Lawrence Wright’s “The Terror Web” from the August 2, 2004 New Yorker may be the single best piece of reporting on al Qaeda and allied terror networks in print.
I picked up Wright’s new book, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, at the Dallas airport this morning, and could not put it down for the three hour flight home, and will certainly keep reading at the same pace. It is riveting, and its first quarter provides the history of the roots of al Qaeda that should be required reading for every member of the government and the chattering class. I am certain that the balance of the book will be equally as valuable, and I suspect it will achieve what the 9/11 Commission report could not –widespread readership and agreement about the crucial events that led to 9/11.
Along with Robert Kaplan’s Imperial Grunts, The Looming Tower is immediately entered on that small shelf of books instantly understood to be necessary for any analyst of the war to have read.