In an interview, Wright mentioned that he was using three tome-filled bookcases in order to do research on the book that would eventually become The Looming Tower. Now, I’ve never written a non-fiction book, hell, by any reasonable standard I haven’t written a fiction book, but that is an impressive amount of reading and it shows in the book he eventually created.
Well researched and with a flair for the personal, Wright paints a human portrait of people we specialize in turning into demons. This is not to say that he attempts to elevate or sympathize with a terror cell. That would be madness. No, instead there is simply a want to convey, to show and thereby allow us to see the minds and events preceding the fall of the World Trade Center. It uncovers a world of self-insulated intelligence agencies pissing on their legs in the name of territory while a restless and searching middle class find relevance and meaning in the fanatical arms of jihad.
It’s all here. A series of small moments that end in the ash and shadow of two towers.
A fine and irreplaceable piece of nonfiction more than worthy of the prize and praise heaped upon it.
“The animals in the zoo-those that had not been stolen in previous administrations-were slain or left to starve. One zealous, perhaps mad, Taliban jumped into a bear’s cage and cut off his nose, reputedly because the animal’s “beard” was not long enough. Another fighter, intoxicated by events and his own power, leaped into the lion’s den and cried out, “I am the lion now!” The lion killed him. Another Taliban solider threw a grenade into the den, blinding the animal. These two, the noseless bear and the blind lion, together with two wolves, were the only animals that survived Taliban rule.” ― Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11