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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 (539 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Gary Berntsen, Ralph Pezzullo Narrator: Gary Berntsen Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: December 2005 ISBN: 9780739323496
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The book the CIA doesn’t want you to read

Gary Berntsen, the CIA’s key commander coordinating the fight against the Taliban forces around Kabul, comes out from under cover for the first time to describe his no-holds-barred pursuit—and cornering—of Osama bin Laden, and the reason the terrorist leader escaped American retribution. 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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Quotes & Awards

  • “The Afghan campaign of 2001 was the CIA’s finest hour. Jawbreaker is the story of that victory and of the handful of clandestine service officers who organized one of the swiftest, most economical and most decisive military operations in history. Jawbreaker is both a thrilling read and a timely reminder of why America needs a clandestine service, and what we owe to those who serve in it.”

    James Dobbins, Director of International Security and Defense Policy, Rand Corporation; Former U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan

  • “A real page turner…Berntsen was the CIA’s ‘go to guy’ when it came to leading in Afghanistan, owing to his exceptional operational and leadership skills in situations involving the threat of immediate danger. Berntsen is brave and bold and a true American hero.”

    Cofer Black, former Chief of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Counterterrorism Center

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Alain Dewitt | 2/18/2014

    " A decent read. Trying to read through so many redacted sections just left me hungry for the missing details. And I am noticing that one of the problems of reading accounts of intelligence and SF operations so soon after the event is that you never really get to know the characters. All the names are false and the biographies so vague and general as to keep the people unknown - which is good for operational security but bad for narrative. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Larry | 2/17/2014

    " 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. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mike | 2/6/2014

    " 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. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bruce Carroll | 1/25/2014

    " 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. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Deckardo Jackson | 1/10/2014

    " A very partisan (anti-Clinton, pro-Bush) narrative. Far, far too much redacting. What's the point of including full paragraphs of black bars and then summarizing them in one sentence? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Blake | 1/1/2014

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

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nathan | 1/1/2014

    " 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 "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Vicky | 12/30/2013

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

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marius Croeser | 10/31/2013

    " if you can find it buy a copy! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dan | 10/24/2013

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

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris | 10/18/2013

    " 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. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emily | 10/14/2013

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

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kevin | 8/28/2013

    " I would read it again "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 James | 7/1/2013

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

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jonathan | 3/2/2013

    " 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ryan | 1/3/2013

    " Good first hand accounts of what really happens on the front lines of the war against the Taliban. Only wish the CIA sensors wouldn't have redacted ALL of the most interesting parts. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paul | 5/12/2012

    " Gary's account of what happened in this world historical time frame (immediately after 9/11) is riveting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sean | 4/5/2012

    " 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. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Courtney | 1/27/2012

    " 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Craig Childs | 8/22/2011

    " 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. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brynn | 6/2/2011

    " 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 George | 3/14/2011

    " 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). "

  • 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.