As I read this book, I was saddened to read about all of the innocent people who have died at the hands of terrorists, and I was also heartbroken to read about the people who fell into the spiral of becoming terrorists. Drawing from numerous stories, reports, and interviews, Bergen shows the reader common trends people undergo as they become formed as terrorists. He also provided a few examples of times when individuals did not go through any of the "common trends," and appeared to be completely "normal" until they unpredictably committed acts of terrorism.
One of the really interesting parts of this book was the discussion on government involvement in terrorism. How can the government monitor potential terrorists? How can the government stop them before they have a chance to harm others? The various real-life examples that Bergen gives show just how controversial this issue can be, and how there are some gray areas in determining what level of involvement is appropriate.
United States of Jihad was a timely read, given the level of terrorism in our current world. While the author's political biases show through occasionally, for the most part, I thought he did a fair job at examining both major political parties and their involvement with issues surrounding terrorism. Perhaps one of the most notable features of this book is the discussion of the "homegrown terrorist," since this is where America faces its biggest terrorism-related thread--and because it's the hardest one for officials to track and catch before a tragedy occurs. Reading this book not only informed me, but it lit a fire in my heart to become more aware of those people around me, so that I may help build community and reach out to others, and do my small part in fighting terrorism in our world.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.