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Paperback The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 Book

ISBN: 1400030846

ISBN13: 9781400030842

The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11

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Book Overview

NATIONAL BESTSELLER - PULITZER PRIZE WINNER - A "heart-stopping account of the events leading up to 9/11" (The New York Times Book Review), this definitive history explains in gripping detail the growth of Islamic fundamentalism, the rise of al-Qaeda, and the intelligence failures that culminated in the attacks on the World Trade Center.

In gripping narrative that spans five decades, Lawrence Wright re-creates...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Wright delivers an impressive and illuminating analysis of the madmen behind the terror

Of all the books released this year, Lawrence Wright's exhaustively researched and extraordinarily well-written The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, is one of the few must read books of 2006. Taking a more forensic approach to the personalities that make up Al-Qaeda, Wright allows the audience a better understanding into just how these jihadists became the sick, twisted, corrupt men who called for war not just against the United States, but anyone who didn't share their fundamentalist views. Wright begins his analysis by examining the lives of the two main players, Al-Zawahiri and Bin Ladin. Exhaustively interviewing hundreds who came into contact with these men, Wright develops a highly detailed understanding of what motivates these men and how they developed their tafkiri fundamentalism. Tracing their actions from childhood through the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Wright lays out the trail of Al-Qaeda's development into a terror organization that first struck in Tanzania and Kenya and later in the United States. Surprisingly, the vast amount of detail and the intricate webs of different factions and players does not slow the book down; no glossary or cast of characters is required. As time in the book moves closer towards September 2001, there is a perceptive quickening in pace until the planes hit the towers. 9/11 effectively ends the narrative on a dramatic note. Wright doesn't go into depth about the 9/11 hijackers, nor does he write an in-depth analysis of the Afghanistan War (the book ends with the escape of Al-Qaida into Pakistan after Tora Bora, and the US campaign in Afghanistan is a few pages at best). The Looming Tower is not a in-depth analysis of the policies of the US government, or the problems between the FBI and CIA, or even an attempt at understanding how Al-Qaida was able to hijack the planes and strike. The Looming Tower is more an analysis into why Zawahiri and bin Ladin decided to take action, and how men of relative privilege turned into sociopaths with an agenda so perverted that even those of their own religion denounce it. With its clear and crisp prose and its sharp eye for detail, The Looming Tower is an impressive book that should be read by anyone with an interest in the topic. One of the best books of 2006 and highly recommended. A.G. Corwin St.Louis, MO

Captivating account of events leading to 9-11

Lawrence Wright has written an utterly absorbing book that will both captivate and appall you, and not just because of his recounting of the breathtaking horrors that took place on September 11, 2001. Equally appalling is Wright's depiction of the entrenched bureaucrats at the CIA, FBI and the National Security Agency, who failed to share crucial information with one another because of petty personal differences and agency cultures that value conformity above true investigative ability. Had the CIA, in particular, released information regarding the whereabouts of several individuals who ultimately participated in the 9-11 attacks, those tragedies might well have been prevented. Reading these things was deeply painful for me, who watched the Trade Towers collapse as I sped across Queens trying to get home to my family in Brooklyn Heights. I can only imagine how distressing this experience might be to those who lost friends and loved ones in the attacks that day. Yet Wright has handled this difficult material in a way that makes it bearable to read, and his pacing of the story is masterful. The Looming Tower reads like a suspense novel at times and the writing is lyrical. The book is also chock full of pertinent facts and background material that help make sense, insofar as that is even possible, of the motivations of the terrorists. I have never seen logic in the tactics of al Qaeda and similar groups, but this book has helped me understand that logic is not the driving force. Rather it seems to be history, the pursuit of a tribal conception of "honor" and a desire to recreate past glory that is far more important than logic. Wright connects those dots to paint a picture of the "terrorist" that is far more three-dimensional than the one that Bush Administration officials and the media have given us. There are also a number of oddball facts and anecdotes that enliven The Looming Tower and add to its interest. For example, Wright relates a tidbit that highlights the so-called "clash of cultures" better than anything I've read to date: "[Jamal al-Fadl] would become al-Qaeda's first traitor. He offered to sell his story to various intelligence agencies in the Middle East, including the Israelis. He eventually found a buyer when he walked into the American Embassy in Eritrea in June 1996. In return for nearly $1 million, he became a government witness. While in protective custody, he won the New Jersey Lottery." There are lots of other gems in this book, including some nearly unbelievable tales about John O'Neill, who would be the hero (or perhaps anti-hero) of Wright's book, if it had a hero, which it doesn't. You should really buy The Looming Tower right away and read it for yourself.

Waking Up to the Nightmare of Al-Qaeda

In Lawrence Wright's masterpiece The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, he effortlessly connects disparate puzzle pieces of our current clash with Islamofascism with a coherent, page-turning narrative that at time reads like a Robert Ludlum suspense novel. He begins with FBI operative Dan Coleman who finds terrifying evidence in 1996 that there is an organization, Al-Qaeda, that is hell-bent on destroying America and spreading Islamofascism throughout the world. His superiors find Coleman's claims "too bizarre, too primitive and exotic" and fail to take action. In other words, the Western imagination cannot comprehend the Islamofascist mentality. It is Wright's objective to get inside, to the very core, of Al-Qaeda's chief figures and show us how they feel humiliated by the successes of the West, including Israel, and how this humiliation, plus a great deal of sexual repression, animates their obsession with becoming "martyrs for Allah." Lawrence Wright achieves his objective masterfully and leaves a terrifying, indelible imprint on the reader. Having read dozens of "9/11" books, I can say this is my favorite. The book succeeds for several reasons. First, it shows the failure of American imagination in dealing with terrorism. Second, Wright's narratives leading to 9/11 are effortlessly woven with concrete (never academic) psychological profiles of the seeds of Al-Qaeda: We see the fastidious, sexually repressed Egyptian anti-Semite religious scholar Sayyid Qutb as he navigates post World War II America. He is disgusted by our freedom and equality for women and his disgust radicalizes him so that he returns to Egypt to support a radical theocracy movement that thrives to this day. We see Bin Laden's number two man, Al-Zawahiri, one of Qutb's acolytes, a complex intellectual who consolidates all his brilliance and energies to become a cold-blooded killer. We see of course Bin Laden himself and the historical roots of his hatred for the West. A complex, nuanced intelligent book, The Looming Tower does not demonize Islam. To the contrary, it shows that mainstream Islam has struggled against extremists spawned by the post World War II writings of militant Islam jihadist founder Sayyid Qutb. What is most amazing about this book is that Wright's ability to get inside the head of a terrorist with the narrative speed of thriller novel allows us to comprehend the terrorist's motivations and to wake up from a deep sleep that has imperiled us.

The Plot Against The World Trade Center

There has been a numerous books published on the events concerning 9-11. Three of the best were published in 2002 : 1). "The Age of Sacred Terror" by Daniel Benjamin & Steve Simon; 2). "Out of the Blue" by Richard Bernstein; and 3). "The Cell" by John Miller. The first explored Islamic fundamentalism while the latter two examined the actual 9-11 plot and America's institutional failings. All three had the drawbacks of being "instant history." Mr. Wright has the advantages of five years perspective with more information available to him. "The Looming Tower" follows the well-known facts of the 9-11 plot -- where it differs is in the amount of detail provided by his interviews and research in fleshing out the 9-11 plot. At nearly 500 pages, it is longer than most other 9-11 books but written in a readable, can't-put-it-down style. Mr. Wright presents the best portrait of the doomed FBI agent John O'Neill since "The Cell." This book is one to have on your bookshelf.

The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 Mentions in Our Blog

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