The Looming Tower

The Looming Tower

Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11

Book - 2006
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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 : Knopf, c2006
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780375414862
037541486X
Branch Call Number: 973.931 WRI
Characteristics: 469 p., [16] p. of plates :,ill., maps ;,25 cm

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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.

s
StarGladiator
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!

m
Myusernamenotyours
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.

a
adhivul1
Jun 17, 2010

excellent bk, explaining where, geographically, psychologically and ideologically Osama bin-laden comes from and is particularly good on the background the Egyptians who influenced him so thoroughly. I always thought he was rich, which he was at the beginning, but he was thoroughly fleeced in Somalia and for a time in Afghanistan was really poor.
it is also good on detailing the American intelligence community, the FBI, CIA and others (who it turns out where not very intelligent) and how they messed up so 9/11 succeeded even beyond Osama's expectations.

c
crowpluto
Sep 07, 2006

This is a facinating book that is, in parts, can't-put-down good. Especially once you get past the early chapters on historical Muslim thinkers, the origins of Al Queda - from early warnings to Afghanistan and on - is great reading. Highly recommended, but only if you've got some time.

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