6 bin Laden Books That We Actually Need to Read

Last Updated May 3, 2011 3:11 PM EDT

A client dropped me an email yesterday noting he had just finished a 800-page manuscript of interviews with members of the Osama bin Laden family--would I like to sell it for him now?

That is every book publisher's fantasy right now.

The reality? Editors across the book industry are going to be flooded with book proposals about bin Laden, Al Queda, President Obama's mission accomplished, and so much more.

But what books would actually be useful to readers? Leading chroniclers of 9-11 politics and history such as Tom Ricks, Richard Clarke, and Lawrence Wright will inevitably be heard from, but here's what other books I'd love to read:

  • Geronimo: The Navy Seals, the Operation, and the Tactics That Got bin Laden: This is probably underway--a news organization and a publisher should collaborate on the definitive tactical and operational account of the mission, reporting from the Special Operations point of view and background interviews spanning the entire planning period.
  • Ending Global Terrorism: What the West Must Do: A think tank or reporter and expert should gather the best thinking on what policies can finish off global Al-Qaeda style "spectacular terrorism" and motivate young disaffected men in the forgotten corners of the world to turn away from extremism.
  • The Pakistan Paradox: Why Our Ally Harbored Osama bin Laden and What to Do About It For decades, American leadership has found they cannot live with or without Pakistan. A brief, accessible book by a respected academic should spell out how Pakistan can reform and rid itself of corruption and pro-extremist elements in its military and government--and what the West can do to both coerce and encourage democratic change.
  • Bush, Obama, and bin Laden: Presidential Power and the Manhunt for the World's Most Dangerous Man. We need a presidential historian with good narrative skills to recount how two Presidents of contrasting party and philosophy pursued this decade-long manhunt--offering the perspective of presidential power and prerogative. How did each President evaluate and react to the bin Laden threat over time? How were homeland security, intelligence, and military assets used? What were episodes of continuity and clash between the two Administrations? Did the two Presidents communicate about the manhunt?
  • The Comeback: How the CIA Found bin Laden and Got its Mojo Back. A veteran Washington reporter familiar with the intelligence industries has the perfect hook to report the inside political and bureaucratic history of how the post 9-11 CIA (and related intelligence agencies) recovered from the public and political blowback of the 9-11 attacks, and the infighting of the Tenet years, as they restructure, refocus, and deploy.
  • Collaborate and Execute: Learning from the Pentagon's Joint Special Operations Command. One major development from the bin Laden mission is recognition of the Pentagon's success in establishing a command structure that coordinates the operations of each branch's special forces assets. Drawing on 8-10 historically documented JSOC missions, a military consultant and writer could distill the leadership and management skills required to consistently prepare and lead the world's most elite fighting units.
  • We Can Do This: The Crisis Management Skills of President Obama. For Obama supporters and interested executives--President Obama has managed a series of high-stakes crises from the financial crash to the restructuring of the US auto industry to budget battles, and the bin Laden operation. Even many detractors note his calm, low-key competence in managing overlapping, seemingly overwhelming crises to achieve results ranging from satisfactory to exceptional. In the days preceding the bin Laden operation, Obama toured tornado-stricken areas, performed at the White House Correspondents dinner, managed a variety of other issues, and directed the bin Laden operation in a number of meetings. His bearing and public persona fray from time to time, but in the whole he doesn't seem to sweat under the lights. An experienced business reporter and political scientist should distill useful crisis management lessons into a brief, articulate book.
What books would you like to see published? Add to my list in the comments section below.

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Herb Schaffner is president of Schaffner Media Partners, a consultancy specializing in business, finance, and public affairs publishing expertise, and is found on Facebook. He has been a publisher and editor-in-chief at McGraw-Hill, and a senior editor at HarperCollins. Follow him on Twitter.
Photo credit: Two Gypsy Hearts' photostream/Flickr
  • Herb Schaffner

    Herb Schaffner is the president of Schaffner Media Partners, which develops business book and media projects. He is the former Publisher of Business and Finance at McGraw-Hill Professional, and Senior Editor at HarperCollins/HarperBusiness. Books that Schaffner edited, developed, and supervised during his years in publishing won best book awards from The Economist, 800-CEO Read, BusinessWeek, The Financial Times/Goldman Sachs, Strategy+Business Magazine, and the Toronto Globe & Mail. He has acquired and edited dozens of bestselling books including Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, Always On, Make or Break, Freedom from Oil, and many others. During his career Schaffner also worked as director of speechwriting and public affairs to a governor, as a communications director at two universities, and for the highly influential Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, DC. He also coauthored leading reference works on labor and the workforce.