Summary

Ten powerful pieces first published in The New Yorker recall the path terror in the Middle East has taken from the rise of al-Qaeda in the 1990s to the recent beheadings of reporters and aid workers by ISIS.
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 cultlike 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.
©2016 Lawrence Wright (P)2016 Random House Audio
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Critic reviews

"Wright displays his top-notch reporting in stories about a disintegrating Syria, the never-ending conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians, the faith-based beliefs that undergird al-Qaida and the Islamic State group, and the massive failures of American intelligence agencies. Yet more great work from a dedicated journalist." ( Kirkus Reviews)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By peter on 21-09-16

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.

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10 of 10 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars
By Dan R. Collins on 09-09-18

A Disappointment

I thought The Looming Tower was an incredibly compelling read. In fact, I feel it is one of the most important books on the subject of 21st century terrorism. It was very well written, full of intrigue and competently researched details. The Terror Years, however, was highly disappointing. While I expected some material from TLT to appear early in the book in an effort to provide background to the reader, I was surprised by Wright's choice to tell the story in vignettes rather than build a linear, connected story from 9/11 to present. I will try to return the book for a refund from Audible.

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