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The Looming Tower Audiobook

The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11

This 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.
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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, General Nonfiction, 2007

This 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

What the Critics Say

  • Pulitzer Prize, General Nonfiction, 2007
  • Audie Award Finalist, Non-Fiction, Unabridged, 2007

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    L. Gutman Albuquerque, NM United States 03-28-14
    L. Gutman Albuquerque, NM United States 03-28-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Not an easy listen, but an important one"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Helios Houston, tx 02-02-14
    Helios Houston, tx 02-02-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Excellent review of the road to 911"
    What did you like best about The Looming Tower? What did you like least?

    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.


    Which character – as performed by Alan Sklar – was your favorite?

    I enjoyed learning about the transition Bin Laden had in his unfortunate life.


    Any additional comments?

    Sometimes I felt like I was listening to poetry vs book on the most wanted man/men in US history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean United States 12-27-13
    Sean United States 12-27-13 Member Since 2016
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    "The Metastasizing Cancer that is Radical Islam"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Denise Long beach, ca 12-04-13
    Denise Long beach, ca 12-04-13

    online shopper

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    "Good, not great."
    What did you like best about The Looming Tower? What did you like least?

    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


    Would you be willing to try another book from Lawrence Wright? Why or why not?

    Not sure depends on subject matter


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    The performance was fine, but I did find it slightly distracting that you could tell when he was recording at different times.


    Do you think The Looming Tower needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nicholas Brooklyn, MI, United States 11-06-13
    Nicholas Brooklyn, MI, United States 11-06-13 Member Since 2011
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    "VERY informative"
    Would you listen to The Looming Tower again? Why?

    Great flow of information. I learned a lot.


    What other book might you compare The Looming Tower to and why?

    The Way of the Knife.


    Which character – as performed by Alan Sklar – was your favorite?

    Each character and their description was of great interest for me.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Walking over dollars to pick up pennies.


    Any additional comments?

    After reading The Looming Tower and The Way of the Knife, I feel an understanding of our nations information gathering techniques entirely in a different light then I did before these readings.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Chandler LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, US 05-30-13
    David Chandler LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, US 05-30-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Enables one to understand the roots of terrorism."
    If you could sum up The Looming Tower in three words, what would they be?

    A primer in the roots of terrorism.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Looming Tower?

    All.


    Have you listened to any of Alan Sklar’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, too much to digest.



    Any additional comments?

    A well researched book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Santa Maria , CA, USA 04-14-13
    Thomas Santa Maria , CA, USA 04-14-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Flipping Fantastic"
    Where does The Looming Tower rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Near the top. It really spells out how 911 came to be right from the start. Who would have thought the depth of it all.


    What other book might you compare The Looming Tower to and why?

    No Easy Day. Because that book put the period at the end of the sentence for the Looming Tower and 911.


    Which character – as performed by Alan Sklar – was your favorite?

    I have no preference.


    If you could give The Looming Tower a new subtitle, what would it be?

    Things you never knew about the road to 911.


    Any additional comments?

    My friend was listening to the book in my car and liked it so much he bought a copy so he could finish listening to it. He also was amazed and his eyes opened.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George carrollton, TX, United States 03-28-13
    George carrollton, TX, United States 03-28-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Read this book.....THIS is a religious war!"
    Would you listen to The Looming Tower again? Why?

    I never listen to any book twice.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Nearly...


    Any additional comments?

    How anyone could read this book & not understand how we've had a middle ages style religious war thrust upon us, is more than I could comprehend.
    Very riveting....scary.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anthony Jersey City, NJ, United States 02-14-13
    Anthony Jersey City, NJ, United States 02-14-13 Member Since 2008
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    "Exceptional Research and Great Storytelling"
    Where does The Looming Tower rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Among the top-ten.


    What other book might you compare The Looming Tower to and why?

    Richard Clarke's book -- I forgot the title


    Which character – as performed by Alan Sklar – was your favorite?

    N/R


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    That this story began in the US more than 50 years ago.


    Any additional comments?

    Exceptional work. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Neiburger 12-24-12 Member Since 2015

    sneib I am very shy...I love books.

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    "Informative"
    Where does The Looming Tower rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I had not realized all the looming stuff in the backround. It is spelled out perfectly.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Looming Tower?

    The amount of foreign persons in the US that wanted America destroyed.


    What does Alan Sklar bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I am a slow reader, so in audio form everything comes alive.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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