The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 Summary
Pulitzer Prize for Letters, Drama and Music, 2007
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 FBIs counterterrorism chief, John ONeill; 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 . . . ONeills heroic efforts to track al-Qaeda before 9/11, and his tragic death in the World Trade towers . . . Prince Turkis transformation from bin Ladens 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; ONeills high-wire act in balancing his all-consuming career with his equally entangling personal lifehe was living with three women, each of them unaware of the others existenceand the nitty-gritty of turf battles among U.S. intelligence agencies.