This winner of the Pulitzer Prize had us talking. While it wasn't the light read that most of us prefer this time of year we did think it was worth the read.
This non-fiction gem by Lawrence Wright explains the history of (or rather the development of) Islamic fundamentalism, the origins of al-Qaeda, and the (our words) criminal breakdown between U.S. agencies that failed several times over to stop the horrific events of 9/11.
Wright gives us a reference list of the cast of characters, but even with this tool it is daunting to follow all the folks who influenced and impacted bin laden (no capitals for that guy) and his ominous rise to leader of this organization.
As a counter point to bin laden the reader is introduced to an individual so interesting that he seems fictional. One of the key FBI players responsible for investigating the Embassy attacks in Kenya and Tanzania, John O'Neil is so colorful and interesting in his personal life that he makes a complex and tragic foe to bin laden, who in spite of his unique interpretation of the Koran believes himself to be righteous.
This book is by no means easy to read, the history is long and complicated and the failures at every turn to stop the growth of al-Qaeda and their misguided displays of "revenge" are maddening. Hind side is 20/20 - but Wright is unforgiving in his critisim of the failures of our government agencies.
Next up... Book of the Year!