The Looming Tower

The Looming Tower

Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11

Book - 2018
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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 ... 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. Brilliantly conceived and written, The Looming Tower draws all elements of the story into a galvanizing narrative that adds immeasurably to our understanding of how we arrived at September 11, 2001. The richness of its new information, and the depth of its perceptions, can help us deal more wisely and effectively with the continuing terrorist threat.
Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc., [2018]
Copyright Date: �©2006
ISBN: 9780525564362 (paperback)
0525564365 (paperback)
Branch Call Number: 973.931 WRI
Characteristics: 550 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 21 cm


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Jan 23, 2020

This Pulitzer Prize winner is a dense read. But well worth every minute. The gripping story, and meticulous research leave the reader informed and able to better understand the events leading up to 9/11 and the political, cultural and religious upheavals/unrest. It reveals something of the thinking that would lead young, educated, and in some cases wealthy men to undertake suicide to randomly disrupt of lives of innocents. A situation which has always personally unsettled and puzzled me.

It uncovers the human and organizational errors and problems existing in the USA at this time that lead the country's leaders to colossally fail it's citizens. And to keep failing them to this day.

It reveals staggering suffering.

The message is not be discouraged and reactive. Be educated and thoughtful.

Thank you Lawrence Wright for this insight into our global village.

I too had to request this book twice, as the usual borrowing time is far too limited for literary gem.

Nov 29, 2018

Excellent book. (a little tough to read within a 21-day "borrow")
This book, and Ali Soufan's The Black Banners, not only tells the OBL story but also a great insight into the Middle East and the Muslim world.

Jul 22, 2018

It's easy to say, "The book was better."
It is.
We talk of this global war on terror, when it isn't. Here, Lawrence Wright well-researches and explains the long, slow journey across the desert sands, from the emergence of oil, through the creation of the Kingdom of Saud, to the rise of Western influence and culture, and the impact this has not just on Sunni internal conflicts over the fate of the faith and faithful, but of their angst over their position in this world and even their standing with the Shi'a and others.
Wright does well in explaining that bin Laden wasn't some masterful tactician, some critically important commander the US faced. He explains - carefully, in detail, and with thorough sourcing - that bin Laden had faith and resources, and conviction to act on both.
Wright was awarded the Pulitzer for this, for a clear reason - it's that good.
Make time for this - over binge watching more TV.

BookReviewer2015 Jun 28, 2018

An excellent and well researched book that explains how and why 9/11 happened. Really gets at the root of it all. Check out the recent Hulu miniseries too.

BklynAmyM Aug 30, 2016

Anyone struggling to understand developments in the Middle East should add this to your "must read" list. Although the characters, events and circumstances pile up at an overwhelming rate, this history of terrorism from New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright is an achievement of narrative nonfiction.

Aw_19 Jun 10, 2016

Excellent book. The author did an impressive amount of researching and interview of principal participants in the events leading up to 9/11. This work provides an insightful perspective on how such a horrific tragedy was possible. It's also quite compelling written. Highly recommended.

Jul 17, 2013

"...the failures of the FBI, CIA, and NSA to share intelligence that might have prevented the 9/11 attacks." I have some major problems with this book, in fact, many major problems with it. First, what separates those "failures" from what exists today: full spectrum domestic surveillance - - yet, we still have major crime and organized crime in America - - yet, they still claim they don't "have enough" to go after the banksters, and on and on and on, and so it goes. "..he (O'Neill) was living with three women, each of them unaware of the others' existence." Sure, we can trust everything O'Neill was involved with???? This book just sounds like the stringing together of all the official "conspiracy theories" - - but since Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush were proven wrong, what are we really to believe? Certainly not Prince Turki al-Faisal, of Saudi Arabia, when at least 15 of the 19 (and in all probability, given the false Yemeni passports, all 19 of 19) hijackers came from his country, Saudi Arabia!

Jul 16, 2013

Must-read. Lawrence Wright's journalism skills, narrative skills, and fact-checking skills combine to tell a highly readable and highly educational story of some of the more nefarious Muslim hate-filled nutjobs of late and how some of them got that way. America's sacred separation of church and state is the opposite of Islamists who want their countries run not by informed democracies but by guys (never women) who want religious homogeneity, and after reading this book, you will realize why separation of church and state is so crucial to a free and enlightened democratic republic. Yes, the story of the Islamic nutjobs in Looming Towers is the same sad story as a number of world religions that have wormholed through the short history of our earth's civilization -- often by death and murder -- but Looming Towers tells the reader all about the current Gestapo: intolerant Islamists.

voisjoe1 Mar 20, 2012

A great study of the men who flew planes into the buildings in the 9/11 attacks. Plus a tale of those men that sent them and those men who almost broke up the plot.

debwalker Feb 08, 2011

Suggests that Mubarak's torture cells radicalized Egyptian Islamists.

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