A staff writer for The Atlantic chronicles the six years he spent reporting on the rise and fall of the ISIS proto-state, offering a chilling portrait of the destructive power of extremism and of the tenacity and astonishing courage required to defeat it.
Giglio takes the reader uncomfortably close to the realities of a war almost chameleon-like in its character, where foes become allies and allegiances shift as quickly as the desert sands ... Giglio’s trenchant reporting along the Turkish border reveals the people who had to play fast and loose with the truth to secure their own existence just as much as a profit, showing us the ugly gray areas between activities most label simplistically ... In this hair-raising account, Giglio’s writing thrums with the blood pulse of battle, speeding up only to jerk into slow motion as thoughts and visions race through a mind contemplating death ... What powers this book more than the chilling accounts of bullets zipping through the air and bombs roaring near and far, however, are the people Giglio encounters and the stories they share. They are the beating heart of this story, and they are truly unforgettable ... All the people Giglio portrays in this book have some type of lesson to share or a warning to impart. It behooves us to listen and take note.
Mike Giglio, now a national-security reporter for The Atlantic, beautifully unravels the rise and fall of the Islamic State in his book, Shatter the Nations ... Much has been written about ISIS, but what makes Shatter the Nations unique is Giglio’s expansive visual story line. He’s a skilled reporter, but where he shines is in his storytelling. Giglio constructs a narrative following a group of unlikely characters who came together to fight for and against ISIS, and his access is enviable. He is tenacious and persistent as he moves through dangerous territory; his network would leave an intelligence officer envious (and probably did), and his information is chilling.
... not a comprehensive repository of all things related to the Islamic State, in Syria and Iraq or globally. Instead, readers should expect quirky and important discoveries about the war and its transnational impact on oil smuggling, the running of refugees into Europe and the black market for antiquities. These activities helped support the Islamic State’s war machine, and Giglio is in his element explaining how they fit together as the militant group started to grow into a monster force. He rolled into battle with members of America’s local counter-Islamic State partners, and he captures the makeup of this motley crew ... Giglio might have provided a more nuanced portrait of the People’s Protection Units...while by no means perfect, the YPG (and the SDF) is much more than the caricature that Giglio presents in Shatter the Nations. Unfortunately, Giglio missed an opportunity to help the reader understand why the United States chose to partner with this group ... mostly succeeds as both a firsthand account of the war against the Islamic State and as something of a philosophical rumination on the larger 'forever war' that the United States launched after al-Qaeda’s Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Giglio has written an engaging and valuable account of the battle against the Islamic State and its regional and international effects. He captures, better than most any other author, the gritty, confusing and often cynical nature of this war fought by local actors on behalf of the United States. Readers who embark with Giglio on his harrowing adventures will gain much from his eye for the details that humanize his tale. Readers also will come away with a strong understanding of why the uprisings in Syria and Iraq metastasized into a multinational conflict that will reverberate for generations to come.