Osama bin Laden

A Biography

by Thomas R. Mockaitis


To some, he is evil incarnate, the most hated and most hateful man in the world, and the most wanted criminal on the planet. To his followers, he is a hero, one who sacrificed a life of luxury and used his wealth to fight against the Westernization of the Arab world.

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Cover image for Osama bin Laden

January 2010


Pages 141
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Security Studies/Terrorism

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.

Osama bin Laden: A Biography offers a concise, fact-based portrait of a man whose rise from obscurity to notoriety coincides with some of the most traumatic events of the 21st century. It follows bin Laden's story from his life in Saudi society in the 1960s and 1970s to his religious conversion, his emergence as a jihadist leader, his horrifying terrorist attacks, and his near-mythic status in parts of the Muslim world today.

Drawing on a wide range of sources, Osama bin Laden finds the political and religious roots of a worldview that combines devout faith with a belief in violence and terrorism. The book pays particular attention to the spread of radical Islam from Egypt to Saudi Arabia and beyond, as well as the development of Al Qaeda and its current scope and capabilities.


  • A chronology of major events in the life of Osama bin Laden
  • 12 photographs of bin Laden at various stages of his life


  • Offers an unbiased portrait of a person of extraordinarily high interest
  • Draws on rigorous scholarly research to examine bin Laden's life in the context of the rise of radical Islam
  • Tells bin Laden's story in a manner well-suited to high school and introductory college level readers
Author Info

Thomas R. Mockaitis, PhD, is professor of history at DePaul University, Chicago, IL. He earned his BA in history from Allegheny College and his MA and PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His published works include Praeger's The "New" Terrorism: Myths and Reality, Iraq and the Challenge of Counterinsurgency, and British Counterinsurgency, 1919-1960 in the Post-Imperial Era: War, Armed Forces, and Society, which won the Templer Medal for the best work on British Military History. He team-teaches counterterrorism courses around the world for the Center for Civil-Military Relations of the Naval Postgraduate School. Dr. Mockaitis is a frequent media commentator on terrorism.



"provides a complete, well-rounded review of bin Laden's life and politics. . . . Any collection strong in Middle East affairs . . . will find this of lasting importance."Midwest Book Review

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