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)
Yes, it opens your eyes to the real history of radical islam
The Rise and fall of the Third Riech
That Islam is a threat to all free people and only understands strength
If you are interested in Middle Eastern history as it pertains to terrorism, then this is your main read. This is the book by which all others in this genre should be compared.
A former history professor once said to me that historians have the disadvantage of hindsight and that since we know what actually happened we must strive to account for that when arriving at our conclusions. This book put that statement to the test for me as I listened. Wonderfully narrated, this intricate story depicting the rise of a fragile and hated group lays bare both the ferocity and ineptness of human beings as a species as we hear about the origins, assumptions and activities of what will be known as Al Qaeda. This book is highly recommended.
This is a must read if you want to better understand the history of muslim fundamentalism , 9/11 and the events that followed. I was amazed at my own ignorance and found the book engrosing.. These are people and events that have and will continue to affect the way we live. All you have to do is go to an airport to be reminded.
The first half is a little slow, which is why I'm not giving 5 stars. But this is an amazing look into all of the screw ups that lead to 9/11.
Runner, Commuter, Dietitian with a passion for U.S. History.
A highly readable version of the events of the 9-11 report with more skilled character development than much of popular fiction. My only problem was keeping the arabic names and minor players straight.
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.
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.
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.
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