The Terror Years:

From al-Qaeda to the Islamic State

  • Read by: John H. Mayer
  • Runtime: 17.4 Hours
  • Recording: Unabridged
  • Release date: 8.23.2016
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • Genre: Nonfiction/Political Science
  • 17.41 hrs8/23/2016Unabridged
  • ISBN-13: 9780804165457

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; 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.



Editorial Reviews

Definitive: a narrative roadmap of how we got here, from the ashes of Lower Manhattan to the rise of the Islamic State . . . Few journalists understand [this] ever-evolving war better than Wright.Michael Friscolanti, Maclean’s
A new insightful, informative series of essays . . . Taken together, they provide a thoughtful analysis of the forces that have shaped a volatile part of the world and the policies that have made peace so elusive.Dale Singer, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
This is reportage pure and simple—and it is first-rate . . . [Mr. Wright] recounts his findings in crystalline prose [and] never loses his own moral compass.Max Boot, The Wall Street Journal
Intricate, painstaking reporting.Michael Hoinski, Texas Monthly
 
Anyone who reflects on these thorough, thoughtful pieces will be better equipped to evaluate the prescriptions for [fighting terrorism].Shelf AwarenessUniformly excellent.Joe Gross, Austin American-StatesmanWright [weaves] his research . . . into a fine tapestry of personal experience and unobtrusive reflection.James Traub, The New York Times Book Review
Wright has a gift only the most talented journalists possess: Whether unpacking large and complex entities like al-Qaeda or drawing in-depth profiles of FBI agents, he brings the world vividly to our fingertips.O Magazine
This is reportage pure and simple—and it is first-rate . . . [Mr. Wright] recounts his findings in crystalline prose [and] never loses his own moral compass.Max Boot, The Wall Street Journal"One of [our] most lucid writers . . . again helps us understand Islamic extremism and the West’s reaction to it . . . in his superb and gracefully written accounts of the past three decades. He maintains a studious balance in all his essays [and] describes more clearly than most writers on terrorism the attitudes, clothes, and habits of the characters he discusses.Ahmed Rashid, The New York Review of Books
Behind the daily headlines there are lives in the balance. With these pages Wright does those lives a great service.Chris Vognar, The Dallas Morning News
Intricate, painstaking reporting.Michael Hoinski, Texas MonthlyVital prose . . . Wright has profiled the key players, detailed the major events, and tried with an almost forlorn kind of insistence to make sense of the senseless.Steve Donoghue, The Christian Science Monitor
Wright is an old-school reporter, relying on face-to-face interviews rather than e-mail, grinding out his research by frequent visits to the Middle East, many times in dangerous places, meeting anonymous (and mysterious) sources.Bob Hooper, Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
A new insightful, informative series of essays . . . Taken together, they provide a thoughtful analysis of the forces that have shaped a volatile part of the world and the policies that have made peace so elusive.Dale Singer, The St. Louis Post-DispatchWright 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 ReviewsThis is reportage pure and simple—and it is first-rate . . . [Mr. Wright] recounts his findings in crystalline prose [and] never loses his own moral compass.Max Boot, The Wall Street JournalA brilliant volume that is a must-read for anyone looking for greater illumination of the baffling world of religious extremism.Carl Hays, BooklistVivid firsthand reportage . . . Wright investigates every facet of the shadowy conflict [in] these dispatches from the frontlines of the 'war on terror.' He writes with empathy for every side while clearly registering the moral catastrophes that darken this pitiless struggle.Publishers Weekly Wright has a gift only the most talented journalists possess: Whether unpacking large and complex entities like al-Qaeda or drawing in-depth profiles of FBI agents, he brings the world vividly to our fingertips.O MagazineRiveting . . . Wright describes how al-Qaeda’s philosophy spread and morphed into the ideology and practices of ISIS today, [including] a fascinating account of Saudi society and government . . . This informative book will appeal to all readers interested in the genesis and development of terrorist movements.Library JournalVital prose . . . Wright has profiled the key players, detailed the major events, and tried with an almost forlorn kind of insistence to make sense of the senseless.Steve Donoghue, The Christian Science MonitorDefinitive: a narrative roadmap of how we got here, from the ashes of Lower Manhattan to the rise of the Islamic State . . . Few journalists understand [this] ever-evolving war better than Wright.Michael Friscolanti, Maclean’sWright is an old-school reporter, relying on face-to-face interviews rather than e-mail, grinding out his research by frequent visits to the Middle East, many times in dangerous places, meeting anonymous (and mysterious) sources.Bob Hooper, Minneapolis Star TribuneClear and sharp writing . . . Each story is a densely packed nugget of information.USA TodayClear and sharp writing . . . Each story is a densely packed nugget of information.USA Today
Wright [weaves] his research . . . into a fine tapestry of personal experience and unobtrusive reflection.James Traub, The New York Times Book ReviewBehind the daily headlines there are lives in the balance. With these pages Wright does those lives a great service.Chris Vognar, The Dallas Morning News

”A must-read for anyone looking for greater illumination of the baffling world of religious extremism.“

Booklist

Author Biography

Lawrence Wright graduated from Tulane University and spent two years teaching at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. He is a staff writer for the New Yorker and a fellow at the Center on Law and Security at New York University School of Law. The author of several works of nonfiction, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Looming Tower, he has also written a novel, God’s Favorite, and was cowriter of the movie The Siege. He and his wife live in Austin, Texas.

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Reader Biography

John H. Mayer is a writer, actor, and audiobook narrator. In 1973, he cowrote Radio Rocket Boy, an award-winning short film. He also has narrated dozens of audiobooks, including American Lion and The Wolf Tree, among many others. 

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