☀ The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 PDF / Epub ✍ Author Lawrence Wright – Freepe.co

Wherever you are, death will find you, even in the looming tower The Qu ran, Sura 4 78 Hiraba , the Arabic word for terror, piracy, or unlawful warfare To be punished with the strictest penalties SEE the young men in their white tunics go out, and charge from the trenches against Soviet tanks, and the suited FBI and CIA men squabble on matters of jurisdiction and sensitive information , and self appointed holy men and saviors meditate in caves on how to save the words of prophets, and their followers drink in action movies and dream of being holy Rambos and warrior priests.Lawrence Wright has done the Western World a great service, stringing together this narrative from bloody sinews of history He retells the history and ideology of early Islamic fundamentalist internationalism, and the biographies of many chief founding fathers Ayman al Zawahiri, Muhammad Omar, Osama bin Laden From where does terrorism arise Not solely because of our freedoms, as the Bush men so stupidly proclaim, but the systematic denial and repression of their own, the lack of civil society, dictatorship, political stagnation, and poverty The view that political leadership is corrupt, and that they prostitute themselves to foreign powers Smart young men seeing the necessity of change, and choosing the most violent path possible And then we have our own American ignorance and heavy handedness contributing to our own disastrous foreign image.A necessary introduction Much is to be done. Wherever you are, death will find you, even if you are in looming towersQur an 4 78A great narrative history of the rise of al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden Wright s journalism takes the reader from Sayyid Qutb s youth to the destruction of the twin towers and includes most of the major characters both in al Qaeda, and Zawahiri s al Jihad to Saudi Arabia to the FBI, CIA, and NSA The focus of the book, however, is obviously Bin Laden and O Neill who both seem iconic symbols of radicalized Islam and the US The research and narrative of the book is impressive and even though many of these stories and ideas have been floating for years some of what I seem to have known is probably due to Wright s groundbreaking reporting in this book It was originally published in 2006 The narrative is complex and jumps back and forth across countries and cultures and institutions, but never loses the central theme and historical elements It is a masterpiece of narrative history in both focus and scale. A Sweeping Narrative History Of The Events Leading To , 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 FaisalAs 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 USSCole O Neill S Heroic Efforts To Track Al Qaeda Before , 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 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 S 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 US Intelligence AgenciesBrilliantly 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 , The Richness Of Its New Information, And The Depth Of Its Perceptions, Can Help Us Deal Wisely And Effectively With The Continuing Terrorist Threat there are the books that make our heads explode, that make every minute of the day a chinese water torture of waiting for the chance to get the hell home and read some , the books that live inside us all through the day, the books that make us excited to take a crap just so we can shut the door behind us or not and sneak in a few pages, the books which cause horn honking at red lights from drivers irritated we re reading at the fucking wheel the looming tower is one of em as riveting and compelling as any novel i ve read only on page 230 and stamping with a fiver fucking fantastic. 2007 11 600 11. Well, I finally found my notes and got this review finished long overdue.For all the energy, lives and treasure we have devoted to Iraq and Afghanistan, it s important to remember that they had nothing to do with 9 11 which became the excuse for our actions rather than the proximate rationale We are now in a war that would appear to have literally no end, this war of terror, one that any sane person who recently traveled on an airplane can see the terrorists have won as we meekly surrender our civil rights to government agencies who now can tap phones, examine library records, collect data, cavity search, etc., in the name of some illusionary sense of safety, a theater of the absurd In addition they convinced us , this tiny group of delusionary men no women , to send thousands of troops to a hostile land and environment where they could be easily picked off Wright traces the rise of anti semitism in the MIddle East to the influence of Naziism during WW II and especially afterwards when many Nazis fled to Egypt for sanctuary from the victorious allies For centuries Jews had lived quite peacefully with their Muslim neighbors, but several events fueled a return to a fundamentalist, Islamicist view The Six Day war was used by these in a rather tortured logic to validate their position, i.e that God had favored the Jews because Muslims had wandered away from the true Islam and the Caliphate This kind of perverted thinking is not unique to Islamists It s rampant among fundamentalist