October, 2021

Swag is back! 

One of our favorite elements of the Fifth Draft has been on hold since we left the New America offices in March of 2020—our book giveaway! 

We have a backlog of incredible books from our Fellows and want to give them to you. Through December we'll be giving away multiple books each month. 

Enter to win here. Happy reading! 

Three questions with...
Former Fellow + VP of New America Peter Bergen

Your most recent book The Rise and Fall of Osama Bin Laden, is a complex and thorough biography of the former Al-Qaeda leader. Why did you decide to write this book now?

Al-Qaeda’s leader is also one of the few people of whom it can truly be said that he changed the course of history. With the 9/11 attacks, he set the course for US foreign policy for the first two decades of the 21st century and he also changed the course of events in the greater Middle East in all sorts of unexpected ways. Also, in recent years a great deal of information has surfaced to illuminate bin Laden. First, there is the small library of documents found in bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound that were only released in full in late 2017, amounting to some 470,000 files. Secondly, many bin Laden associates have finally shown a willingness to talk. The result is that a decade after his death, it is now possible to appraise him in all the many dimensions of his life: as a family man; as a religious zealot; as a battlefield commander; as a terrorist leader; as a fugitive.

Over your decades as a journalist, you’ve focused on bin Laden, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and terrorism more broadly. How has your reporting on these topics changed over the past twenty-plus years?

I’m a big believer in the utility of new documents. The Abbottabad files mentioned in the previous answer help explain the life that bin Laden and his family were leading while they were on the run following the 9/11 attacks and they also help illuminate how al-Qaeda and its various affiliates functioned after those attacks. They included a handwritten 228-page bin Laden family journal that recorded the lengthy discussions between bin Laden and his older wives and adult children in the weeks before his death. From these new documents, which amounted to 6,000 pages of useful material, many new insights have emerged about bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

You’ve worn many hats over the years: as a journalist, a professor, and as the Vice President of the New America Fellows program and the Global Studies program. How do these different roles inform each other?

They all build on each other. Take a subject like Afghanistan: I have taught classes about the Afghan wars at three universities. I also reported on those wars as a journalist since 1993, and have edited or written multiple books about Afghanistan and the Taliban. Each of these activities reinforces the others. When I teach I can draw on my own experiences of reporting in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan before 9/11. When I report I can draw on some of the academic literature I’m familiar with including Talibanistan, a book published as a New America project by Oxford University Press in 2014, which still is useful to understand what is happening today in Afghanistan.

Hot Off The Press

Invisible Child

The riveting, unforgettable story of a girl whose indomitable spirit is tested by homelessness, poverty, and racism in an unequal America.

Order through our bookselling partner Solid State Books here.

By: Andrea Elliott, Class of 2016

Learn More

Seed Money

An authoritative and eye-opening history that examines how Monsanto came to have outsized influence over our food system.

Publication date: October 12th.

Available for pre-order through our bookselling partner Solid State Books here.

By: Bartow J. Elmore, Class of 2017

Learn More

Two Cents

Fellows share how they know when a good idea is THE idea.

1: I never do. But I assume that all ideas about identity and race in America are always THE ideas that need to be pursued vigorously. Caleb J. Gayle, Class of 2021

2: A good idea becomes THE idea when you CANNOT stop thinking about it. The best ideas breed obsession! — Jonathan Blitzer, Class of 2021

3: After awhile, you just feel it. You have read enough, talked around enough, to know you exceptionally are on top of the subject. — Steve Levine, Class of 2012


Reginald Dwayne Betts was named a 2021 MacArthur Fellow.

Sara Hendren won the 2021 Science in Society Journalism Award from the National Association of Science Writers in the Books category for her book What Can a Body Do?

Abrahm Lustgarten won the 2021 Science in Society Journalism Award from the National Association of Science Writers in the Series category for his work on the New York Times Magazine & ProPublica series "Where Will Everyone Go? How Climate Refugees Might Move Across International Borders." Abrahm also appeared on NPR's 1A to discuss the impacts of the dropping water levels of the Colorado River.

Anna Louie Sussman wrote about the future of infertility treatments for the Helm.

Keisha Blain was interviewed by Black Perspectives, the award winning blog from the African American Intellectual History Society, about her latest book Until I Am Free

Andrea Elliot's new book, Invisible Child, was excerpted and featured as the cover article for the New York Times Magazine. The much anticipated book was also reviewed by the New York Times and was included on the New York Times' list of the best new nonfiction books to read this season.

Julian Brave NoiseCat wrote about the impacts of Canada's recent elections on the country's progressive party for the National Observer.

Adam Harris was interviewed about his book, The State Must Provide, on "St. Louis On Air." He also talked to MarketWatch about the book.

Two Cents
New America Events

The top 3 New America events we recommend you check out. Now.



Renewal: From Crisis to Transformation in Our Lives, Work, and Politic

Join New America for a conversation with CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter about her new book and the power of renewal with Kiese Laymon. Learn More


Invisible Child: Poverty, Hope, and Survival in an American City

Join the New America Fellows Program for a conversation with Andrea Elliott, Class of 2016, and 2021 Fellow Brian Goldstone about Andrea's new book. Learn More


Seed Money: Monsanto's Past and Our Food Future

Join the New America Fellows Program for a conversation with Bartow J. Elmore, Class of 2017, and 2017 Fellow and Pulitzer Prize winner Marcia Chatelain about Bart's new book. Learn More

Reading this month

"A loving and terrifying collection of graphic essays that wrestle with the burning questions of our time."
— Ellen D. Wu,
Class of 2022

Learn More

"Everett's studiousness should send shivers down the spines of any literary critic worth their salt and yet that is also what makes his fiction so much fun; this novel being no exception."
— Lauren Michele Jackson,
Class of 2022

Learn More

"A beautiful and moving narrative that captures the beauty and power of Black women’s history."
— Keisha N. Blain,
Class of 2022

Learn More

Free Swag

Fill out the form below for a chance to win a copy of one of the five books available this month. 

Please submit by COB Monday, October 12th to be considered. No requests, books will be sent randomly. 

Get swag!

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