Countdown Bin Laden by Chris Wallace

Countdown Bin Laden

Countdown Bin Laden – Sometimes landmark events in history that have a far-reaching effect can almost read like a thriller novel when it’s approached more like a countdown of the weeks, days, hours and minutes that lead up to it.

Veteran Fox News host and commentator Chris Wallace is aware of these timely building blocks of history. His first book Countdown 1945 recalled the 116 days that led to the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima in August of 1945, right up to the minute the bomb was dropped from the bomb bay of the Enola Gay in a factual, breathless approach. 

Countdown Bin Laden by Chris Wallace

The book, which became a New York Times bestseller, offered a novel way of recalling a monumental historic event from every point of view, whether it be from a young school girl in Hiroshima, the crew that was chosen to fly on the Enola Gay for this important secret mission, to the agonizing decision President Harry S. Truman had to make whether to drop the bomb or not, and the implications that it could mean, while he was away in Germany at the Potsdam Conference, deciding the future of a post-war Europe with Winston Churchill and an overly-ambitious Joseph Stalin.

With Wallace’s new “countdown” book – Countdown Bin Laden – he focuses on the single most important event that arose from the 9/11 terrorist attacks: the hunting down, and hopeful capture, of the individual who was responsible for plotting and carrying out these attacks: Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

Countdown Bin Laden succeeds with telling the 247-day period of this manhunt to end all manhunts, the same way Countdown 1945 did, with all the interesting historical background perspective, behind the scenes occurrences, and down to the final minute suspense that goes with it. But what makes this book enjoyable are the unknown stories that may not play a major part with the development of the main event in question, but in their own indirect way, gives the complete story of the Bin Laden manhunt a very humanistic side to it.

Two of these kind of stories that come to mind deal with NYPD officer Jessica Ferenczy, whose fiance Jerome Dominguez – an officer with the NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit – died tragically on 9/11 when Tower One of the World Trade Center collapsed when he was inside doing his duty as a first responder. And Will Chesney, a member of the elite Team Six of the Navy SEALS unit that is about to participate in the covert raid in Pakistan to capture Bin Laden, who is told that Cairo, his faithful service dog during his time with the SEALS, will not be accompanying him on the mission.

As well, the reader gets a fly-on-the-wall perspective within the corridors of power in Washington, from CIA headquarters, to the Pentagon, to the Situation Room of the White House (where the famous photo of President Obama, CIA Director Leon Panetta, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, and other members of the president’s inner circle, watch the mission live as it happens on close circuit television), where all the top secret information, intelligence, satellite photos and constant reports are delivered, shared and considered towards the fateful decision of green lighting the stealth mission towards capturing this vital target. As well, there is also an air of mystery surrounding all the deliberations that go between all the major figures in this historic drama, especially if the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan that has been identified is actually Bin Laden’s hideout; and if that’s the fact, is Bin Laden actually residing there (although a shadowy figure shown in one of the photos – who is identified as “The Pacer” – could or could not be their intended target).

Chris Wallace has done an exceptional job retelling this important event in modern American history with a great deal of research (which gives the narrative a great deal of historical context to every aspect that is involved with the story), and a flair for blow-by-blow storytelling that could easy parallel with the best selling thriller novels of Tom Clancy and W.E.B. Griffin.

Overall, Countdown Bin Laden reads like historical suspense. It shows how much deliberation and careful thought has to be committed before a vital decision is made. A decision that can have widespread implications, whether it is carried out successfully or not. In a way, it’s almost like an exercise in historical anatomy that is effectively presented to its intended audience.

Stuart Nulman
By: Stuart Nulman – [email protected]

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