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


By Ethan Chorin

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In recognition of the 10th anniversary of the attack in Benghazi, a noted Libya expert and eyewitness to the attack provides a startling reconsideration of one of the defining controversies of our era.

Ten years after an attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, cries of "Benghazi!" still echo across America. But instead of a landmark event to be taken seriously, it has become a punchline, an empty word, or a code for controversy and political theatre. In this thrilling retelling, Ethan Chorin reveals Benghazi as a watershed moment in American history, one that helped create the world America lives in today: polarized, fearful, and dangerously unstable.
Here, Benghazi is not a story contained in 13 hours, but a decades-long history beginning with the rise of Muammar Gaddafi, stretching through 9/11, the War on Terror, and the Arab Spring, and reaching into the present day, as the impact of the attack and ensuing controversy remain visible in America and around the world. 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 key players like Hillary Clinton and Ben Rhodes. With this ambitious, engaging narrative, Chorin makes clear why Benghazi still matters so much ten years later—and why we can’t afford to continue overlooking and misunderstanding it. 

  • “The complexity that surrounds Benghazi is presented in all its nuance, yet the author’s commanding prose helps to guide readers smoothly through the frenzied series of events…. Over the course of this book, Chorin provides a harrowing personal perspective on the fateful day, with a number of salient details readers won’t find elsewhere…. [Benghazi!] balances remarkable depth with an engaging narrative.”
  • “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 skillfully unravels the many complex and confounding narratives around an event which had momentous repercussions on domestic US politics. His book is powerful testament to both America’s fractured identity and its diminished influence in the Middle East.”
    FRANCIS GHILÈS, Arab Digest
  • “Of all the millions of words spilled on [Benghazi], only Ethan Chorin has taken the trouble to explain in a detailed, eloquent, and above all, convincing fashion why it matters. His thorough research and painstaking reconstruction of what happened before and after Benghazi should serve as a warning to future loudmouths.”
    DR. ERIC ALTERMAN, author of Kabuki Democracy and When Presidents Lie
  • “Chorin tells a story that absolutely must be told. The fact that he lived the main events he describes lends a real energy, shape and force to the narrative.”
    SIR JOHN JENKINS, career UK ambassador, former director of The Institute of International and Strategic Studies (IISS)
  • “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 Indendence
  • “Anyone with a serious interest in Libya, or anyone looking for examples of how partisan politics has affected our conduct of foreign relations in the current century, will find Ethan Chorin’s Benghazi! an excellent case study…[Chorin] has written a very personal account, but in the process has identified several issues of interest to anyone dealing with our nation’s foreign affairs who is concerned with our reputation and influence in the world.” 
    AMBASSADOR CHARLES O. CECIL, Foreign Service Journal

On Sale
Sep 6, 2022
Page Count
432 pages
Hachette Books

Ethan Chorin

About the Author

Ethan Chorin is a former diplomat, senior political analyst, author, and environmental entrepreneur. From 2004 to 2006, he was one of a handful of US diplomats posted to Libya to help set up a US mission in the wake of the rapprochement with Colonel Gaddafi. Six years later, as co-director of an NGO working to help build medical infrastructure in Eastern Libya, he became a witness to the Benghazi attack and its aftermath. A year later, he was nominated by both Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. John McCain to succeed Stevens as ambassador. From 2020-2021, he was Sr. Advisor to the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the UAE.
A widely respected expert on Libya, Chorin is the author of Exit the Colonel: The Hidden History of the Libyan Revolution and Translating Libya: In Search of the Libyan Short Story. His work on Libya, the Middle East, and Iran has appeared in the New York Times, the Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Prospect, Forbes, Newsweek, and others. He has been a regular commentator on Libya for the BBC, and has also appeared on CNBC, CNN, CBS, and C-SPAN.
Chorin holds a PhD in Agriculture and Resource Economics and an MA in Economic History from UC Berkeley, a Master’s in International Policy Studies from Stanford, and a BA from Yale with distinction in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures. He has been a Fulbright Scholar (Jordan) and Fulbright-Hays fellow (Yemen), and he has held fellow and senior fellow positions at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Yale School of Management, and the Dubai School of Government.  He lives in the New York area.

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