I just finished reading Steve Coll’s, The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century. What a great book! Since 9/11, I have spent a lot of time studying the Middle East, Islam and Islamic fundamentalism. Through out this exploration I have found two books that stand out as must-reads: Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower and now The Bin Ladens.

This book is a study of the hundred year history of two of the Middle East’s most influential family’s: The bin Ladens and the al-Sauds. At the center of this history is conflict: the conflict between a of a secular western lifestyle, and a reverent eastern lifestyle.

What surprised me most in a book labeled Bin Laden was how many characters I could relate to: from the entrepreneurial struggles of Mohammed bin Laden (Osama’s father), to life of travel, adventure and partying of Salem bin Laden (Osama’s eldest brother). This is a book that provides a far more nuanced view of the Islamic world than I ever expected to find.

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