Christian groups such as the Westboro Baptists who insist that US military deaths are caused by God s displeasure with current U.S policies with regard to homosexuality Other examples abound The war, which an overwhelming victory for Israel, humiliated Egypt, where, following Nassar s death, Sadat needed to appeal to the fundamentalists to strengthen his government so he released many who had been jailed from prison Not a smart move.The actions of the Egyptians, following the assassination of Sadat, solidified a diverse, incoherent movement He flatly states that 9 11 was born in the torture chambers of the Egyptian government which created an appetite for revenge and turned moderates into extremists, not to mention destroyed any notion that western society actually practiced the ideals of freedom and human rights they espoused Communism, Zionism, and Imperialism were all lumped together as the great western enemy of Islam and the only solution was to use violence to try to create an Islamic theocracy By throwing all of the anti government groups together in prison, many individuals and groups which had been unaware of the other s existence were now thrown together and molded into a coherent movement Torture was an instrument of humiliation, revenge and punishment as well as information gathering and Ayman Zawahiri emerged as the new leader of the group.I was astonished how intertwined the Bin Laden family, wealthy beyond measure from lucrative construction contracts, was with Saudi government and culture That said, Osama comes across as a pathetic little man whom, for some bizarre reason, we have inflated to mythic proportions He left a long trail of words that Wright has used effectively to build a comprehensive picture of the man that Afghans, in the fight against the Russians, thought was rather pathetic, but who was adopted by the United States and supported Another example of how certain actions taken for a variety of reasons can have long range negative effects How one might ever develop the perspicuity to avoid making such mistakes remains a mystery to me.If there are any heroes in this book, it s the field officers of the FBI and one John O Neill who tragically died in the World Trade Center They had been concerned that the Islamic fundamentalists would try something spectacular but got little support from Washington One Minneapolis supervisor, admonished for his reports and concerns, simply said back to the bosses in DC that he was simply trying to keep someone from taking a plane and crashing into the World Trade Center This in August of 2001Wright has done a magnificent job of melding detail and the broader picture to present a better understanding of why we are where we are today.The title, drawn from the Koran is ironic in light of Osama s killing by American troops Wherever you are, death will find you, Even in the looming tower, a quote from one of Osama s many videos.After note Read a couple of the one star reviews on to get a feel for psychotic thinking.Previously written Therefore when you induce others to construct a formation while you yourself are formless, then you are concentrated while the opponent is divided Therefore the consummation of forming an army is to arrive at formlessness When you have no form, undercover espionage cannot find out anything, intelligence cannot form a strategy Sun Tzu, 500 B.C.For some reason, I failed to get very far into this book and was reminded of it when I read an excellent column recently at Salon regarding the costs of our obsessiveness with regard to airline security I was reminded that Wright discussed Al Qaeda strategy at some length It was quite simple Bin Laden knew he couldn t maintain an attack on U.S soil so he needed to get us to come to him And he has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams We send troops and treasure over to him to be whittled away at His first attempt to draw us in was the U.S.S Cole Clinton failed to fall into the trap as did Reagan after the 200 Marines were killed in Lebanon Bush swallowed the bait hook, line and sinker Iraq and Afghanistan have cost than a trillion dollars of borroweded money in the first unfunded war in our history And we spend hundreds of billions searching for the latest object in someone s crotch for the illusion of security Wait till someone detonates a small bomb in a TSA security line or at a McDonald s We will then lose all our freedoms in the name of maintaining an empire we cannot afford. You can be nerdy and geeky and boring about all manner of things, railway timetables, cricket, fine wine, Marvel comics, Beatles flipsides, the confectionary you used to scoff when you were little ah the nostalgic sweetmeats of childhood, how much of a lump in your throat were they then and still are now , campy 70s sitcoms, Jean Marie Straub movies, the best places to go backpacking in Andalucia, bootlegs of the Velvet Underground, and so on boringly and tediously.Turns out you can be geeky and tedious about 9 11 too But perhaps not too surprising, as 90% of this book is about that shadowy alphabet world of espionage, counter espionage, counter counter espionage and lots of sweaty men trying to pluck the one shiny needle of truth from the haystack of rancid intelligence that the world of spy vs spy vs spy showers like golden rain