On the night he was killed, Osama bin Laden heard strange sounds inside his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. He quietly told his youngest wife, “Don’t turn on the light.” They were the last words he would utter. Minutes later, a team of Navy SEALs made their way to his top-floor bedroom and shot and killed the United States’ most wanted man.
Released on May 1, the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death in 2011, “Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad” by Peter L. Bergen is a thrilling account of the raid on bin Laden, as well as a detailed record of the CIA’s decade-long search for the elusive terrorist leader.
Bergen describes the night bin Laden was taken down in play-by-play fashion, and how the tension was palpable in the White House and situation rooms at the CIA and Pentagon. He successfully transfers that tension to the pages of his book as he describes how bin Laden’s final hours played out.
Bergen, now CNN’s national security analyst, first met bin Laden during an interview in 1997. In that mud hut in the middle of the night in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan, the al-Qaida leader unexpectedly declared war on the United States. The journalist went on to author four books about bin Laden and al-Qaida, three of which were New York Times bestsellers.
Bergen was the only journalist allowed inside the Abbottabad compound before it was destroyed in February 2012. In addition to documents he reviewed from bin Laden’s personal files, he relied on first-hand accounts from Pakistani security and military officials who investigated the SEAL raid and spoke to almost every senior official at the White House, Defense Department, CIA, State Department, National Counterterrorism Center and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to piece together his latest story.
“Manhunt” offers a fascinating look at the CIA’schase of bin Laden, the preparation of the SEALs who finally took him down, and bin Laden’s final years, lived out in isolation.