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Lawrence Wright's "The Looming Tower" Essay

1652 words - 7 pages

Following the devastating terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, the Unites States found itself in a search for answers and revenge against those that had brought about this atrocity. The attack that has been compared to that of Pearl-Harbor elevated the tracking and collecting of terrorism from barely a priority, to the forefront of the American radar. I honestly believe that terrorism as the #1 priority is destined to remain at the top for the foreseeable future. The elemental thoughts on almost all American minds following the attacks were who had the strength and capability to could carry out such an attack on a country with the world’s strongest military and what led to their ...view middle of the document...

According to the biography on his website, Wright is no stranger to the Middle East. Having both studied and taught at the American University in Cairo in 1969, he brings firsthand knowledge of the region. He also noted that he did study a bit of Arabic during his days overseas. While Lawrence Wright is now a journalist for The New Yorker and an accomplished author, he did not set out to become a writer. After his stint in Cairo, he found himself in Nashville, TN covering the end of the civil rights movement. This was the beginning of Wright's career in journalism. Lawrence Wright has also written several screenplays, to include the movie The Seige, which received very defensive reactions from numerous Arab organizations. (
On September 11, 2001, the day of the towers fell, Lawrence Wright was an active journalist for the New Yorker. That afternoon he sent a simple request to his boss: "Put me to work." From his home in Austin, Lawrence Wright began interviewing a survivor in Queens, New York. He conducted the interviews long-distance, and put together an account based on the experience of this survivor. From there, Wright stumbled on the story of John O'Neill, the former FBI agent who became chief of security for the World Trade Center. The accounts of O’Neill’s untimely perish in the 9/11 attacks became one of the central themes for The Looming Tower. Prior to the release of The Looming Tower, Wright researched and penned a groundbreaking piece for The New Yorker entitled "The Man Behind bin Laden," which records the life and history behind Usama bin Laden’s #2 man, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Lawrence Wright's book The Looming Tower received extensive praise. The book sat atop the New York Times bestseller list for eight weeks, was translated into twenty-five languages, and won numerous awards, to include a Pulitzer Prize in the General Nonfiction category. ( "I felt I was born to do the book," Wright was quoted as saying. "I know it's something I have to do." ( Lawrence Wright individually interviewed over 1000 Arabs for the book. Compare this to the 911 Commission Report, which was backed by a team of 80 support staff and a budget of $15 million, the commission reviewed over 2 million pages of documents; conducted over 1,000 interviews, including sessions with the President and high-ranking officials in the Administration; and held several high-profile public hearings. In the path of its investigation, the commission received unprecedented access to all the materials and sources that it felt it needed to complete a thorough investigation. While the 9/11 Commission Report and The Looming Tower covered a single horrific event and both sought to understand the accounts and reasons of the attack, they both differed greatly in their approach. One of the main tactics that I feel Wright utilized, where the 911 Commission Report fell short, was his approach in understanding not only...

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