A story of epic success., failure, sadness, redemption , frustration and the high jacking of a religion. Lest we forget again the lessons of history. A must read for anyone who wants to debate the issue of radical Islam.
This is fascinating and all too troubling read. Wright takes us to the intellectual roots of Wahibisism and from their to its low hanging fruit of Al Jihad, Al Qaeda.
Wright also tracks the strange complicated threads of Osama Bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahri, both children of extreme privilege, and shapers of the future of radical Islamist movements.
This is also the story of an American intelligence, security and law enforcement apparatus that was ill equipped to stop a major attack even though different agencies had all the information necessary to stop the plot. Interagency pissing contests, and bureaucracy may have cost as many lives as the terrorists themselves.
The journalism is unparalleled, you feel as if you are standing right there with these people. Its unbelievable.
This is the best book yet about Al-Qaida. Lawrence Wright is a superb journalist and his tale starts over fifty years ago when a discontented Islamic scholar visited the United States. He goes on to recount the various incarnations of Islamic groups that eventually became Al-Qaida.
He also gives us a chilling account of the dogged pursuit of A-Q that paralleled the combination of laziness, intra-service rivalries, blindness, inattention, and error that allowed A-Q to proliferate and grow, culminating in 9-11.
This is absolutely a MUST READ for anyone who plans to have an intelligent conversation about A-Q or Islamic terrorism. If you find yourself in dialogue with someone who has not read The Looming Tower, save yourself a bout of frustration and high blood pressure and end the conversation immediately.
This was a difficult book to listen to -- not surprisingly, considering that it's about violent people and violent events. But Lawrence Wright is a wonderful writer who presents complex events and people without flinching and without sensationalism or sentimentalism. And Alan Sklar's narration captures the text perfectly (for me, at least); he's clear and consistent, serious as befits the subject without being boring. I don't know if he's pronouncing all the names correctly, but he never stumbles and is consistent across the book.
I feel smarter after listening to this book -- maybe a bit wiser, a bit more understanding. Definitely more knowledgeable. I don't know if I really am smarter -- this is the first book I've read on the Middle East except a few novels and some histories of Israel. Wright could be slanting things in a way I just don't see -- but he's a reputable journalist and his point of view seems clear-eyed and non-judgmental. After reading this book I certainly have a more expanded view of human beings and what we're capable of, and how our societies are shaped by us and shape us.
The book presents a terrifying view of a part of the world so distant from mine. I'm working on a computer; I'm listening to music; I make music and love art; my dogs are at my feet. I'm a woman, with a career and a car and all the accoutrements of modern Western life ... and there are people -- serious, thoughtful, dedicated people -- to whom I am an abomination. The ones in this book are mostly Muslims, though certainly they don't represent all (or even the majority of) Muslims in the book. And yet there are no two-dimensional villains in the story Wright tells, no individual person setting out to do evil for its own sake. The story leading to 9/11 includes lots of people who want to make the world a better place (though defining "better" can be a bit of a problem). Also lots of people just wanting to get by and live. There are frightened people, lost people, brave people, selfish people, gentle and cruel people. They're all here in our world with us -- which is the same as saying we're in their world with them.
I highly recommend this book. But it's not an easy listen.
I liked learning all the behind info on Bin Laden's life, the rise of Al qaeda, learning about the rival groups and about the social-political environment that fueled Bin Laden and his cohort. Unfortunately, all the Arabic and South Asian names were hard to keep track of. My western ears had difficulty remembering which name belonged to which person.
I enjoyed learning about the transition Bin Laden had in his unfortunate life.
Sometimes I felt like I was listening to poetry vs book on the most wanted man/men in US history.
The Looming Tower is a compelling and frustrating telling of the birth of radical Islam through the attacks of 9/11. Compelling because of the weaving of the story to where you don't want to stop listening. Frustrating because of the knowledge afterwards that it was highly likely the 9/11 plot could have been prevented, or at least disrupted, if the territorial mindset of the CIA, FBI, NSA, et al. would have been put aside. The painstaking research that went into the writing of this book is evident on every page. This book is a cautionary warning that there are still radical Islamists out there bent on killing all "non-believers" and respect nothing short of brute force and a willingness to apply such force to protect the innocent people the Islamists are targeting. I give nothing short of the highest recommendation of this book.
I liked how in depth this book was. How al Qaeda got started from a philosophical standpoint. However the author spends too much time talking about one of the early influencers that I felt could have been a 5 minute background and instead seemed to take over an hour. Then there were circumstances I wanted to learn more about, that I wish were an hour long that we're gleaned over in 5 minutes. It was also difficult to follow along with the many Arabic names- I lost track easily and wished I had the printed or iBook version, so I could make notes and refer back to keep track. Overall I am glad I read this book, I feel like I have a better understanding of the issues in the Middle East
Not sure depends on subject matter
The performance was fine, but I did find it slightly distracting that you could tell when he was recording at different times.
I would like to know more in depth about the CIA and how they investigated terrorism pre 9/11 and how it has changed since.