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The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 Audiobook, by Lawrence Wright Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Lawrence Wright Narrator: Alan Sklar Publisher: Tantor Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2006 ISBN: 9781400173051
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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.

Brilliantly conceived and written, The Looming Tower draws all elements of the story into a galvanizing narrative that adds immeasurably to our understanding of how we arrived at September 11, 2001. The richness of its new information, and the depth of its perceptions, can help us deal more wisely and effectively with the continuing terrorist threat. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • Wright's interview-fueled, character-driven approach captures...the complexity of individual actors...as well as the fluid internal dynamics of the often covert terrorist organization.... A perceptive and intense page-turner. Booklist Starred Review
  • “A detailed, heart-stopping account of the events leading up to 9/11, written with style and verve.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “An important, gripping, and profoundly disheartening book.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “A perceptive and intense page-turner.”

    Booklist

Listener Reviews

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  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deirdre | 2/13/2014

    " very important read. informative and incredibly engaging "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gene | 2/11/2014

    " Highly informative and illuminating narrative of the origins of Al-Qaeda,a real primer for the uninitiated. This book is timely and fascinating. It's masterfully written and an indispensable guide to understanding radical Islamism,it's origins,objectives and zealous adherents. The perfect if not definitive 9/11 book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeff | 2/9/2014

    " Well-researched non-fictional narrative of the history of the ideas behind Al-Qaeda and its formation and their activity leading up to the 9/11 attacks. Also details the information the FBI and CIA had that would have prevented the disaster had they been willing to share intelligence. Great read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laurie | 1/31/2014

    " If you want to learn more about the beginnings of Muslim extremeism and the causes of 9/11, this is a great book to read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 J | 1/27/2014

    " More gripping than any novel I read this year or the last few. And I cannot begin to explain how angry it made me, especially over the misinformation the Bush junta and John McCan't continue to spew about the continuing causes for alarm over faith-based terrorism. Iraq linked to Al Qaeda? Secular Saddam Hussein, albeit a brutal tyrant, was the last person Bin Laden wanted to know --and he proved it by offering his mujahideen to attack Iraqi forces in Kuwait in 1991, as long as the US stayed off Saudi soil ... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brian | 1/24/2014

    " A very well written and un-emotional look at Al-Qaeda; it's history and the buildup to 9/11. It is shocking the number of chances our government had to capture/kill the al-qaeda leadership and squandered. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Matt | 1/19/2014

    " One of the most complete tellings of the full story of 9/11 you will ever come across in print. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mr. | 1/6/2014

    " Everyone, and I do mean everyone, should read this vitally important book that details the rise of Al Queda. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Janice | 12/22/2013

    " Want to give this book 10 stars. So much we didn't know. How radical islam, the muslim brotherhood got it's start. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 12/12/2013

    " Thorough accounting of the ideological battles that led to al Qaeda. Its only shortcoming was a lack of information about the hows and whys of the planners and operational details that led to 9/11. Maybe that's covered by other authors, but Wright's usual thoroughness would be illuminating there. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sean | 10/27/2013

    " Great if you know nothing about terrorism or if you feel people are treating you unfairly. Exceptionally written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alex | 6/7/2013

    " Super-informative. Fascinating, frustrating, and moving. A little hard to digest, but the writing is much more accessible than the material suggests. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 James | 1/30/2013

    " This was well-deserving of the enormous praise already heaped upon it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeffcolli | 1/13/2013

    " An outstanding history of the rise of Al-Qaeda and the key players involved the lead-up to 9/11 (in both American and Al-Queda linked organizations). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Matt | 9/10/2012

    " Excellent history of what lead-up to 9/11. Highly readable. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maria | 9/5/2012

    " Amazing book. All the blurbs are right on - if you want to understand how we got to 9/11, read this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ashley | 7/16/2012

    " A meticulously researched and powerfully written account of the path to 9/11. It's an upsetting story, but one that I felt compelled to better understand. And Wright does an impressive job telling it. An important -- and highly recommended -- book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gerald | 2/17/2012

    " This book is just fabulous -- marvelous piece of reporting on al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. I've used this as one of several texts for my Media & Terrorism course for several years -- it's just first-rate. It's one book I wish a large number of Americans would read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Matthew | 1/24/2012

    " Not as in depth as I had hoped. Plus, I think he spend way too much time on O'neil; as if that were the real tragedy. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Neeta | 12/5/2011

    " Excellent book! A well researched book that covers movements, heads of state, fundamentalists and events leading up to 9/11 across the world. Well written and balanced. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Benjamin | 9/21/2011

    " An excellent study of the development of al-Qaeda, up to September 11th. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Todd | 5/17/2011

    " Outstanding and eye-opening history of Al Qaeda from its origins to 9/11. There's a lot in here that hasn't been revealed before. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paul | 5/1/2011

    " Well, bin Laden's dead. This is a highly readable and incredibly informative account of who he was and the making of al-Qaeda. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amanda | 4/12/2011

    " An exhaustive, frightening, infuriating and ultimately illuminating account of the events that led to 9/11. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laurie | 3/30/2011

    " Must read for anyone who is interested in what is happening in our foreign policy. Illuminating and heartbreaking. I should have read this a long time ago, but it's never too late. "

About the Author

Lawrence Wright is a staff writer for the New Yorker and the author of two novels and ten books of nonfiction, including several New York Times bestsellers. His books have received many prizes and honors, including a Pulitzer Prize for The Looming Tower. He is also a playwright and screenwriter, and he plays keyboard in the Austin-based blues band WhoDo.

About the Narrator

Alan Sklar, a graduate of Dartmouth, has excelled in his career as a freelance voice actor. Named a Best Voice of 2009 by AudioFile magazine, his work has earned him several Earphones Awards, a Booklist Editors’ Choice Award (twice), a Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Award, and Audiobook of the Year by ForeWord magazine. He has also narrated thousands of corporate videos for clients such as NASA, Sikorsky Aircraft, IBM, Dannon, Pfizer, AT&T, and SONY.