Lawrence Wright (2006)

A narrative history of the rise of Al Qaeda and the consequences for the world.

I read this book after I’d seen the recent television drama based on it. They cover substantially different ground, with the book rooted firmly in the origins and history of the group rather than in the few years preceding 9/11. It focuses quite intensively on Ayman al Zawahiri, whose struggle against the Egyptian government led to his eventual exile in Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden, by contrast is – if not quite a bit player – then certainly a peripheral and rather transparent figure whose commitment to revolution arrives very late and in a surprisingly hesitant fashion – but is then absolutely decisive in both the tactics and strategy of the fight against the US and its allies. Altogether a fascinating cast of characters,

5/5. Finished Wednesday 11 April, 2018.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)