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The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 | [Lawrence Wright]

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

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  •  
    Peter Cowen Los Angeles 01-25-11
    Peter Cowen Los Angeles 01-25-11 Listener Since 2009

    book buyer

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "In depth analysis of Al Queda & our Intel Agencies"

    Very good perspective about the events leading up to 9/11, the dysfuntion of our intelligence agencies and a good insight into the 2 key figures of Al Queda and how they started and how long they have been around and a feel for how formidable they are. Very relevant and eye opening. Worth the read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pete Mypaycheck SE Michigan 11-25-10
    Pete Mypaycheck SE Michigan 11-25-10 Listener Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    32
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    47
    23
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    "Enlightening"

    It's nice to see that al-qaeda is subject to the same backbiting, backstabbing, and dissent that any corporation in America is prone to. It's also important for Americans to understand how systemic failures on the part of our government lead to the disaster that was 9/11.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sue turek 11-19-10
    sue turek 11-19-10 Member Since 2013
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    REVIEWS
    2
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    "Know your enemy"

    I compare this book to a book written years ago called "Case Closed", about the JFK assasination. The author studied in depth Lee Harvey Oswald then proceeded to squash all conspiracy theories. You walk away confident Oswald acted alone.
    Lawrence Wright does the same with Osama bin Laden. You wonder what in god's name we're doing in Iraq. It also highlights the incompetency of the CIA.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol Oak Ridge, NJ, United States 10-24-10
    Carol Oak Ridge, NJ, United States 10-24-10 Member Since 2014
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    "Good Information"

    The recent history of the Middle East is enormously complex and this book helps make it clearer. I appreciate the reader since his voice is neutral - it doesn't dominate the text as other reader's voices can.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Arlington, TN, United States 08-22-10
    Scott Arlington, TN, United States 08-22-10 Member Since 2009
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    "Good basic primer on the origins of radical Islam"

    This book is a real eye opener. It traces its origin to the origins of radical Islam itself and then follows the path to the 9/11 attacks. The story takes you meeting by meeting along the paths of both sides in this story. You get to go inside AQ meetings and hear who said what to whom, then moments later, you are inside the struggles of the FBI and CIA trying to deal with the "Wall" separating the Intel from the Law Enforcement entities in our government. Lawrence Wright looks to have done some homework on this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    steve Clovis, CA, United States 08-10-10
    steve Clovis, CA, United States 08-10-10 Member Since 2015
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    "brilliant"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan 07-26-10
    Jonathan 07-26-10 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "A must listen!"

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Seattle, WA, United States 05-31-10
    James Seattle, WA, United States 05-31-10 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wow... If We Only Would Learn From History!"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert 03-29-10
    Robert 03-29-10 Listener Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Very insightful, but..."

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacob Orem, UT, USA 03-14-10
    Jacob Orem, UT, USA 03-14-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "Very informational"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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