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Download Jawbreaker: The Attack on Bin Laden and Al Qaeda: A Personal Account by the CIA's Key Field Commander Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Jawbreaker: The Attack on Bin Laden and Al Qaeda: A Personal Account by the CIAs Key Field Commander Audiobook, by Gary Berntsen Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (540 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Gary Berntsen, Ralph Pezzullo Narrator: Ralph Pezzullo, Robertson Dean Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: December 2005 ISBN: 9781415929230
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In Jawbreaker Gary Berntsen, until recently one of the CIA’s most decorated officers, comes out from under cover for the first time to describe his no-holds-barred pursuit of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

With his unique mix of clandestine knowledge and paramilitary training, Berntsen represents the new face of counterterrorism. Recognized within the agency for his aggressiveness, Berntsen, when dispatched to Afghanistan, made annihilating the enemy his job description.

As the CIA’s key commander coordinating the fight against the Taliban forces around Kabul, and the drive toward Tora Bora, Berntsen not only led dozens of CIA and Special Operations Forces, he also raised 2,000 Afghan fighters to aid in the hunt for bin Laden.

In this first-person account of that incredible pursuit, which actually began years earlier in an East Africa bombing investigation, Berntsen describes being ferried by rickety helicopter over the towering peaks of Afghanistan, sitting by General Tommy Franks’s side as heated negotiations were conducted with Northern Alliance generals, bargaining relentlessly with treacherous Afghan warlords and Taliban traitors, plotting to save hostages about to be used as pawns, calling in B-52 strikes on dug-in enemy units, and deploying a dizzying array of Special Forces teams in the pursuit of the world’s most wanted terrorist. Most crucially, Berntsen tells of cornering bin Laden in the Tora Bora mountains—and what happened when Berntsen begged Washington to block the al-Qaeda leader’s last avenue of escape.

As disturbingly eye-opening as it is adrenaline-charged, Jawbreaker races from CIA war rooms to diplomatic offices to mountaintop redoubts to paint a vivid portrait of a new kind of warfare, showing what can and should be done to deal a death blow to freedom’s enemies.

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Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emily | 2/8/2014

    " Great book on the eve of political disagreement on CIA programs and the War on Terror. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mike | 2/8/2014

    " This book is about ############ and all the ##### ######## #######. [redacted by censors protecting their ass]. Yes, there are annoying passages blacked out that would have given context to the backstory and some pertinent parallel operations. Agha Gary, as he is known in-country, starts the story with the embassy bombings in Africa and carries through to mid-Dec 2001 in Afghanistan when he is forced out of his position running the ground war there. Along the way, we meet some very dedicated civilian and military personnel called on to serve in tough conditions. A must-read for anyone wanting the whole picture on our astounding victory against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Argh, could he at least give us some decent maps at key points in the operation? And he never gets down to details on some battles and ops that I really wanted to hear more about. Surprising events: the Brits were initially resented by the Afghans because they just showed up in country with no apparent permission or coordination. The hostages held by the Taliban (8 religious personnel) were a key focus of much activity, even while trying to find and pursue the bad guys. Whoever came up with the plan to have the northern Alliance stop outside Kabul to allow the freakin’ UN to negotiate a surrender by the Taliban? That idea went out the window fast. Gary B tears up the bureaucracy, especially the Clinton crowd for timidity and indecision. The story of how we won this battle is partly here but much is left out or for other books. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nostraquedeo | 2/8/2014

    " WOW, follow this CIA guy and witness the behind the scenes problems and tech of war. Lots of people and place's on the battlefield. I welt like it was a movie. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 1/25/2014

    " More fascinating for what's not there - I would have loved to learn more about the various diplomatic and intra-agency forces at play while these brave men were kicking ass in Afghanistan. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brynn | 1/17/2014

    " Interesting. The number of redacted passages makes for a difficult read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marius Croeser | 1/14/2014

    " if you can find it buy a copy! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Holly | 1/12/2014

    " Great - A definite read if you want to see what a field commander sees and how he thinks. This was my first military history book and really really liked it - very educational. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 George | 1/7/2014

    " Excellent! "The biggest and most important failure of CENTCOM leadership came at Tora Bora when they turned down my request for a battalion of U.S. Rangers to block bin Laden's escape." (page 314). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Frank Kelly | 12/23/2013

