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

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

by Lawrence Wright

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

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Book Summary

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.

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  • award image Pulitzer Prize for Letters, Drama and Music, 2007

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. This is an important, gripping and profoundly disheartening book. " - PW

"Wright seems to have found his calling: a perceptive and intense page-turner, this selection and Peter Bergen's The Osama bin Laden I Know (2006) should be considered the definitive works on the topic." - Booklist

"A comprehensive and compelling account of the events preceding and causing 9/11...essential for an understanding of that dreadful day." - Kirkus

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