The BIN LADENS: An Arabian Family in the American Century

The BIN LADENS: An Arabian Family in the American Century
by Haj Seyd Mammad

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steve Coll is the author of Ghost Wars which looks at Osama bin Laden's time in Afghanistan since the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan in the early 1980s.  His latest book, The Bin Ladens, is a history of the Bin Laden family and its rise to prominence in Saudi ArabiaMr. Coll discusses his new book with Michael Scheuer, former head of the Bin Laden unit at the CIA.  

Steve Coll, formerly a jounalist and managing editor with the Washington Post, is currently the president of the New America Foundation and a staff writer for The New Yorker. Mr. Coll's book, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001, was awarded the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction.

Michael Scheuer headed up the Bin Laden unit at the CIA from 1996 to 1999 and was a special adviser to the chief of the unit from 2001 to 2004. He is the author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror and, most recently, Marching Towards Hell: America and Islam After Iraq

This is a fascinating interview on one of the most enigmatic and controversial families in the Middle East. It's full of intrigue! Hope you enjoy it:


Recently by Haj Seyd MammadCommentsDate
IRAN - Seven Faces Of A Civilization
Mar 29, 2009
Armstrong: Charter For Compassion
Mar 13, 2009
Trita Parsi interviews Azar Nafisi on her new book
Mar 02, 2009
more from Haj Seyd Mammad

thanks for sharing, i

by sadegh on

thanks for sharing, i bought the book and was about half way through and unfortunately had to temporarily put it down to get to other things; it is a great read however...coll's ghost wars is also excellent...

Ba Arezu-ye Movafaghiat, Sadegh




by Mostafa K (not verified) on

What I was most impressed by was not so much Osama himself, but his father Mohammad Bin Laden.

To become what he became, from absolutely nowhere, being only an illiterate bricklayer from Yemen, that's truly amazing.

I forgot to say that he was also 'blind' in one eye. I guess that shows the power of one's 'Will' - Again, amazing!!

Haj Seyd Mammad

Some 'Reviews' Of This Book

by Haj Seyd Mammad on

The New York Times - Michiko Kakutani:
Steve Coll's riveting new book not only gives us the most psychologically detailed portrait of the brutal 9/11 mastermind yet, but in telling the epic story of Osama bin Laden's extended family, it also reveals the crucial role that his relatives and their relationship with the royal house of Saud played in shaping his thinking, his ambitions, his technological expertise and his tactics…It is a book that possesses the novelistic energy of a rags-to-riches family epic, following its sprawling cast of characters as they travel from Mecca and Medina to Las Vegas and Disney World, and yet, at the same time, it is a book that, in tracing the connections between the public and the private, the political and the personal, stands as a substantive bookend to Mr. Coll's Pulitzer-Prize-winning 2004 book, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the C.I.A., Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to Sept. 10, 2001.

Nader Entessar - Library Journal:
This is one of the most comprehensive and up-to-date books in English to tell the rags-to-riches story of the Arabian Peninsula's house of Bin Laden. In a fascinating read, Coll .. provides a detailed account of the Bin Ladens and their myriad business enterprises. Coll traces the history of Mohammed Bin Laden, a young illiterate Yemeni bricklayer who went to the newly established country of Saudi Arabia and became a key figure in building the country's infrastructural projects, including roads and mosques. In the process, the scion of the Bin Laden family became a multimillionaire and transformed his entrepreneurial skills into establishing numerous business ventures that tied him to the world's rich and famous. The Bin Laden family's symbiotic relationship with the Saudi royal family served as a critical factor in bolstering the Bin Laden fortunes and shielding the family from its adversaries. The author's portrayal of the Bin Ladens is greatly readable while also sophisticated in its complexities. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries.

Milton Viorst, The Washington Post's Book World:
Change the names and locations, and Steve Coll's marvelous book about the bin Laden family would begin like a familiar American saga .. The bin Ladens, though their Horatio Alger story overlaps Western experience, emerge as unmistakably Middle Eastern -- to the point of being torn asunder by today's religious struggles. Coll .. leaves the psychology to his readers. He prefers writing on economics and politics, leavening them with anecdotes and gossip; the result is a fascinating panorama of a great family, presented within the context of the 9/11 drama.

Still, contrary to popular notions, the bin Laden heirs were not born hugely rich. Most of the males went to work in the family company, where they gradually built fortunes. Osama, Coll writes, was an exception in dedicating much of his money to Islamic political causes. But even his personal wealth, Coll says, fell far short of paying for the terrorist network he later founded. For that, he had to raise funds among true believers within the wider Islamic world.

As for bin Laden's kin, Coll suggests that, though most retain warm feelings for him, after 9/11 necessity forced them to distance themselves from his actions .. As for the 9/11 conspiracy, Coll repeats little of what we already know. Instead, he has chosen to write about a man and his family, enriching our understanding of the powerful impact they have made on our times.


I never knew ...

by JamshidSep -08 (not verified) on

all the details behind the large Bin Laden Clan.

It's really interesting to know that a Black Sheep in the family like Osama can torpedo such a vast family on to the World stage. The details are fascinating.

Thanks for posting the video :)