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)
Every westerner every non Muslim should read this. I never understood where the Islamic fundamentalist got the inspiration to commit mass murder. I now have some insight into their history and the madness they believe.
Lawrence Wright did an excellent job tracking the development of al-qaeda, and the genesis of its philosophies. I learned a lot about Islam and the internal division and struggles within it, and appreciated the author's efforts to provide a fair and unbiased history beginning in the mid-20th century. Listeners will be delighted to find that Alan Sklar's reading of this book truly does it justice. This is perfect pairing not to be missed!
I really enjoyed this book and learned so much about the origins of where a lot of our conflict with the Middle East and Islam stems from. We have so much to learn from history and also trying to understand other perspectives from around the world.
If you ever wondered what goes into the minds of these mad men, what makes them tick, or simply 'why?', this book is very informative.
Some information about Islam is a bit inaccurate, such as regarding divorce and a couple other things I can't recall at the moment. Overall though I would say the author appears unbiased and fair.
If you are reading this book to learn how a religion such as Islam can be turned into such a scary thing, an excellent complimentary would be 'No God but God' by Reza Aslan, a definite must read!
A great book with the information that I was hoping to get out of it! Extremely informative about the history and events leading up to 911. A great insight.
An amazing book and incredibly detailed yet fluid description of the multiple layers to 9/11 and the ultimate failure of the US CIA and FBI to potentially prevent that event. Not politically biased one way or the other. Narration is outstanding.
Such a comprehensive well-written narrative of the events leading to the 9/11 attacks is hard to find, but this book truly delivers! The insights of those whose beliefs and actions led to today's terror networks are thoroughly explored and extremely helpful.
Looking at the excellent reviews posted here, it is hard to find anything unique to say. Just add my voice to the choir of those who say, "Well done! Bravo!!!"
Newly retired, I am a reading fiend! I like many types of books, both fiction and non-fiction, with the exception of romance and fantasy
This book picks up momentum as it gradually draws you in to a story everyone should know. Fascinating, scary, and frustrating all at the same time. You shake your head and wonder just how this could have happened when all the pieces of the puzzle were there all along.
I thought the narrator was wonderful and added to the experience of the book immensely.
This book is a revealing window into why America was attacked on Sept 11 2001. It traces the history of the current radical Islamist thinking, and shows how it culminated in the 9-11 attack. It also gives the reader an understanding of why the Islamists cannot be negotiated with, in the usual understanding of the word.
I can't think of a more important book for anyone who wants to understand the root causes of militant Islam. I thought I had done a fair amount of reading on this subject previously, but this book was truly revelatory.
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