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With the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Looming Tower, Lawrence Wright became generally acknowledged as one of our major journalists writing on terrorism in the Middle East. This collection draws on several articles he wrote while researching that book, as well as many that he's written since, following where and how al-Qaeda and its core cult-like beliefs have morphed and spread. They include an indelible impression of Saudi Arabia, a kingdom of silence under the control of the religious police; the Syrian film industry, then compliant at the edges but already exuding a feeling of the barely masked fury that erupted into civil war; and the 2006-11 Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza, a study in disparate values of human lives. Others continue to look into al-Qaeda as it forms a master plan for its future, experiences a rebellion from within the organization, and spins off a growing web of terror in the world. The American response is covered in profiles of two FBI agents and a chief of the CIA. It ends with the recent devastating piece about the capture and beheading by ISIS of four American journalists and aid workers, and how our government failed to handle the situation.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By peter on 09-21-16
Contains much old material from "Looming Tower"
I'm a huge fan of Lawrence Wright - I've read The Looming Tower twice and I thought Going Clear was excellent.
I was very disappointed with The Terror Years which reuses a huge amount of content that can be found in his earlier works. This includes the first three chapters of this book, which covers the stories of Al-Zawahiri, John O'Neill and Ali Soufan. Given that I reread The Looming Tower in anticipation of The Terror Years, I was particularly annoyed to be wading through tales that I had just finished reading a couple of days before.
Then we get into new stories which are great, especially the story on terror plots in Spain - classic Wright - but then again we end up regurgitating old material in the later chapter on the dispute between Al Zawahiri and Fadl.
If this is your first Lawrence Wright book, then it's great. But if you're coming to it looking for a sequel to The Looming Tower, you'll be disappointed, and perhaps left feeling you've been a little bilked.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
By John on 05-08-17
Factual, but soft
Prior to this book, I listened to "Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS". I found both books to be similar in that they both distill a lot of information into a well put together linear narrative. They both seem very well researched, well written, and very informative. However, where I found them to be different was that this author seemed to have written in the style that came across as attempting to be somewhat persuasive. And books like this I always prefer an informative, neutral account I have no problem with his humanizing Siri and civilians, but found some of his word choices to be a bit soft in regards to the scribing accounts of terrorist activities, Terrorists themselves, and Fidel Castro in the epilogue.