Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America's Secret Campaign Against al-Qaeda, by Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker. An intellectual history buried within a newspaper-y expose. The real value of Counterstrike isn't any of its unearthed tidbits about ten years of counterterrorism. It's about how defense intellectuals in the second Bush and first Obama term came to believe that most terrorists are, in fact, deterrable. As it turns out, the stance of G.W.B. during his first term that there can be no deterring the suicidal quietly gets reversed during his second, with bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri -- the real undeterrables -- looking more to counterterrorism professionals as the outliers than the representatives of a new terrorist threat. Alas, that insight can come across as tacked on when stretched to a book-length treatment, and Counterstrike strains under the weight of reporting dull bureaucratic details and processes with clinical exactitude. Oh, and one really important discovery: Bush tried to send back channel messages to bin Laden himself! Remember that the next time you read some conservative getting on Obama's ass for trying to talk to Iran or Bashar Assad.