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

by

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

ISBN13: 9781400030842
ISBN10: 1400030846
Condition: Standard
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Awards

National Book Award Finalist

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"Wright, a New Yorker writer, brings exhaustive research and delightful prose to one of the best books yet on the history of terrorism. He begins with the observation that, despite an impressive record of terror and assassination, post-WWarII, Islamic militants failed to establish theocracies in any Arab country. Many helped Afghanistan resist the Russian invasion of 1979 before their unemployed warriors stepped up efforts at home. Al-Qaeda, formed in Afghanistan in 1988 and led by Osama bin Laden, pursued a different agenda, blaming America for Islam's problems. Less wealthy than believed, bin Laden's talents lay in organization and PR, Wright asserts. Ten years later, bin Laden blew up U.S. embassies in Africa and the destroyer Cole, opening the floodgates of money and recruits. Wright's step-by-step description of these attacks reveals that planning terror is a sloppy business, leaving a trail of clues that, in the case of 9/11, raised many suspicions among individuals in the FBI, CIA and NSA. Wright shows that 9/11 could have been prevented if those agencies had worked together. As a fugitive, bin Ladin's days as a terror mastermind may be past, but his success has spawned swarms of imitators. This is an important, gripping and profoundly disheartening book." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"A towering achievement. One of the best and more important books of recent years. Lawrence Wright has dug deep into and written well a story every American should know. A masterful combination of reporting and writing." Dan Rather

Review:

"Lawrence Wright provides a graceful and remarkably intimate set of portraits of the people who brought us 9/11. It is a tale of extravagant zealotry and incessant bumbling that would be merely absurd if the consequences were not so grisly." Gary Sick

Review:

"At once wrenchingly intimate and boldly sweeping in its historical perspective... a narrative history that possesses all the immediacy and emotional power of a novel." Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

Review:

"Mr. Wright provides a cohesive narrative tying together what previously seemed to be loose ends. But he is wise enough to know that although he presents a version of horrifying truth, the full truth might be more horrifying still." Dallas Morning News

Review:

"Lawrence Wright's integrity and diligence as a reporter shine through every page of this riveting narrative." Robert A. Caro

Review:

"What a riveting tale Lawrence Wright fashions in this marvelous book....The portrait of John O'Neill, the driven, demon-ridden F.B.I. agent who worked so frantically to stop Osama bin Laden, only to perish in the attack on the World Trade Center, is worth the price of the book alone." Dexter Filkins, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"If journalism is history's first draft, The Looming Tower is a good but still flawed second draft." Oregonian

Review:

"Wright's book, with a 10-page bibliography and a list of more than 400 people he interviewed, stands as the current definitive history on the subject among the pile of 9/11 books that grows daily." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Review:

"The reporting...is so good that it will matter in 100 years. Wright's determined, disciplined work has made his book indispensable." Cleveland Plain Dealer

Synopsis:

National Book Award Finalist

A Time, Newsweek, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and New York Times Book Review Best Book of the Year

A gripping narrative that spans five decades, The Looming Tower explains in unprecedented detail the growth of Islamic fundamentalism, the rise o al-Qaeda, and the intelligence failures that culminated in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Lawrence Wright re-creates firsthand the transformation of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri from incompetent and idealistic soldiers in Afghanistan to leaders of the most successful terrorist group in history. He follows FBI counterterrorism chief John O’Neill as he uncovers the emerging danger from al-Qaeda in the 1990s and struggles to track this new threat. Packed with new information and a deep historical perspective, The Looming Tower is the definitive history of the long road to September 11.

Synopsis:

UPDATED AND WITH A NEW AFTERWORD

National Book Award Finalist

A Time, Newsweek, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and New York Times Book Review Best Book of the Year

A gripping narrative that spans five decades, The Looming Tower explains in unprecedented 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. Lawrence Wright re-creates firsthand the transformation of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri from incompetent and idealistic soldiers in Afghanistan to leaders of the most successful terrorist group in history. He follows FBI counterterrorism chief John O’Neill as he uncovers the emerging danger from al-Qaeda in the 1990s and struggles to track this new threat. Packed with new information and a deep historical perspective, The Looming Tower is the definitive history of the long road to September 11.

About the Author

Lawrence Wright graduated from Tulane University and spent two years teaching at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. He is a staff writer for The New Yorker and a fellow at the Center on Law and Security at New York University School of Law. The author of five works of nonfiction — City Children, Country Summer; In the New World; Saints and Sinners; Remembering Satan; and Twins — he has also written a novel, God's Favorite, and was cowriter of the movie The Siege. He and his wife are longtime residents of Austin, Texas.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

lukas, September 12, 2011 (view all comments by lukas)
With the recent tenth anniversary of 9/11, it should be said that any thinking American who wants to make sense of the history leading up to the attacks needs to read this book. It's tremendously informative, compelling to read and may be the definitive book on the subject. If we seek to remember, we must also seek to understand.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
KH28, March 23, 2010 (view all comments by KH28)
Excellent. The Looming Tower is an excellent narrative history of the events leading up to the September 11th terror attacks and will hopefully be required reading for any course on the subject.

