Pulitzer Prize, General Nonfiction, 2007This is a sweeping narrative history of the events leading to 9/11, a groundbreaking look at the people and ideas, the terrorist plans, and the Western intelligence failures that culminated in the assault on America. Lawrence Wright's remarkable book is based on five years of research and hundreds of interviews that he conducted in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, England, France, Germany, Spain, and the United States.
The Looming Tower achieves an unprecedented level of intimacy and insight by telling the story through the interweaving lives of four men: the two leaders of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri; the FBI's counterterrorism chief, John O'Neill; and the former head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Turki al-Faisal.
As these lives unfold, we see revealed the crosscurrents of modern Islam that helped to radicalize Zawahiri and bin Laden; the birth of al-Qaeda and its unsteady development into an organization capable of the American embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and the attack on the USS Cole; O'Neill's heroic efforts to track al-Qaeda before 9/11, and his tragic death in the World Trade towers; Prince Turki's transformation from bin Laden's ally to his enemy; and the failures of the FBI, CIA, and NSA to share intelligence that might have prevented the 9/11 attacks.
The Looming Tower broadens and deepens our knowledge of these signal events by taking us behind the scenes. Here is Sayyid Qutb, founder of the modern Islamist movement, lonely and despairing as he meets Western culture up close in 1940s America; the privileged childhoods of bin Laden and Zawahiri; family life in the al-Qaeda compounds of Sudan and Afghanistan; O'Neill's high-wire act in balancing his all-consuming career with his equally entangling personal life (he was living with three women, each of them unaware of the others' existence); and the nitty-gritty of turf battles among U.S. intelligence agencies.
©2006 Lawrence Wright; (P)2006 Tantor Media
"Comprehensive and compelling." (Kirkus)
"Deeply researched...immaculately crafted." (The Wall Street Journal)
"Important, gripping....One of the best books yet on the history of terrorism." (Publishers Weekly)
"A thoughtful examination of the world that produced the men who brought us 9/11, and of their progeny who bedevil us today....The Looming Tower is a thriller. And it's a tragedy, too." (The New York Times Book Review)
Very well written
Amazing facts on american disorganization prior to 911
A frightening look into the minds of radical Islam
A very informative book which basically reads like a novel with innumerable characters; so many that it is in fact hard to remember who is who. Excellent Narrator, especially when it comes to pronouncing arabic names (this coming from someone who does NOT speak any arabic).
Set aside conspiracy theories and whatever you think you've been able to piece together from cable news and water cooler conversations with the equally misinformed. The Looming Tower lays out the foundations of the movements and organizations which plotted and ultimately carried out this century's defining tragedy, but also the bureaucratic and narcissistic incompetencies of those entrusted with preventing said tragedy, until its heart-breaking culmination on that Tuesday morning in September of '01.
I think this should be required reading for any federal law, intelligence, and state department employee. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to have a clear understanding of the failures that led to 9/11 and global jihad.
A must read for those trying to understand current events and what the western world is up against. No matter your political persuasion this is a book that must be read and reflected upon.
Fantastic overview of the history of extremist thought in Islamic culture. There is genuine insight into the attacks on 9-11 but the real core of the book is in giving historical context to political situation that surrounds those who so hated western culture.
If you have ever wondered about the deeper story when the media discusses how certain groups want to kill Amercia etc. then this is for you.
It manages to carry a nicely objective stance throughout always feels like it's laying out the facts and not pushing any agenda other than education.
I really liked the incredible detail that was revealed in this amazing book. I was completely horrified at how the Muslims in this book used their religion to justify mass murder. I would recommend this book to anyone who is trying to understand wars in the Middle East. It is rare to listen to a book that has so much detail. May the power of good overcome this evil.
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