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)
A work of art on story telling. Narrator was very good in his reading of the material. I highly recommend this book or audio to anyone interested in how Muslim extremism came about.
An excellent history of America's greatest tragedy. The story was well researched and fair... Drawing the reader into the lives of the characters.
British ex-pat living in NC. Have more personalities than Sybil which is reflected in my choice of books! Frustrated writer at heart.
I am sure that most of us are aware of what happened on that perfect bright sunny morning on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. It is imprinted in our memories. We have read the papers, the books and watched the documentaries and movies about that day and those that followed however how did it start. Who were these people? Did our government know anything about these people prior to that fateful day?
This beautifully written and narrated volume grabs you from the start. I promise you that although it talks about the CIA, FBI and other government operations you will not get bored at all. It tells us about the leaders as men, their beliefs and their motivation. We scratch our heads as it is beyond our comprehension. On the other hand to the followers of Bin Ladin being a martyr for their cause was as natural as breathing.
I highly recommend this book as it did not justify what they did but it explained the insanity. This was not an act by Muslims and we should NEVER forget that. This act was committed by people who were extremists who followed a leader who had a God complex within that insanity. We have seen it before e.g. Adolf Hitler and Jim Jones to mention just two.
(But were afraid to ask)
Brilliant narrative on the formulation of events leading up to 9/11. I'm sure there are details missing like al Qaeda in Bosnia and the linkages of government and extremists not to mention the nature of Islam and jihad but altogether an absorbing story.
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.
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