The Looming Tower definitely deserved its Pulitzer Prize. I have read a few post 9/11 histories and some are better than others. Lawrence Wright has put together a very solid piece, with what was, for me, new information.
Wright does a great job of puling biographies of four men together to really paint a picture the evolution and eventual fact of the 9/11 disaster. He starts with Sayyid Qatb, a repressed Egyptian Muslim who is the philosophical underpinning of one of the key figures in 9/11, Ayman al-Zawahiri. He also does a great job of telling the life story Zawahiri, another repressed fanatic, who was tortured in jail after his organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, was involved in the assassination of Anwar Sadat for this secular government and repression of religious fanatics. And finally, John O'Neill, the obsessed playboy FBI agent who was the lead investigator in the Cole explosion and knew something big was going to happen with Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden.
This work is a crucifixion of the internecine warfare among American law enforcement and intelligence agencies tasked with protecting America with their turf warfare and lack of information sharing. It is beyond painfully clear that bureaucracy, jealously, and ineptitude not only contributed to 9/11, but ensured that it would happen. And it also paints a dim psychological portrait of the men behind the 9/11 attack and their perversion of the Muslim religion to suit their own warped worldview. The mostly subtle psychology of terrorism, at least terrorism among this group, is believable and frightening. Frightening because such previsions can be so successfully persuasive among those who would follow their lead.
This is a solid work on some of the background the root factors leading up the 9/11 and highly recommended.
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Doug Baker (cdbaker)
Avid reader and football fan.
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