bountifully, munificently, all over the place in this information soaked fun packed palace of stupefied over eaters we call the western world Three blind counter terrorist agencies see how they run they all ran after the farmer s wife which was a grave error as she knew very little about al Qaeda, as it turned out, after some strenuous waterboarding.Anyway, I couldn t hack it, it made me feel slightly ill Too much stuff about two giant boys towns, one better dressed than the other one, but only slightly Dispiriting is not the word.Disgusting may be.This has been another bad tempered rant from your friend Paul Bryant of Nottingham He ought to know better, but he doesn t.Thank you for your patience. People who want to be politicians are out of their goddamned minds Attempting to clean up this mess alone even just describing it as a single mess being, of course, a gross oversimplification is a task of such a Sisyphean order, I have serious doubts that even a titan could manage it, let alone some dipshit human s I would write about this, but this situation is way beyond my level of even abstract problem solving, and probably everyone s levels of abstract problem solving Combined.As you may have noticed, this book is so frustrating and overwhelming and anxiety inducing and depressing, depressing, depressing that it has left me totally scooped out and somber Fifty gallons of bleach couldn t cleanse my brain of some of the imagery in this thing, and I m not just talking about the actions of al Qaeda One of the most scandalizing things in the book for me was, actually, committed by the Egyptian government But of course, it is all terrible Everybody s terrible I m going to clear my throat and change the subject now Oh, after this last thought Please vote I know it feels futile and I totally understand the idea that doing so is morally reprehensible and validating the machine and all that, but watching my country s narrative edge its way closer and closer to some theocratic Handmaid s Tale shit like the Right is propagandistically prepping a patient for some illegal organ harvest starting with the uterus is just making me feel so helpless and hopeless and I have just this one measly thing to hold on to, that maybe we can get some people in office who, best case scenario, won t make this country and our world even shittier than it already is Y all seem pretty smurt Help Lawrence Wright is one of those guys who could easily put novelists out of business, and this book made me question why I read fiction at all The locations, characters, and events in The Looming Tower are so much fascinating than anything an author could invent, and the fact that they re real makes them seem important in a way fiction almost never does I loved this book, and my picayune quibbles a few recurring awkward sentence constructions, inexplicably referring to domestic terrorists who bomb clinics and murder doctors as protesters just need to be dispatched with here so people know I actually read this book, and am not just brainlessly screaming about how good it is because someone s slipped me a Samsonite suitcase stuffed with cash.I never would ve read this, actually, if it hadn t been assigned for school, because I purposely avoid everything written about the terrorist attacks of 9 11 01 Having to read this book was good because it made me think a lot about why I do that, plus most of it wasn t really about 9 11, but about the development during the last century of Islamist terrorism and formation of al Qaeda, which is infinitely interesting to read about anyway.As a very provincial, ignorant person who hasn t traveled a lot, I don t know much about Islam or the Arab world and am thus highly susceptible to a romantic Orientalist type fascination And so the descriptions in this book of Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan and a bunch of other places I can t even vaguely visualize without remedial assistance of the sort provided here in the mid to late twentieth century were instantly riveting to me, as were Wright s patient and highly readable narratives of various key players actions and lives Partly because the people and places described were so exotic to me, the book had a quality of the mythic to it, and I ll admit that my ignorance and naivite about the rest of the world contributed to my enjoyment of this For instance, his description of Saudi Arabia at mid century, just as oil is being discovered, was at least as thrilling and evocative as some fantasy adventure story The account of Mohammad bin Laden s construction in 1961 of a road uniting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had all the suspense and narrative power of incredible fiction and the details of Mohammad s polygamous practices were too lurid and insane to have been made up.No, Hollywood with all its big budgets and CGI effects can t compete with this book s images of antsy Arab jihadists holed up in Afghanistan, mid eighties Peshawar filling with the chaos of the Afghan war s overflow, a jihadi US Army sergeant al Qaeda member would be CIA agent s adventures stateside, a Sudanese general s selling bin Laden fake uranium that was really cinnabar, the shadowy worlds of international intrigues and terrorism and American intelligence s determined bureaucratic obstructionism of itself and of course