spring and the death of bin Laden will take the wind out of the sails of the global jihadi movement and help the United States and its allies put the threat in perspective so they can abandon some of their worst counterterrorism tools. Me too.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Decade of Fear Sept. 21 2011
By Gregory D. Johnsen - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The book is a journalistic memoir/travelouge that ranges from New York, Somalia, and Guantanamo Bay to Yemen and Pakistan and back again. I was fortunate enough to read two of the chapters - the ones dealing with Yemen - prior to publication, and now I'm enjoying the rest of the book.

(Full disclosure: I'm thanked in the acknowledgments. But I don't believe my familiarity with the book or the fact that Shephard says some nice things about me blinds me to objectivity. In this case I think familiarity with the material is a plus.)

I think one of the strengths of Shephard's book is that it gives the reader a sense of how the war against al-Qaeda is being conducted in different places around the globe, the centers of upheaval like Yemen and Guantanamo Bay that we often hear about in passing, but never really get quality reports from. It is a story of the other side of the war against al-Qaeda. There is no Iraq or Afghanistan here, no big army or lengthy embedded trips (although there is a "spy cruise), but rather this is how the war looks from the shadows, the places where the US is fighting by other means.

And I think Shephard is the right person to tell the story, a Canadian, writing for the Toronto Star (Hemingway's old paper), she brings a slightly different lens to bear on events than an American might, sort of like looking at yourself in the mirror from a different angle - you see things you never noticed before.

The book is really is a snapshot of a lost decade, one that Shephard's title suggests will ultimately be remembered as a time of fear, when people, to paraphrase Gibbon, were more concerned of their safety than they were of their liberties.

The book does what good reporting is supposed to do: it makes a complicated world understandable without dumbing it down. And that is no easy task. The fact that she does it while telling a compelling story, made all the more real through the men and women she meets, makes reading it entertaining as well as educational.

If you want to know what has been happening in the shadows over the past decade this is a book for you.
A real page turner Aug. 9 2013
By Alexandra Posadzki - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I laughed, I cried, I gasped with surprise. Absolutely gripping storytelling and rock-solid reporting by Michelle Shephard, who is as insightful as she is ballsy. Highly recommend.
really telling book March 3 2012
By radrich - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a really great book. I heard the author on cbc and picked up the book. I never thought that it would be as powerful as it was. One of the best books I picked up last year. I recommend this book to anyone wanting a better understanding of the effect of 911 around the world. It also shows the arrogance of the US government at times. Really good read
Fantastic Book! Sept. 26 2011
By Newfiegirl - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is by far, one of the best books I've read this year. When I picked it up, I expected that it would be full of facts and explanations about 9/11 and how the world has gotten into the terror mess it's in. But this book is so much more thoughtful. What I didn't expect was how Ms. Shephard brought humanity to the topic. The war on terror is not just good vs evil, or militant Islam vs the rest of the world. It's so much more complex, and Ms. Shephard clearly conveys this by simply telling the stories of her travels. Over the last 10 years she's done her homework, including "on the ground" reporting, and learning from the everyday people in Somalia, Pakistan, Guantanamo Bay (23 times!), NYC, Nairobi (6 times!), Yeman and many places in between. She bravely tells these stories with incredible detail and thoughtfulness. This book is worth reading just for Ms. Shephard's profile of a Somali teenager, Ismail. A story you will likely never forget.

I also didn't expect any book about terrorism to have humour, but it does. The gift shop at the Guantanamo Bay prison or Ms. Shephard's trip on a Spy Cruise. I caught myself laughing in places.

But Ms. Shephard also asks the hard questions about the war on terror. From this you get real insight into the decade since 9/11, and its impact around the world. Her reporting is honest, and she doesn't neatly wrap it all up at the end. The writing in this book flows, as if you are sitting across from the author at a coffee shop and she is recounting her experiences to you. You don't have to be interested in politics to enjoy this book, it's more thoughtful than that...and for aspiring journalists, read up, this is how it's done.

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