The Looming Tower

For anyone interested in the genesis of 9/11, Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 provides a fascinating read. Wright’s book reads like a thriller, yet one with an obvious tragic ending.

Wright’s recounting of the numerous mistakes made by the CIA and FBI as well as the missed opportunities to prevent the World Trade Center attacks engender frustration. And though he doesn’t spend much time on the actual day itself (the book, as it title suggests, is really about the “road” leading up to that tragic day), his description of 9/11 is profoundly moving.

    In so many respects, the Trade Center dead formed a kind of universal parliament, representing sixty-two countries and nearly every ethnic group and religion in the world. There was an ex-hippie stockbroker, the gay Catholic chaplain of the New York City Fire Department, a Japanese hockey player, an Ecuadoran sous chef, a Barbie Doll collector, a vegetarian calligrapher, a Palestinian accountant. . . . The manifold ways in they attached to life testied to the Quarnic injunction that the taking of a single life destroys a universe. Al-Qaeda had aimed its attacks at America, but it struck all of humanity.

The Looming Tower wil anger, frustrate and especially educate. And for that, above all, Wright’s book is essential reading.

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