all the violence, which is so pervasive and twisted and sadistic beyond even the most famously filmed gore YOU JUST CAN T MAKE THIS SHIT UP Would that we had toOkay, but Lawrence Wright didn t write his book just to entertain but also to inform This stuff really did happen, and we re supposed to think something about it, I guess Obviously part of what demands the comparison of this book to fiction is the over the top drama of its story the clash of civilizations apparently driving these men to mass murder for reasons that seem so foreign and incomprehensible to me.I guess the main reason I avoid reading about the 9 11 attacks is that I feel profoundly embarrassed by my nation s reaction to them Not only by our political and military response, but by our cultural processing, and what we ve made of these events Reasons for my discomfort with the political and military stuff is pretty obvious throughout The Looming Tower, Wright makes clear that a goal of the terrorists was to provoke a repressive response to make the United States behave like, say, Egypt, where dissenters and suspected terrorists were rounded up and tortured without any due process, a practice many point to as a factor in Ayman al Zawahiri s increasingly bloodthirsty radicalization Well uh, yeah as the old cliche points out, cliches become cliche for a reason, and the terrorists have won out in many ways, not least in our country s treatment of suspected terrorists Score one for the away team I mean, I really don t want to get into some boring stupid political rant, but reading this did make my own thoughts and feelings about all this stuff clearer to me In some ways the book had a sort of cartoonish simplicity in its presentation of the battle between good and evil, but the thing is that you can t argue that al Qaeda and these other similar groups aren t purely evil They are evil Intentional mass slaughter of innocent civilians is objectively evil, and so painting these guys as two dimensional Saturday morning animated villains is not wrong The only part of the equation that s not so simple is the goodness of adversary part, and so maybe the battle is like evil v at least somewhat less evil But whatever your issues with the United States and our tendency to have robots drop bombs on wedding parties halfway around the world and to perform extraordinary renditions to Syria or whatever, there are some very nice things about living here, such as the Taliban not running our zoo.One thing I remember really clearly about being a kid was watching movies or reading books and always thinking that the bad guys were trying to destroy the good guys based on some misunderstanding that if the good guys sat down with the bad guys and they drank some apple juice together, the bad guys would realize that their vendetta was all just a silly mistake Then I grew up, and came to understand that this was rarely the case Violent hatred isn t usually based just in miscommunication or a lack of understanding that s just a comforting myth we tell children because the truth kind of sucks It s not that al Qaeda hates me because they don t understand me If they really knew me and what I m all about, they d hate me even than they already do.Anyway, my book report is willfully trying to turn itself into a moronic political rant sorry Where I think I was going was that Wright also emphasizes how badly bin Laden wanted to lure the U.S into war in Afghanistan, which he envisioned after the Russians misadventure there as a guaranteed destroyer of empires Well, it is truly baffling to me why anyone would ever want to fight a war in AFGHANISTAN from what I can see this is a country of MUTILATED, DRUG DEALING TRIBAL WARLORDS WHO ARE PERFECTLY COMFORTABLE BEING SURROUNDED BY LANDMINES, and it seems like you d have to be crazy go fucking around with people like that but there we are Or rather, there are our troops, dealing with God only knows what, while the rest of us sit around at home getting fatter and updating our Apple products and spouting off uninformed opinions in online book reviews and occasionally still making some kind of pious, wounded noise about the excruciatingly painful national tragedy that was 9 11.I mean, that s really why I avoid all the 9 11 stuff, and what I find so uncomfortably embarrassing about it For me, in many ways what this book was about ultimately was violence, and about cultural understandings of violence and how it can be used A lot of the things in here shocked me because of the nature of the violence described far before we actually got to jihad, the accepted levels of violence in a lot of these cultures was astounding For instance, okay, yes, we still have the death penalty here, which also shocks me, but in Saudi Arabia who are our friends over there well, or less, as far as these things go capital punishment is effected through beheading. BEHEADING HOLY SHIT Maybe you think it s culturally insensitive or something that I consider that gruesome than lethal injection, but man, I sure do That s just one example though the wider culture that suicide bombers grow out of is one that seems to have a great deal familiarity and thus perhaps, to some extent, comfort with actual violence than our own.I say actual violence because there is a pretty great scene in here towards the end when I hope I m not