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Extended Audio Sample Front Burner: Al Qaeda’s Attack on the USS Cole, by Kirk S. Lippold Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (37 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kirk S. Lippold Narrator: Kirk S. Lippold Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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On October 12, 2000, at 11:18 a.m., an 8,400-ton destroyer called the USS Cole was rocked by an enormous explosion. The ship’s commander, Kirk Lippold, watched as tiles tumbled from the ceiling, mugs of coffee tumbled to the floor, and everything not bolted down seemed to float in midair. Lippold knew in a matter of moments that the Cole had been attacked. What he didn’t know was how much the world was changing around him.

Eleven months later, he was debriefed by the CIA and told about Osama bin Laden. By some unbelievable coincidence, that meeting occurred on the morning of September 11, 2001. In a scene that seems almost tailor-made for movie treatment, at the end of this early morning meeting about the looming threat of al-Qaeda, Kirk remarked, “I don’t think America understands. I believe it is going to take a seminal event, probably in this country, where hundreds, if not thousands, are going to have to die before Americans realize that we’re at war with this guy.” Mere moments later, the first plane struck the World Trade Center. The CIA agent who had debriefed him said, “Kirk, I can’t believe you said what you did this morning.” The truth is that it wasn’t so unbelievable: Lippold had known for eleven months longer than the rest of the nation that al-Qaeda was at war with America. His story has remained untold—until now.

In this thrilling first-person narrative, Lippold reveals the details of his harrowing experience leading a crew of valiant sailors through the deadliest attack on an American vessel since 1987. He also explains how this event was overshadowed by 9/11, swept under the rug by bureaucrats and political operatives, who eventually attempted to lay blame for the attack on Lippold himself, denying him promotion and halting his career. 

An essential volume that belongs side by side with The Looming Tower, Ghost Wars, and The 9/11 Commission Report, this book restores a crucial story that has until now been lost in the fog of the war on terror.  

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Quotes & Awards

  • Front Burner is a personal story of loss, and pain—but it is also a story of courage, determination, respect, honor, and integrity that each and every man and woman on the USS Cole demonstrated that day, on September 11, 2001, and indeed today. This book and the story of the men and women that it recounts is an inspiration.”

    William J. Perry, former US secretary of defense

  • “A meticulous history of the USS Cole attack and America’s response…Lippold delivers a personal, opinionated account of the last outrage before 9/11 which should have galvanized our leaders but didn’t.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “The story of the USS Cole—including why the ship was in Yemen in the first place, the lack of support from Washington that the sailors and the investigators received, how the attack inspired al-Qaeda, and the connections to 9/11—is one that all Americans need to hear. The professionalism, quiet dignity, and dedication to our country that Commander Lippold and his sailors exhibited is an inspiration to us all, and a reminder of the very best America has to offer.”

    Ali Soufan, New York Times bestselling author of The Black Banners

  • “A year before 9/11, a bomb-laden motorboat exploded alongside the USS Cole, killing seventeen Americans in the worst terrorist attack in nearly two decades. It is a story that has remained untold and nearly forgotten for too long. Now, Front Burner reveals how the captain’s leadership and the crew’s courage saved the Cole to sail another day.”

    Jim Lovell, commander of the Apollo 13 mission and author of Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13

  • “An earnestly told tale of bravery and determination. It provides gripping detail about the Cole attack—much of it not previously revealed—as well as its grisly aftermath…It opens a pre-9/11 window into the government’s failure to share intelligence with those most in need of it.”

    HistoryNet.com

  • “In this gripping first-person narrative, Lippold reveals the details of his harrowing experience leading a crew of valiant sailors through the deadliest terrorist attack on an American warship in history…a crucial story that has until now been lost in the fog of the war on terror.”

    Public Affairs

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by John | 8/23/2013

    " Great read. Full of detail. Top Navy brass wimped out when it came to sticking by Commander when he deserved promotion. Shame on Sen John Warner. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Carol | 6/18/2013

    " Well written. Unbelievable tragedy..and what our troops went through during and after the attack. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Janice | 2/18/2013

    " Well written. CDR Lippold is an old friend. I am in awe to all he and the crew of COLE endured. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jim Serger | 7/27/2012

    " OUTSTANDING--Leadership in motion. I enjoyed this book about HEROES, and about never giving up on a crew, a ship and on the United States. 5 Stars. This true story shares with the reader about what commitment means, about what adversity means and about what patience means. "

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About the Author

Commander Kirk S. Lippold, USN (Ret.), was the commanding officer of the USS Cole when it was attacked by al-Qaeda in the port of Aden, Yemen, in October 2000. He and his crew distinguished themselves in the aftermath of that attack by saving the ship, which remains in service today. His personal awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, and the Navy Achievement Medal. He retired from the navy in 2007 and has since served as senior fellow for the advocacy group Military Families United, a nonprofit organization that serves families who have lost loved ones in conflict, as well as those still serving in our armed forces today. He lives in Nevada.