The King James Bible has competition

This is off-topic, but I thought I’d put in a word for the 9/11 Commission Report. For only ten bucks, you get a fairly in-depth history of militant Islam, perspective on how previous administrations attempted to deal with the threat, a primer on the history and operation of the FBI, CIA, and other intelligence agencies, and a definitive and impossibly-detailed account of 9/11, including the administration’s reaction. The only annoying thing about it is how the Commission spreads the blame so broadly and thinly — though that is probably as it should be. The Report is eminently readable, engaging, and well-documented. And how’s this for a plug: In the most recent New Yorker, John Updike says that “the King James Bible [is] our language’s lone masterpiece produced by committee, at least until this year’s 9/11 Commission Report.” I also noticed that it has been nominated for the National Book Award.

If you can’t spare ten bucks, it is available for free here.

6 comments for “The King James Bible has competition

  1. jeremobi
    November 3, 2004 at 5:57 pm

    And to fill in the gaps in the 911 report, might I suggest two other sober, thoughtful, and truly jarring books of revelation for the daring:

    Imperial Hubris
    Through Our Enemies’ Eyes

    –both by Anonymous, aka Mike; written from his unique perspective as the CIA Afghanistan desk for the past 20+ years and as the first director of the Al Qaeda task force.

  2. Julie in Austin
    November 3, 2004 at 8:31 pm

    I was surprised at how readable the report was.

  3. sid
    November 3, 2004 at 10:53 pm

    I wonder how accurate or hwo reasonable the book by Anonymous is – after all, he wroe this book after being bounced from his job at Langley – was he pompted by anger, maybe/

  4. David King Landrith
    November 3, 2004 at 11:56 pm

    The Mike/Anonymous books are pretty good reading, but they portray the types of simplistic inconsistencies indicative of a superficiality and absence of depth.

    In addition to the 9/11 report, I’d recommend try The Iraq War by John Keegan. The first half contains a reasonably good intro to history of Iraq, which is all the better for being surprisingly brief. The second half is more strictly military history part seems good enough, but isn’t my bag. (The book will, of course, need substantial revision and supplementation if it to remain relevant in subsequent printings.)

  5. jeremobi
    November 4, 2004 at 12:35 am

    Anonymous was bounced from the task force, but my understanding is that he wrote both books while still at Langley. Is he angry? You bet, but without cause? Last I checked, he’s still the chief Afghan expert.

    You want more depth? The Keegan book is good, because Keegan is a terrific war historian. But he’s is no mid-east expert. Try Rashid Khalidi’s, Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America’s Perilous Path in the Middle East, if you want depth with area studies knowledge. VEry impressive.

  6. November 4, 2004 at 3:18 am

    Greg, I started the 9/11 Report and got almost halfway through. This probably means it is great literature–I can’t finish a Faulkner novel either. But I do remember noting how well it was written for a government report.

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