New names, new ways of life, I said at the end of the last post, but sometimes beginnings and endings get blurry. Earlier this week, spurred by the weekend's big story, I put back on my old Typepad identity and unearthed interviews I did for Amazon with two American reporters who perhaps knew Osama bin Laden's story better than any others, Lawrence Wright and Steve Coll. Many of the Amazon author interviews I did before the past few years have, sadly (to me at least), been deep-sixed by the vagaries of shifting platforms and hosting agreements (and by spotty archiving on my part), but I was able to track versions of both of these down: a transcript of my talk with Wright in 2006 for his great history of al Qaeda, The Looming Tower, and the actual recording of my 2008 interview with Coll for his fascinating book about the gigantic and almost preposterously emblematic family Osama came from, The Bin Ladens.
I posted both over at Omnivoracious, but you can also listen to the Coll interview right here.
You can read the full Wright transcript at Omni (where you can also find links to Wright and Coll's reactions to bin Laden's death this week, and to Wright's HBO documentary about the making of his book), but here's one exchange:
Amazon: You quote bin Laden as telling his men in the early '90s, "Al-Qaeda will drag the United States into a war with Islam, a large scale front which it cannot control." It's almost 15 years later. How's he doing?
Wright: We really seem to be playing out of their playbook. He was mistaken about Afghanistan. He had no idea that it would be so easy for the American coalition forces to push aside the Taliban and pummel al-Qaeda, and essentially al-Qaeda was dead in December 2001. But it's been regenerated by Iraq, and what is going on now in Iraq is very much like what he hoped to have happen in Afghanistan.
Perhaps, in part because of bin Laden's death but even more so because of all the courageous battles against despots of this year's Arab Spring, we can finally start to put that playbook aside.