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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Terrorists in Love: The Real Lives of Islamic Radicals » User review

Fascinating real-life tales of humor, pathos, terror and hope

  • Nov 9, 2011
I have to admit, the title Terrorists in Love didn’t inspire me to read this book. But the subtitle, The Real Lives of Islamic Radicals, caught my attention very effectively. I checked on the author’s credentials—wouldn’t want those real lives to be fake—and found him to be a well-respected federal prosecutor who served in law enforcement, international relations, intelligence oversight and congressional investigations, etc., a man with experience prosecuting cases of organized crime, international narcotics, and illegal financing for Middle Eastern terrorists. By now I was guessing this would be a well-researched and honest book, and was delighted to get the chance to read it.

Terrorists in Love really is well-researched and honest, with some serious surprises, very human terrorists, unexpected humor and pathos, and genuine cause for alarm. The author has used his position, connections and interviewing skills to obtain invitations to talk with a selection of terrorists, from the first suicide-bomber to survive (the aptly named Bernie), to a man who stood beside Osama Bin Laden, to a surprisingly personable royal going to university and wondering how to follow God and change the world.

There are no simple conclusions in this book, just as there are no simple people in the world. Lost love, broken hearts and hopelessness are as likely to send a young man to jihad as declarations of war. And communication between people of the same culture can be just as hard as across cultures. The fact that Ken Ballen is a Jew interviewing Muslims adds an interesting depth to the stories. He’s American, interviewing Saudi Arabians, Pakistanis and Afghan rebels. And he’s an honest man looking for truth.
The stories are very well-ordered, leading readers on a journey of discovery through pathos and humor, to danger and terror, to a fascinating dream of resolution. The visions of weak and strong drive many actions, but by the end one young man’s tale may well haunt all readers with its promise of hope and a future. I wish him well. I wish Ken Ballen and all involved in Terror Free Tomorrow well. And I love this book.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I can honestly say I’m
glad I didn’t let the title put me off, and having finished the read, I realize the title makes perfect sense.

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November 19, 2011
Isn't that awesome when that happens? I haven't had that happen to me with books because I don't have the patience to pick up and sit through something that doesn't sound appealing to me, but I've definitely have had movies throw me off with their titles. Glad to hear you liked this one! This is definitely a very interesting topic and something that I'm oddly fascinated with. Will have to check it out. Thanks!
About the reviewer
Sheila Deeth ()
Ranked #42
Sheila Deeth's first novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released in print and ebook formats. Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, etc. Her spiritual speculative novellas can be found at … more
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Amazon Exclusive: Ken Ballen on Terrorists in Love

Terrorists in Love defies conventional thinking. Even though I had studied radicals and criminals for most of my career, when I went behind the lines, and got to know some of today's terrorists closely, everything I thought I knew was shattered. That's why I decided to write this book.

I started out as a federal prosecutor, a job in which I convicted international terrorists and then I became a Congressional investigator. From nearly two decades in this line of work, I learned a simple truth: you can really only find out about people by talking to them—in depth and at length.

So I started a non-profit organization to learn what makes people support extremism and spent five years researching and interviewing more than a hundred extremists—-in Pakistan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and throughout the Muslim world.

And what I found surprised even me. From frustrated love to mystical visions, from envy of Americans to blind hatred, here is a world so different from our own, it begs for understanding—-and a different response than what our policy makers have given so far.

I got to know Taliban soldiers, Al Qaeda suicide bombers and extremist leaders, even though I'm American and Jewish. I learned what no amount of torture or confinement of terrorists could ever tell us: what lay within their hearts. These straightforward lessons will help give us all a clearer path to defeat terrorism in our times-—and build ...

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ISBN-10: 1451609213
ISBN-13: 978-1451609219
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs, Nonfiction
Publisher: Free Press

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