getting the details wrong, I can t find it, sorry if this is wrong the al Qaeda guys are sitting around in some caves in Afghanistan watching Arnold Schwarzenegger movies to get ideas for their hijackings One unexpected impact this book, though its good v evil presentation, had was in making me question my own culture in a different way than I usually do I was raised to be critical of American values, even while being so obliviously embedded within and formed by them that I couldn t even fully identify what they were By explicating the terrorists beef with the U.S in such detail, Wright helped me see better why it is exactly that they hate our freedoms, and what these freedoms are, and of which ingredients is brewed the American Kool Aid is that I was raised on and remain ideologically committed to drinking.Maybe the amount of sentimentalism and exceptionalism that goes along with American discourse about 9 11 bothers me so much because I secretly feel some of it too There are embarrassing things about being an American in this era, and the 9 11 stuff makes me feel a lot of them strongly As I said at the outset, I am provincial and sheltered, and in this I am fairly representative of my countrymen I haven t traveled much, but I lived in New York for several years, and descriptions of mass death there do affect me than those of even horrific violence in far off Afghanistan, Egypt, Algeria, or Kenya.Lately before reading this book I ve been troubled a lot by the thought that I m not at all brave One thing that got me started thinking about that was talking to men who d served recently in Iraq and Afghanistan These guys are very different from most of us Americans in that they have traveled to these places, and have witnessed and participated in violence there They aren t motivated by religious fundamentalism they go into dangerous situations hoping very much they won t get hurt or die, and I consider that very brave But and I know this is no news flash, every idiot knows this while they were over there shooting people and having their convoys blown up we were all just back here buying shoes on the Internet and complaining about gas being expensive and acting like the events of September 11, 2001 were this completely isolated and exceptionally violent event that was so traumatic for all of us that our country just might never recover its emotional bearings I mean, we re so removed from violence that the false memory of its rarity frightens us so badly that we can t even bring our shampoo on the plane This bums me out so much because I don t want these jihadist assholes to be right about anything I don t want them to be right thinking that we re not brave and that we re not a moral nation, but we haven t done that great a job proving them wrong in the years since this happened.Okay, this review got away from me and I m just babbling and it s really really stupid, and I m sorry, but anyway, bottom line this is a fantastic book and I couldn t put it down the whole time that I was reading it Highly recommended, though maybe not for the plane Okay, I had to chop off this already overly long non review, because I heard the screams of my neighbors and realized the Superbowl had started, so not wanting to be against us I had to run off to that But now, having patriotically reaffirmed my faith in the greatness of my powerful nation by watching Cee Lo Green and Madonna lip sync Like a Prayer, I thought I d try to wrap up some of my irrelevant and incoherent non thoughts.I m actually not sure what it is that I was trying to say here about violence Maybe I m saying that I think we need to be consistent in our cultural understanding and application of it, but this book could be a warning about the dangers of consistency, which is perhaps not just the hobgoblin of little minds but also the lifeblood of fundamentalism One thing I think Wright did a really good job of explaining was the lure that these ideas have for men who then blow up themselves and a whole bunch of innocent people What s the trade off, what do they get from it, aside from that rud afterlife stacked with nubile virgins Yeah I know these people are real different from the people I know, but they are still people, and I just don t think humans are wired for purely delayed gratification.What they get from fundamentalism taken to murderous extremes, sure, but fundamentalism in general is the happy comfort of moral clarity, of a simplified world Me, I just don t know what to make of all this All the violence, all the pain, all the baffling overwhelming complexity of an insane world It s hard enough figuring out what to think of any of it, let alone to know how to live every day in a way that doesn t feel like a series of idiotic and self contradicting mistakes But if you become one of these jihad guys, such confusion is no longer a problem you face There s good, and there s bad, and you know what you must do And what you must do does seem super batshit crazy and horrible to me, but to you it makes so much sense that you d never even dream of questioning it, and that s gotta feel pretty great maybe so much that it s a feeling worth killing and dying for.But I am still disturbed by our culture s relationship to violence, which seems very hypocritical and problematic to me Obviously there s something distasteful