Scott Shane - New York Times Journalist and Author of Objective Troy

Objective Troy
A Terrorist, a President, and the Rise of the Drone

Objective Troy Book Front Cover

Objective Troy tells the gripping and unsettling story of Anwar al-Awlaki, the once-celebrated American imam who called for moderation after 9/11 but ultimately directed his outsized talents to the mass murder of his fellow citizens. It follows Barack Obama’s campaign against the excesses of the Bush counterterrorism programs and his eventual embrace of the targeted killing of suspected militants. And it recounts how the president directed the mammoth machinery of spy agencies to hunt Awlaki down in a frantic pursuit that would end with a missile fired using the robotic technology that has changed warfare—the drone.

Scott Shane, who has covered terrorism for The New York Times over the last decade, weaves the clash between president and terrorist into both a riveting narrative and a deeply human account of the defining conflict of our era. Awlaki, who directed a plot that almost derailed Obama’s presidency, and then taunted him from his desert hideouts, will go down in history as the first United States citizen deliberately hunted and executed by his own government without trial. But his eloquent calls to jihad, amplified by YouTube, continue to lure young Westerners into terrorism—resulting in tragedies from the Boston marathon bombing to the murder of cartoonists at a Paris weekly. Awlaki’s life and death show how profoundly America has been changed by the threat of terrorism and by our own fears.

Illuminating and provocative, and based on years of reporting, Objective Troy is a brilliant reckoning with the moral challenge of terrorism and a masterful chronicle of our times.

For a study guide to Objective Troy for professors assigning the book and students reading it, click here. Professors: For information on how to order a desk/examination copy of the book, send an email here.

Click here to see a collection of the government documents that Scott Shane used in the reporting of Objective Troy, posted by The National Security Archive.

A Terrorist

Terrorist Anwar al Awlaki with RPG Weapon

...Anwar al-Awlaki, fourteen years younger, was the rising idol, preaching an ideology indistinguishable from Bin Laden’s but in a refreshingly blunt, clear, and informal style. His usual choice of English limited his influence in the Arab world, but it gave him the same international appeal that made Apple and Toyota borderless brands. He addressed English-speaking Muslims in the West as an imam who knew from experience their lives and insecurities. The fact that he had been imprisoned for eighteen months in Yemen, and his notoriety in the American media after Fort Hood and the airliner attack, only burnished his appeal to followers. They believed he was speaking Islamic truth to infidel power...

A President

Obama Announces Anwar al Awlaki's on CNN

...Those who did not already know Obama well soon discovered that he was neither a pacifist nor an ideologue, though both opponents on the right and admirers on the left consistently misunderstood this. At heart, for better or worse, Obama proposed to be a ruthless pragmatist, especially when it came to counterterrorism. If the staggering expenditure of young lives and national treasure in the two big wars was meant to make America safe from terrorism, he thought, it was a perverse way to go about it. Occupying Muslim countries for years with a small city’s worth of heavily armed and sometimes trigger-happy Americans was proving ineffective or counterproductive... But inaction was not an option, given the dire news from Pakistan...

The Rise of the Drone

MQ-1 Predator Drone Unmanned Aircraft

...By 1981, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems was a decade old and had the money and clout to draw as keynote speaker the famous Hungarian-born physicist known as the father of the hydrogen bomb, Edward Teller. At a press conference, the seventy-three-year-old Teller declared that “the unmanned vehicle today is a technology akin to the importance of radars and computers in 1935.”....Teller said that in addition to being small, cheap, and expendable, “unmanned vehicles become really useful when they are intelligent"; they could carry “every extra sensory organ that you can dream of”; they could “be used for reconnaissance, for attack or for defense—for anything you please.”...