A book talk with Spencer Ackerman, author & Pulitzer Prize-winning national security reporter
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ABOUT THE BOOK
"An impressive combination of diligence and verve, deploying Ackerman’s deep stores of knowledge as a national security journalist to full effect. The result is a narrative of the last 20 years that is upsetting, discerning and brilliantly argued." —The New York Times
"One of the most illuminating books to come out of the Trump era." —New York Magazine
An examination of the profound impact that the War on Terror had in pushing American politics and society in an authoritarian direction.
For an entire generation, at home and abroad, the United States has waged an endless conflict known as the War on Terror. In addition to multiple ground wars, it has pioneered drone strikes and industrial-scale digital surveillance, as well as detaining people indefinitely and torturing them. These conflicts have yielded neither peace nor victory, but they have transformed America. What began as the persecution of Muslims and immigrants has become a normalized, paranoid feature of American politics and security, expanding the possibilities for applying similar or worse measures against other targets at home. A politically divided country turned the War on Terror into a cultural and then tribal struggle, first on the ideological fringes and ultimately expanding to conquer the Republican Party, often with the timid acquiescence of the Democratic Party. Today's nativist resurgence walked through a door opened by the 9/11 era.
Reign of Terror will show how these policies created a foundation for American authoritarianism and, though it is not a book about Donald Trump, it will provide a critical explanation of his rise to power and the sources of his political strength. It will show that Barack Obama squandered an opportunity to dismantle the War on Terror after killing Osama bin Laden. That mistake turns out to have been portentous. By the end of his tenure, the war metastasized into a broader and bitter culture struggle in search of a demagogue like Trump to lead it.
A union of journalism and intellectual history, Reign of Terror will be a pathbreaking and definitive book with the power to transform how America understands its national security policies and their catastrophic impact on its civic life.
Additionally, watch Spencer Ackerman speak about Reign of Terror on Democracy Now! here: "Spencer Ackerman on How the U.S. War on Terror Fueled and Excused Right-Wing Extremism at Home"
ORDER THE BOOK
Order Reign of Terror at Penguin Random House.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
For nearly the entire War on Terror, Spencer Ackerman has been a national-security correspondent for outlets like The New Republic, WIRED, The Guardian and The Daily Beast. He currently writes the Forever Wars on Substack and has reported from the frontlines of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay. He shared in the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service Journalism for Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks to The Guardian, a series of stories that also yielded him other awards, including the Scripps Howard Foundation’s 2014 Roy W. Howard Award for Public Service Reporting and the 2013 IRE medal for investigative reporting. Ackerman’s WIRED series on Islamophobic counterterrorism training at the FBI won the 2012 online National Magazine Award for reporting. He frequently appears on MSNBC, CNN, and other news networks.
ABOUT THE MODERATOR
Kal Raustiala holds the Promise Institute Chair in Comparative and International Law at UCLA Law School and is a Professor at the UCLA International Institute, where he teaches in the Program on Global Studies. Since 2007 he has served as Director of the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations. From 2012-2015 he was UCLA’s Associate Vice Provost for International Studies and Faculty Director of the International Education Office. Professor Raustiala's research focuses on international law, international relations, and intellectual property. He is currently writing a biography of the late UN diplomat, civil rights figure, and UCLA alum Ralph Bunche for Oxford University Press.