I had no idea how many knowledge gaps that I had about Al-Qaeda and Bin Laden and the U.S.' activities in the Middle East preceeding the terror attacks. I never made the connection between the presence of U.S. soldiers in the Gulf after the first Gulf War and our humanitarian mission in Somalia that ended so tragically. It was enlightening to see how a 'thankless humanitarian mission', (Wright's quote) one intended to relieve the suffering of the people of Somalia, could be spun so insidiously. Shocking, was Bin Laden's role in propping up Bashir's rule in Sudan, and the fact that the Taliban didn't really want him, but thought that he might be able to give Afghanistan the infrastructure he had given to Sudan that they desperately needed after 30 years of war. Wright's book draws a clear line from the British presence in Egypt during the second world war to the rise of the Oil state in the Middle East in the 70's to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the first Gulf War, Black Hawk Down, the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole and the September 11th attacks. Thsi book is highly recommended for everyone interested in understanding the war on terror.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781400030842
Author:
Wright, Lawrence
Publisher:
Vintage Books USA
Subject:
Modern - 20th Century
Subject:
Political Freedom & Security - Terrorism
Subject:
United States - 21st Century
Subject:
Political Freedom & Security - Intelligence
Subject:
World History-General
Subject:
history;terrorism;middle east;non-fiction;politics;islam;al qaeda;afghanistan;current affairs;osama bin laden;saudi arabia;current events;american history;fbi;cia;pulitzer prize;usa;war;war on terror;pulitzer;egypt;foreign policy;world trade center;religi
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage
Publication Date:
20070931
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
16 PP. BandW; 1 MAP
Pages:
576
Dimensions:
8.05x5.31x1.20 in. 1.25 lbs.

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Related Subjects


History and Social Science » Military » Espionage
History and Social Science » Military » Recent Military History
History and Social Science » Politics » Covert Government and Conspiracy Theory
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » World History » General

The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.95 In Stock
Product details 576 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9781400030842 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Wright, a New Yorker writer, brings exhaustive research and delightful prose to one of the best books yet on the history of terrorism. He begins with the observation that, despite an impressive record of terror and assassination, post-WWarII, Islamic militants failed to establish theocracies in any Arab country. Many helped Afghanistan resist the Russian invasion of 1979 before their unemployed warriors stepped up efforts at home. Al-Qaeda, formed in Afghanistan in 1988 and led by Osama bin Laden, pursued a different agenda, blaming America for Islam's problems. Less wealthy than believed, bin Laden's talents lay in organization and PR, Wright asserts. Ten years later, bin Laden blew up U.S. embassies in Africa and the destroyer Cole, opening the floodgates of money and recruits. Wright's step-by-step description of these attacks reveals that planning terror is a sloppy business, leaving a trail of clues that, in the case of 9/11, raised many suspicions among individuals in the FBI, CIA and NSA. Wright shows that 9/11 could have been prevented if those agencies had worked together. As a fugitive, bin Ladin's days as a terror mastermind may be past, but his success has spawned swarms of imitators. This is an important, gripping and profoundly disheartening book." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "A towering achievement. One of the best and more important books of recent years. Lawrence Wright has dug deep into and written well a story every American should know. A masterful combination of reporting and writing."
"Review" by , "Lawrence Wright provides a graceful and remarkably intimate set of portraits of the people who brought us 9/11. It is a tale of extravagant zealotry and incessant bumbling that would be merely absurd if the consequences were not so grisly."
"Review" by , "At once wrenchingly intimate and boldly sweeping in its historical perspective... a narrative history that possesses all the immediacy and emotional power of a novel."
"Review" by , "Mr. Wright provides a cohesive narrative tying together what previously seemed to be loose ends. But he is wise enough to know that although he presents a version of horrifying truth, the full truth might be more horrifying still."
"Review" by , "Lawrence Wright's integrity and diligence as a reporter shine through every page of this riveting narrative."
"Review" by , "What a riveting tale Lawrence Wright fashions in this marvelous book....The portrait of John O'Neill, the driven, demon-ridden F.B.I. agent who worked so frantically to stop Osama bin Laden, only to perish in the attack on the World Trade Center, is worth the price of the book alone."
"Review" by , "If journalism is history's first draft, The Looming Tower is a good but still flawed second draft."
"Review" by , "Wright's book, with a 10-page bibliography and a list of more than 400 people he interviewed, stands as the current definitive history on the subject among the pile of 9/11 books that grows daily."
"Review" by , "The reporting...is so good that it will matter in 100 years. Wright's determined, disciplined work has made his book indispensable."
"Synopsis" by , National Book Award Finalist

A Time, Newsweek, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and New York Times Book Review Best Book of the Year

A gripping narrative that spans five decades, The Looming Tower explains in unprecedented detail the growth of Islamic fundamentalism, the rise o al-Qaeda, and the intelligence failures that culminated in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Lawrence Wright re-creates firsthand the transformation of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri from incompetent and idealistic soldiers in Afghanistan to leaders of the most successful terrorist group in history. He follows FBI counterterrorism chief John O’Neill as he uncovers the emerging danger from al-Qaeda in the 1990s and struggles to track this new threat. Packed with new information and a deep historical perspective, The Looming Tower is the definitive history of the long road to September 11.

"Synopsis" by , UPDATED AND WITH A NEW AFTERWORD

National Book Award Finalist

A Time, Newsweek, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and New York Times Book Review Best Book of the Year

A gripping narrative that spans five decades, The Looming Tower explains in unprecedented 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. Lawrence Wright re-creates firsthand the transformation of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri from incompetent and idealistic soldiers in Afghanistan to leaders of the most successful terrorist group in history. He follows FBI counterterrorism chief John O’Neill as he uncovers the emerging danger from al-Qaeda in the 1990s and struggles to track this new threat. Packed with new information and a deep historical perspective, The Looming Tower is the definitive history of the long road to September 11.

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