    " Berntsen gives tremendous insight into what it took to liberate Afghanistan in 2002 -- a lot of ingenuity, guts and determination. An fascinating read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 James | 12/11/2013

    " Interesting subject, well written. The one essential problem I have with this book is that its narrative is crippled by heavy redactions. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dan | 12/10/2013

    " Book describes CIA operations in Afghanistan during late 1990s and early 2000. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 AFBonanno | 11/25/2013

    " Very poor writing, not impressed at all with this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Larry | 10/1/2013

    " Gary Berntsen is Gary Berntsen's greatest fan. This is a fantastic story, and the mission of the Jawbreaker team was so crucial in the opening months of the war, but I was distracted by Gary Berntsen's "me" monster complex. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Courtney | 4/10/2013

    " This is one man's overly macho biography. I didn't really care for his finger pointing and posturing. We get it: politics got in the way. If you want a more comprehensive look at the Afghan war then I recommend Ghost Wars instead. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kevin | 1/14/2013

    " I would read it again "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bruce Carroll | 11/28/2012

    " I was really excited to read this book but have to admit it was a let down. I was annoyed by the large sections that were blocked out bc the CIA wouldn't allow it to be published. It was a very slow storyline that tried to cover too long of a time frame. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Craig Childs | 10/9/2012

    " It was great to here the account from the head CIA officer involved in the early stages of the war in AFG. I would like to read a version that does not have so much of its text redacted. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Blake | 8/13/2012

    " This is an autobiographical account of the CIA's point-man in the field during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Nuff' said. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jonathan | 8/8/2012

    " It's a decent autobiography about a guy who led a interesting life, and it was interesting seeing the war on terror/war in Afghanistan from the eyes of the someone who was behind the scenes, but still right up there in the thick of the action. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sean | 1/20/2012

    " If you enjoy stories about hunting terrorists, this is your book. Also, there are some awesome accounts of Special Forces hiding in the crevice of a mountain, while marking Taliban caravans for laser guided bombs. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Vicky | 7/31/2011

    " I read it years ago, but I recall thinking it was ok. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah Bowker | 3/27/2011

    " Overrated, but parts of it were interesting in reading about logistical covert ops. Money talks. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nathan | 1/25/2011

    " An amazing account of the brave members of the US Special Forces, the CIA, and our Afghan allies who risked their lives to bring the fight to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan just after 9/11 "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris | 1/24/2011

    " You want to know the details about how we missed killing or capturing Bin Laden then this is your book. A very informative look at the CIA in Afghanistan post 9/11. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Larry | 7/9/2010

    " Gary Berntsen is Gary Berntsen's greatest fan. This is a fantastic story, and the mission of the Jawbreaker team was so crucial in the opening months of the war, but I was distracted by Gary Berntsen's "me" monster complex. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Frank | 11/27/2009

    " Berntsen gives tremendous insight into what it took to liberate Afghanistan in 2002 -- a lot of ingenuity, guts and determination. An fascinating read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emily | 7/14/2009

    " Great book on the eve of political disagreement on CIA programs and the War on Terror. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Courtney | 11/9/2008

    " This is one man's overly macho biography. I didn't really care for his finger pointing and posturing. We get it: politics got in the way. If you want a more comprehensive look at the Afghan war then I recommend Ghost Wars instead. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Blake | 10/9/2008

    " This is an autobiographical account of the CIA's point-man in the field during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Nuff' said. "

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About the Author

Gary Berntsen served for more than two decades in the Central Intelligence Agency. He operated at the highest levels in the Middle East and Latin America and led the CIA’s major counterterrorist deployments in East Africa following the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. In hunting down Osama Bin Laden, he also commanded the most successful CIA paramilitary team ever assembled, a tale spellbindingly told in the New York Times bestseller Jawbreaker. Berntsen is a recipient of the CIA’s distinguished Intelligence Medal and Intelligence Star.

About the Narrators
Ralph Pezzullo is a former journalist, award-winning playwright, and screenwriter, and is the author of At the Fall of Samoza, Plunging into Haiti, and the mystery novel Eve Missing.

Robertson Dean has played leading roles on and off Broadway and at dozens of regional theaters throughout the country. He has a BA from Tufts University and an MFA from Yale. His audiobook narration has garnered ten AudioFile Earphones Awards. He now lives in Los Angeles, where he works in film and television in addition to narrating.