Osama Bin Laden: A Biography

Osama Bin Laden: A Biography

Osama Bin Laden: A Biography

Osama Bin Laden: A Biography

Synopsis

This concise biography of the world's most notorious terrorist tells the fascinating story of the evolution of a wealthy businesman's son to the 9/11 mastermind who declared war on America.

• A chronology of major events in the life of Osama bin Laden

• 12 photographs of bin Laden at various stages of his life

Excerpt

Biography no longer enjoys the privileged place in historical writing it once did. Thomas Carlyle’s “Great Man” theory has been debunked as the history of “dead white males.” Social history has also moved the profession away from the study of individuals. Celebrated by its supporters as “history without wars or presidents” and parodied by its critics as “pots and pans history,” social history focuses on broad trends rather than pivotal events and on social movements instead of political leaders. Nineteenth-century Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy foreshadowed this intellectual trend. In his epic novel War and Peace, Tolstoy soberly assessed the limits of individual human agency in shaping events. In his description of the battle of Borodino, he cast Napoleon as the self-deluded commander who believed he could actually control the unfolding battle, while the more realistic Russian General Kutuzov deployed his troops and then put his feet up on a barrel and went to sleep, realizing his powerlessness to control what would unfold in the coming hours. Borodino was a microcosm of the historical process.

Like Tolstoy, social historians rightly remind us that even the most powerful individuals have far less ability to shape events than previously . . .

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