A New History of the Fiasco that Pushed America and its World to the Brink

Now available

From 2004-2006, Ethan Chorin was one of a handful of US diplomats posted to Libya in the wake of rapprochement with Colonel Gaddafi. Six years later, he was in Benghazi (planning to meet the next day with Ambassador Chris Stevens) when the U.S. mission came under attack—an event that still reverberates through American domestic politics and foreign policy in disturbing and unexpected ways, as Chorin explains in BENGHAZI! A New History of the Fiasco that Pushed America and its World to the Brink.

Despite hundreds of hours of Congressional hearings, a deep dive into Hillary Clinton’s personal email, and the trial of two suspects (ultimately acquitted), there are many unanswered questions about what happened in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. This has something to do with American intelligence failures, Chorin argues, but even more so with political infighting and miscalculations on the part of both Democrats and Republicans. As Chorin writes: “Understanding Benghazi’s significance and its kinetic power— not just as an attack or a scandal, but also as a consequence and prime mover in two decades of world history—requires exposing context: domestic context, regional context, historical context. It requires examining the repeating themes of American policy in the Middle East and transitions between American administrations, and the increasingly toxic rhetoric that accompanies these transitions, figuring out why the United States makes the same mistakes over and over again, and—more to the point—doing something about it.”

To tell this story, Chorin draws on his own bone-chilling experience during the Benghazi attack, his expertise as a former diplomat and scholar of Libyan history, and new interviews with Libyan insiders, eyewitnesses, and various senior Obama officials, including Hillary Clinton. Democrats and Republicans agree on little when it comes to Benghazi, but both sides are likely to find themselves feeling vindicated by some of Chorin’s revelations and conclusions, while strongly contesting others. There is plenty of blame to go around—but also plenty of opportunity if we are willing to finally learn the lessons of Benghazi, ten years on.


New Lines Magazine Best of 2022 (read article)

“Chorin engages with one of the most baffling, fascinating, and symbolic events in modern American foreign policy. It’s an extraordinary subject analyzed by an author with extraordinary experience and knowledge.”
—Rory Stewart, OBE, New York Times bestselling author of The Places In Between

“Chorin is the first person to break through the leathery-thick narratives around Benghazi, in the process grappling with questions few have been able to formulate, let alone answer.”
—Bradley Hope, bestselling author of The Billion Dollar Whale and Blood and Oil

“In Benghazi! Ethan Chorin has produced a remarkable book that details America’s entanglement in Libya’s wars and the momentous repercussions this has had on domestic US politics. This is must read for anyone who wants to understand the mistakes the US has repeatedly made since 9/11.”
—Professor Bernard Haykel, Princeton University

“Far above all the hype and partisanship and the distortions surrounding Benghazi stands this book by Ethan Chorin, one of the most knowledgeable and longstanding observers of Libya. What happened in Benghazi he argues in painstaking detail and analysis, was not just about Libya. It represented a perfect storm that painfully reflected America’s political dysfunctions at the time. There is no better book out there that captures both the Benghazi incident and what it represented for the US and for its future.”
—Professor Dirk Vandewalle, author of A History of Libya and Libya Since Independence
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