In the past 12 years, much of the news, foreign policy, and many of the personal and professional choices I have made have been influenced in some way by the events of September 11th. For many people the effects were greater, more personal and much more devastating. The events of that day have made a huge mark on the US and its citizens, and for me, it was important to read more, know more, better understand the things that went on, and brought us here. I think that the sprawling history of The Looming Tower is important for Americans to know. I don’t know if everyone should read it, or if they’ll have the patience to read the entire book – to know the multitude of characters, to flip back and forth between stories, but I think it’s worth it.
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On September 11, 2001 I was a high schooler living safe and sound in a suburb of Toledo, Ohio. Fate would determine that my second period would be with the American Studies teacher who was also the school's A/V supervisor. So a group of us juniors watched slack-jawed as the second plane struck and as both towers fell. All the while our teacher bellowed at us about how these events would change everything, and the world we thought we knew would be different now.
For the nearly ten years between that day and his death, Osama bin Laden to me was just the thin, silent figure on grainy VHS tapes, shooting range targets, and occasional photographs. The Looming Tower: al-Qaeda and the Road To 9/11, Lawrence Wright's riveting history of bin Laden, his al-Qaeda organization, and Islamic extremism seeks to flesh out that vague image. Continue reading