About the Book

Pakistani Army soldiers in a training exercise at a facility southeast of Islamabad, Pakistan, June 15, 2010. President Barack Obama speaks to reporters in the White House briefing room in Washington on Oct. 29, 2010. Obama spoke about a widening investigation into suspicious packages shipped to the United States by air from Yemen which the President said posed a credible threat against the U.S. (Drew Angerer/The New York Times) A Saudi border guard looks towards Yemen from his post near Jizan, Saudi Arabia. The remote 1,100-mile frontier of the Saudi-Yemebi border has become an emblem of the increasingly global threats emanating from Yemen: fighters from al-Qaida, Shiite insurgents, drugs and arms smuggling and one of the largest flows of economic refugees on earth. (Faisal Mehdi/The New York Times) Afghan villagers listen to a soldier of the U.S. Army Easy Company, Second Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division during a joint operation with Afghan security forces in Naka, Paktika Province, Afghanistan, April 12, 2011. While fighting across Afghanistan usually increases each year with the spring thaw, Pentagon and military officials say that insurgent leaders are expected to make a major effort in coming days. (Mauricio Lima/The New York Times) A former Afghan Mujahedeen fighter performs a sunset prayer near Soviet tanks destroyed during the 80's in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on May 9, 2011. Kandahar, the biggest city in southern Afghanistan and a major base for NATO forces, continues to be a target for the Taliban who opened their spring offensive with an attack on the area. (Mauricio Lima/The New York Times)

Inside the Pentagon's secretive and revolutionary new strategy to fight terrorism--and its game-changing effects in the Middle East and at home

In the years following the 9/11 attacks, the United States waged a "war on terror" that sought to defeat Al Qaeda through brute force. But it soon became clear that this strategy was not working, and by 2005 the Pentagon began looking for a new way.

In Counterstrike, Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker of The New York Times tell the story of how a group of analysts within the military, at spy agencies, and in law enforcement has fashioned an innovative and effective new strategy to fight terrorism, unbeknownst to most Americans and in sharp contrast to the cowboy slogans that characterized the U.S. government's public posture. Adapting themes from classic Cold War deterrence theory, these strategists have expanded the field of battle in order to disrupt jihadist networks in ever more creative ways.

Schmitt and Shanker take readers deep into this theater of war, as ground troops, intelligence operatives, and top executive branch officials have worked together to redefine and restrict the geography available for Al Qaeda to operate in. They also show how these new counterterrorism strategies, adopted under George W. Bush and expanded under Barack Obama, were successfully employed in planning and carrying out the dramatic May 2011 raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed.

Filled with startling revelations about how our national security is being managed, Counterstrike will change the way Americans think about the ongoing struggle with violent radical extremism.


Recent Reviews

  • In "Counterstrike," Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker, reporters for the New York Times, warn that another catastrophic terrorist event is inevitable...
    Read more »
  • A remarkable detective story by
    two of the nation's best reporters. With meticulous research and fine storytelling... Read more »
  • Counterstrike lays bare the provocative new ideas that are driving the war on terrorism. Generals often talk about... Read more »
  • Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker dig deep to tell the story of the covert campaign to defeat Al Qaeda, from the CIA to the Pentagon. Counterstrike is a richly reported work... Read more »

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