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The Looming Tower [Kindle Edition]

Lawrence Wright
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (504 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.95
Kindle Price: $8.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

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.




From the Trade Paperback edition.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred 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. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

The Looming Tower may be the most riveting, informative, and "heart-stopping account" yet of the men who shaped 9/11 (New York Times Book Review). The focus on individuals gives the book its emotional punch, but it is also a narrative bold in conception and historical sweep. Lawrence Wright conducted more than 500 interviews, from bin Laden's best friend in college to Richard A. Clarke, Saudi royalty, Afghan mujahideen, and reporters for Al Jazeera. The result, while evenhanded in its analysis of the complex motives, ideals, and power plays that led to 9/11, leaves few nefarious details uncovered. An abrupt ending did little to sway critics that Looming Tower is nothing less than "indispensable" reading (Cleveland Plain Dealer).

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
148 of 155 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating account of events leading to 9-11 September 3, 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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.
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487 of 540 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Waking Up to the Nightmare of Al-Qaeda August 10, 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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. Read more ›
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377 of 423 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lecture about the book September 29, 2006
By John
Format:Hardcover
I saw the author last night at a book signing/lecture, and wrote down some of his main points. I hope it is o.k. with him that I share them here, and what he said, because I found if very fascinating. Mr. Wright is a very intelligent, "gentle" man who obviously cares about things and people, and I found him very likeable, becuase he has a good sense of humor and he did so much research for this book, and travelled extensively. He said he interviewed over 1,000 people in the Arab world for this book.

Some of the main points of what he said:

- The Arabic world is incredibly insular. He said, if you take away oil, the entire Arab world, from Morocco to Pakistan, produces less economically than the Finnish company Nokia (Nokia has less than 8,000 employees). He said, there have been 10,000 books ever translated into Arabic. If you think about that in terms of how many rows of book stacks that would be at a bookstore, it is shocking (I calculate that to be a few stacks of books !). One single Borders in the U.S. thus contains far more books than have ever been translated by Arabic translators (Spain alone translates about 10,000 books a year). Thus, most Arabs are, for our standards, incredibly lacking in resources, to understand our world. Not only that, but their countries censor books and all media. Freedom to assemble basically does not exist in the Arab world, and thus, basic freedoms are lacking.

- There is "gender apartheid" in [most of] the Arab world (particularly Saudi Arabia). Women are mostly not seen in public in Saudi Arabia. Men know very little about women as a result (how to meet them ?). It is pathetic, how little young men know about women.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good read.
Published 1 day ago by Valerie Alwood
5.0 out of 5 stars Those who do not study history ....
are doomed to repeat it. If "the very hungry caterpillar" is not available at your local library try this.
Published 1 day ago by Chief Screw-Up
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for understanding the "war on terror"
Exceptionally well written, must-read book for anyone who wants to understand the roots of the fundamentalist/rabid Islamic movement. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Matt Gilmartin
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Exactly what I wanted. Thanls
Published 3 days ago by Liz Polanco
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Introduction to what motivates the zealots
There is probably no better introduction to the history and motivations of the Arab Middle East. Too many names to remember, but if you wan to understand what motivates this... Read more
Published 3 days ago by S. Aiello
5.0 out of 5 stars I would like to see an update
A very through re-visit of the major players, their ideas and actions. I would like to see an update.
Published 5 days ago by Edward B Tunstall
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat confusing
Well written and factual. Somewhat confusing due to character/names that are not familiar
Published 7 days ago by Steven R. Wyte
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous history of the development of Al-Queda and the terrorist's...
Marvelous history of the development of Al-Queda and the terrorist's evolution leading to the masterminds of 9/11 along with the difficulty of intelligence agencies to accept the... Read more
Published 9 days ago by harry
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read!
What an incredible book! The author did a masterful job of keeping a complex story, very interesting throughout the whole book. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Alan Castillejo
5.0 out of 5 stars One the Most Important Books I Have Ever Read.
My title , is my review. If you truly want to understand radical Islam, this is the road map. Do not spent another day in the dark or uniformed.
Published 10 days ago by Braeda Libby
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#91 in Books > History


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Topic From this Discussion
Any books similiar to Looming Tower that continue its story?
I think he wanted nonfiction
Jul 31, 2013 by don't bother |  See all 3 posts
Looming Limited Hangout: one more cover-up. Read 9/11 Synthetic Terror...
Lawrence Wright vividly reconstruct the origins and evolution of Islam's confrontation with America, a path that goes from the rise of the US as a global superpower to the morining of September 11, 2001.

His will become one of the essential books to understand what really happened on that day.
Aug 8, 2006 by F. D. Montano |  See all 7 posts
2011 Looking to Catch-Up Be the first to reply
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