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 must read for those trying to understand current events and what the western world is up against. No matter your political persuasion this is a book that must be read and reflected upon.
Fantastic overview of the history of extremist thought in Islamic culture. There is genuine insight into the attacks on 9-11 but the real core of the book is in giving historical context to political situation that surrounds those who so hated western culture.
If you have ever wondered about the deeper story when the media discusses how certain groups want to kill Amercia etc. then this is for you.
It manages to carry a nicely objective stance throughout always feels like it's laying out the facts and not pushing any agenda other than education.
I really liked the incredible detail that was revealed in this amazing book. I was completely horrified at how the Muslims in this book used their religion to justify mass murder. I would recommend this book to anyone who is trying to understand wars in the Middle East. It is rare to listen to a book that has so much detail. May the power of good overcome this evil.
Even eight years past its publication, The Looming Tower represents the seminal work for understanding how Al Qaeda came to be the deadliest terror network to attack the United States.
It also dissects the unfortunate and ultimately fateful unwillingness or inability of too many American agencies to work together toward the common goal of stopping these killers.
And heartbreaking as the thousands of men and women killed by Al Qaeda are remembered as the innocents they were.
The details compiled by Wright make for a fascinating look into the radical Islamic world. It also shows the depth of our government's ineptitude to work together before 9/11. Great read.
Probably not. Multiple errors of omission and political bias were obvious in describing the last 10 years leading to 9-11. Author tried to protect the Clinton Democratic administration by omitting facts reported by the bipartisan 9-11 commission and other sources that were critical of that administration's anti terror policies while attempting to place more burden of blame on the newly elected Republican administration who were still filling government positions and reviewing past Clinton policies when 9-11 occurred. The primary planning and motivation for 9-11 type attacks occurred Prior to the Bush Administration settling into office and the failure to apprehend or eliminate Bin Laden prior to 9-11 were the result of Clinton's lack of urgency and political posturing.The author also seemed to unduly idolize a top FBI official who led the pursuit of Muslim terror suspects prior to 9-11 and later died while security chief of the World Trade Center Complex during the attack. Yet this agent's history included having multiple affairs on his wife, having affairs on his affairs, multiple serious security violations at the agency, a brash self-serving personality, heavily in debt and as a result should have lost his top security clearances, an ego the size of the Towers, and on and on. He never caught Bin Laden and quit/retired from the FBI in order to take a much higher paying position with the World Trade Center Organization which soon after was totally destroyed by the terrorists that he was supposedly so good at pursuing. If this guy is the authors self-described hero then it makes me wonder about the authors judge of character and reality based research and writing. He seems to be the type of author who cherry picks historical facts to build a case history that supports his biased political views while leaving out the "inconvenient truths".Oh well, just another source to add to my 9-11 understanding, even though this author appeared to have an agenda.
How government failed to protect its citizens.
will not search for other books from this author. I want a more complete and balanced history, not a revisionist one.
A comprehensive accounting of the complex story that lead to 9/11. Lawrence Wright's deft writing and astonishingly in-depth reporting answered so many of my questions and left me with a lump in my stomach. The number of conditions that arose and their interplay that results in a new level of terrorism is laid out masterfully. I enjoy listening to Lawrence Wright's Southern drawl and was concerned that I may not appreciate the narrator's performance - but he was excellent.
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