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The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11by Lawrence Wright
Synopses & Reviews
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.
Exploring both the American and Arab sides of the September 11th terrorist attacks interweaves the stories of four men--Al Qaeda leaders Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden, FBI counterrorism head John O'Neill, and Prince Turki al-Faisal, former chief of Saudi intelligence--in the story of the people, ideas, events, and intelligence failures that led to the attacks. 40,000 first printing.
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.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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.
Table of Contents
The martyr. — The sporting club. — The founder. — Change. — The miracles. — The base. — Return of the hero. — Paradise. — The Silicon Valley. — Paradise lost. — The prince of darkness. — The boy spies. — Hijira. — Going operational. — Bread and water. — "Now it begins" — The new millennium. — Boom. — The big wedding. — Revelations. — Principal characters.
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