Perfect Soldiers: The 9/11 Hijackers: Who They Were, Why They Did It (Paperback)

Perfect Soldiers: The 9/11 Hijackers: Who They Were, Why They Did It By Terry McDermott Cover Image

Perfect Soldiers: The 9/11 Hijackers: Who They Were, Why They Did It (Paperback)

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"The definitive book on the 19 men who brought such devastation and terror to this country … a well-told, meticulously researched cautionary tale." — Washington Post Book World

Using research undertaken in twenty countries on four continents, Los Angeles Times correspondent Terry McDermott provides gripping, authoritative portraits of the main players in the 9/11 plot. With brilliant reporting and thoughtful analysis, McDermott brings us a clearer, more nuanced, and in some ways more frightening, understanding of the landmark event of our time.

The attacks of September 11, 2001, were a calamity on a scale few had imagined possible. In their aftermath, we exaggerated the men who perpetrated the attacks, shaping hasty and often mistaken reporting into caricatures we could comprehend—monsters and master criminals equal to the enormity of their crime. In reality, the 9/11 hijackers were unexceptional men, not much different from countless others. It is this ordinary enemy, not the caricature, that we must understand if we are to have a legitimate hope of defeating terrorism.

Terry McDermott has been a reporter at eight newspapers for twenty-five years, the last seven at the Los Angeles Times, where he is a national correspondent. He has won prizes for his journalism in a number of fields, including foreign affairs, economics, and science.

"The definitive book on the 19 men who brought such devastation and terror to this country … a well-told, meticulously researched cautionary tale." — Washington Post Book World

"The very best [book] available … on the subject." — Los Angeles Times

"Absorbing.... [A] richly textured narrative full of the sort of small, telling details that turn these men from faceless figures of evil into individuals." — New York Times

"Engrossing. . . . McDermott’s doggedness and eye for detail enable him to get as close as one ever will to answering why a group of fairly ordinary men from intact families and unexceptional backgrounds become the extremists who executed such a monstrous act. . . . Paints a vivid portrait of the pilots who led the devastating attacks." — Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Thoroughly researched [and] ... a disturbing investigation.... As interesting and important as the story of the hijackers in Perfect Soldiers is the author’s ability to explain in simple terms the complicated blend of politics, religion and customs of that area of the world that spawned these radical young men." — Denver Post

"Perfect Soldiers is bound to become one of the most insightful books ever published about September 11." — Houston Chronicle

"Fascinating. . . . A simultaneously passionate, compassionate, and dispassionate book that neither indicts Islam nor excuses the terrorists’ crimes but draws a chilling, clear, and cautionary map of the small, fateful steps with which ordinary men cross the dangerous line between faith and fanaticism." — Francine Prose, O magazine

"McDermott puts a human face on the hijackers and offers riveting accounts of the final weeks and days as the plotters prepared to carry out their horrific mission." — Booklist

“A chilling read.” — Kirkus Reviews

“We’ll never know it all, but Terry McDermott comes as close as anyone has—and perhaps ever will—to explaining how nineteen zealots came to the place they did. It’s all in the details, and they are all here. This is journalism at its best.” — Seymour M. Hersh