about letting our enemies define us, but if we are going to play that game and say we stand for the opposite of what they do, then what we stand for, what we do and believe should make sense If they are for repression and we are for freedom, then we need to be free If we are against violence, let us be against violence if we are not against violence, then let s be honest about that, and not cry and whine so much when that violence touches our lives.I don t know, it was easy for the terrorists to be consistent in their actions, because they were fundamentalists they were willing to die in order to kill though tellingly, bin Laden expressed in his will that he didn t want his sons to join al Qaeda it s understandably a lot easier to send someone else s kids off to die, as we see here at home when powerful people happily start wars that their sons won t have to fight It is a lot harder for a diverse nation of people with wildly different ideas about morality and violence to agree about how we re going to see things and respond to something like terrorist acts But it should start at least with our owning the consequences of our actions it should have started with much responsible media coverage of this last decade s wars, for example I mean that s just an example I don t really know what else to say about it, except that I thought of some article a few months ago in one of those mainstream weekly news magazines Time or Newsweek about the United States military and how sealed off in many ways from the rest of the population they ve become I think that s a really important problem that points to a lot than just itself In my experience, it seems to me that a lot of us either tend to be lefty doves, who tend to be naive about certain global realities, or righty hawks, who can be cavalier about the effects of violence It seems to me that Americans who have fought in the military and people who have grown up in really violent neighborhoods not surprisingly tend to be realistic and less sentimental about violence, but is that what we want As this book shows, once you get comfortable with violence things can quickly get horrific and disgusting.Blah blah blah blah I don t know who I m talking to or what I m saying or why, I m really just babbling procrastinating on homework Sorry.The final thing that I wanted to say about The Looming Tower was that I learned how all the terrorists would blend in and get legal status whether in California or Somalia or wherever by simply marrying a native woman THIS SERIOUSLY FREAKED ME THE HELL OUT Those who know me are aware that I have a reputation for poor judgment when it comes to affairs of the heart, and a weakness for swarthy men with an air of mystery about them and so what am I supposed to do now with this piece of information If I turn down dates with foreign guys named Muhammad does that mean the terrorists have won Ah, questions, troubling questions of the post 9 11 world In any case a truly great book. What a great surprise this book was I first read about The Looming Tower the title comes from the Koranic verse Osama bin Laden used as a coded message to the 9 11 hijackers in a number of political op ed columns Finally, though, it was conservative writer Jonah Goldberg s heavy reliance on The Looming Tower for an L.A Times column that sent me looking for the book.Lawrence Wright s treatment of the jihadist movement is thorough to the point of being almost sympathetic It goes deeply into what Egyptian interrogation methods created so many Ayman al Zawahiris It explores the history of oil wealth in Saudi Arabia and an immigrant construction entrepreneur named Mohammed bin Laden whose seventeenth child, of fifty four, would grow up to become the world s most ambitious terrorist.It also walks readers through the tangled relationship between the United States and Afghanistan and the Taliban and al Qaeda and, yes, Saddam Hussein, and the Northern Alliance and Egypt s Hosni Mubarak.It is fairly merciless in its treatment of the American bureaucracy that created figurative walls between the CIA and the FBI It makes a somewhat cartoonish hero of an FBI agent named John O Neill and a level headed assessment of Richard Clarke.This was the book that led to the interesting and needlessly controversial two day miniseries called The Road to 9 11 That series, like this book, points an accusatory finger at no one American, not Bill Clinton and not George W Bush.Why not Well, because the book is too sophisticated for the mindless, thirty second shout a thons that have passed for political discourse on both the political left and right since 9 11.Anyone who is interested in an intermediate level analysis of what made Osama bin Laden so notorious and his rise has many parallels to that of Ernesto Guevara de la Serna is well advised to read this book At 475 pages, it is exhaustive but not exhausting.Anyone who has strong feelings about what caused the rise of al Qaeda and be warned, the network is a lot smaller than one might think on the world stage should read this book before the next time he raises his voice for against a US politician The Looming Tower is not complicated the cop out word self proclaimed intellectuals use at every turn but detailed It is not inciting but insightful It is also highly recommended to any curious American.