Maximum Harm

The Tsarnaev Brothers, the FBI, and the Road to the Marathon Bombing

Michele R. McPhee

In Maximum Harm, veteran investigative journalist Michele R. McPhee unravels the complex story behind the public facts of the Boston Marathon bombing. She examines the bombers’ roots in Dagestan and Chechnya, their struggle to assimilate in America, and their growing hatred of the United States—a deepening antagonism that would prompt federal prosecutors to dub Dzhokhar Tsarnaev “America’s worst nightmare.” The difficulties faced by the Tsarnaev family of Cambridge, Massachusetts, are part of the public record. Circumstances less widely known are the FBI’s recruitment of the older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, as a “mosque crawler” to inform on radical separatists here and in Chechnya; the tracking down and killing of radical Islamic separatists during the six months he spent in Russia—travel that raised eyebrows, since he was on several terrorist watchlists; the FBI’s botched deals and broken promises with regard to his immigration; and the disenchantment, rage, and growing radicalization of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, along with their mother, sisters, and Tamerlan’s wife, Katherine. Maximum Harm is also a compelling examination of the Tsarnaev brothers’ movements in the days leading up to the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013, the subsequent investigation, the Tsarnaevs’ murder of MIT police officer Sean Collier, the high-speed chase and shootout that killed Tamerlan, and the manhunt in which the authorities finally captured Dzhokhar, hiding in a Watertown backyard. McPhee untangles the many threads of circumstance, coincidence, collusion, motive, and opportunity that resulted in the deadliest attack on the city of Boston to date.

Cloth: $29.95
ISBN-13: 9781611688498
Pages: 340 | Size: 6 in. x 9 in.
Date Published: April 4, 2017


  • Investigative journalist McPhee’s latest true crime narrative takes the story of the Boston Marathon bombing to new levels with her gripping account of the explosion, the frantic search for the culprits, and the eventual trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Even readers familiar with the contours of the tragedy are likely to find McPhee’s narrative terrifying and moving.

    Publishers Weekly
  • Graphic. . . Heart-wrenching. . . Passionate

    New York Journal of Books
  • No single reporter has covered the Boston bombing as thoroughly as Michele McPhee. She knows Boston-its streets, its cops, and its corridors of power. Maximum Harm is riveting-a tribute to the first responders, and, startlingly, a troubling exposé of the FBI’s botched handling of the Tsarnaev brothers. You may think you know this story, but until you read this book, you don’t.

    T. J. English
    New York Times–bestselling author of Where the Bodies Were Buried and The Westies
  • In Maximum Harm, Michele McPhee uncovers shocking new truths about the Boston Marathon bombers and those in government, law enforcement, and their own community who gave them free rein to plot and execute one of the most vicious terror attacks ever carried out on American soil. This book will grab you, shake you, and will not let you go!

    Casey Sherman
    New York Times–bestselling author of The Finest Hours and Boston Strong
  • While the government quietly closed their case against the lone terrorist brought to trial in the Boston Marathon bombing, Michele McPhee continued to work behind the scenes developing investigative leads through her cadre of sources. Maximum Harm is the latest example of McPhee’s investigative excellence and exposes many of the details kept secret from the public, leaving the reader questioning if justice was truly served.

    Thomas Pasquarello
    former Somerville, MA, police chief and special agent of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (retired)

About the Author

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