Burke, Jason 1970(?)–

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Burke, Jason 1970(?)–


Born c. 1970.


Home— England.


Observer, London, England, chief reporter. Previously served as an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times, London, focusing on the Middle East, and for an independent newspaper in Islamabad, Pakistan.


Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror, I.B. Tauris (New York, NY), 2003.

On the Road to Kandahar: Travels through Conflict in the Islamic World, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2007.


British journalist Jason Burke is the chief reporter for the Observer in London, England, but most frequently finds himself stationed in the Middle East, covering the political turmoil and strife in that part of the world. He previously served as an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times and also worked briefly for an independent newspaper based in Islamabad, Pakistan. Burke is the author of several books, including his first effort,Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror, which was published in 2003 in the wake of the September eleventh attacks on New York City and Washington, DC. Based heavily on knowledge Burke acquired while living in the Middle East, as well as thorough research, the book illuminates the various sides involved in the ongoing conflict between East and West, particularly as it pertains to the United States. He explains clearly why the situation with Al-Qaeda is far more complicated than the simplistic link to Osama bin Laden that was suggested by the United States government shortly after the 9/11 attacks. In an interview on the Buzz Flash Web site, Burke explained how the old definition of Al-Qaeda no longer holds true: "What we have now is something far more diverse—a whole series of groups, cells, and even individuals who are dissimilar in many ways, but are united by certain fundamental ideological ideas, and a particular way of viewing the world. Broadly, if you want or if you need an al-Qaeda as a label, then I think it should be applied to that broad movement, rather than one specific group." The book applies this new definition to the war in Iraq and explains why it is operating based on erroneous assumptions. Ben Granger, in a review for Spike Magazine.com, remarked: "Burke's study is exemplary in its research, and explains its extremely complex tale with some clarity," but went on to note that the writing itself has a clinical tone for the average reader. Fred Rhodes, reviewing for Middle East, credits Burke's effort with "revolutionizing our understanding of Al-Qaeda, retelling its story from scratch and critically exploding myths."

On the Road to Kandahar: Travels through Conflict in the Islamic World is a far more personal book, stemming from Burke's extensive travels through the Middle East and Asia over the course of his career. His earliest experiences date from when he was just twenty years old, fighting in northern Iraq along with Kurdish guerillas in 1991. He went on to work in the Middle East as a reporter, both for British periodicals and for an Islamabad independent, all of which provided him with very different outlooks on both the political and religious situations in the countries he visited and with an insider's view of daily life. Burke attempts to offer readers a more in-depth look at the culture, politics, and religions of the region, without succumbing to the more simplistic ideas of East versus West that are sometimes heard. He addresses the military use of Islam to motivate troops and the American use of propaganda to mobilize U.S. forces in return. As he navigates the delicate minefield of the Middle East, Burke honestly admits to suffering from his own Western perspective, despite his attempts at maintaining a neutral stance. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews called the book "a literate travelogue through troubled lands where the clash of civilizations is resounding loudly—and ever louder." New Statesman reviewer Roger Hardy remarked on the humanity of journalists, calling the Burke revealed in On the Road to Kandahar "engaging, good-humoured, nagged on occasion by fear and self-doubt, moved and sometimes overwhelmed by the world's humanity and inhumanity." He went on to comment: "This is a personal odyssey shot through with vivid description and human sympathy. There is no blinding flash of light on the road to Kandahar—only a slow, painful struggle to understand."



Burke, Jason,On the Road to Kandahar: Travels through Conflict in the Islamic World, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2007.


American Book Review, July-August, 2004, Dave Stevens, "Weapons of Mass Distraction," p. 9.

Asian Affairs, March 2004, S.J. Masty, review of Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror, p. 72.

Booklist, April 15, 2007, Vanessa Bush, review of On the Road to Kandahar, p. 18.

California Bookwatch, August, 2007, review of On the Road to Kandahar.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, October 2004, M.G. Roskin, review of Al-Qaeda, p. 367.

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2007, review of On the Road to Kandahar, p. 203.

London Review of Books, September 7, 2006, Lawrence Rosen, review of On the Road to Kandahar, p. 28.

Middle East, August-September, 2003, Fred Rhodes, review of Al-Qaeda, p. 65; July, 2005, "Al Qaeda: The True Story of Radical Islam," p. 64.

New Statesman, June 19, 2006, "Know Thy Enemy," p. 62.

Publishers Weekly, July 7, 2003, review of Al-Qaeda, p. 62; March 19, 2007, review of On the Road to Kandahar, p. 54.

Reference & Research Book News, August, 2007, review of On the Road to Kandahar.

Security Management, February, 2004, Mayer Nudell, review of Al-Qaeda, p. 85.


Blogpourri,http://blogpourri.blogspot.com/ (March 22, 2007), review of On the Road to Kandahar.

Buzz Flash Web site,http://www.buzzflash.com/ (October 9, 2003), Jason Burke interview.

Liberal Oasis Web site,http://www.liberaloasis.com/ (November 11, 2007), Jason Burke interview.

Spike Magazine.com,http://www.spikemagazine.com/ (November 11, 2007), Ben Granger, review of Al-Qaeda.

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