Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower

3418 Words14 Pages

Throughout the 1990s and into the 21st century, words such as jihad, suicide bomber, and al-Qaeda increasingly permeated the collective consciousness of Americans. These words were associated with fear, with terror, with the threat of death, and with the eastern ‘Other’. September 11, 2001 is a day on which most can recall the shaky words of broadcasters and the billowing plumes of smoke that were emitted from the towers of the World Trade Centre when members of the Islamic fundamentalist group al-Qaeda hijacked four commercial passenger airplanes and crashed them into targeted landmarks in the United States. Lawrence Wright’s novel, The Looming Tower, draws upon several years of first-hand research and investigative journalism that reveals the political and historical atmosphere that led to the events of that day. The author composes a rigorous, detailed, and poetic work of nonfiction that illustrates the complex and geographically dispersed histories of Islamic fundamentalism and gives life to the personalities of the men that shaped the ideas that guided al-Qaeda. In the book, the actions of these men are built around narratives of their pasts; narratives of sexual obsession and repulsion, humiliation, torture, and resentment. The novel is rich with detail and divulges the reader in the particularly emotional and personal nuances of men such as Sayyid Qutb, Ayman Zawahiri, and Osama bin Laden. In 1978, Edward Said wrote the groundbreaking book, Orientalism, which has since given clarity to the power dynamic between the East and the West, the Occident and the Orient. Orientalism is the pervasive and largely Western tradition of building stereotypical and negative archetypes of people of the Middle East and Asia. Or...

... middle of paper ...

... Qaeda Warrior Uses Internet to Rally Women. The New York Times. Retrieved from:

Sherwell, Phil. (January 23, 2010). Al-Qaeda has trained female suicide bombers to attack West, US officials warn. The Telegraph. Retrieved from:

Von Knop, Katharina. (2007). The Female Jihad: Al Qaeda’s Women. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 397-414.

Wark, Wesley. (January 28, 2011). The sisterhood of death. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from

Wright, Lawrence. (2006). The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. New York: Random House.
Open Document