One of Dalrymple's top ten books on Afghanistan, as told to the Guardian:
The Looming Tower by Lawrence WrightRead about the other entries on the list.
Wright's acclaimed book contains by far the most rounded biographical portrait of the central figures of al-Qaida, and how they took root in Afghanistan. It is also a beautifully written and wonderfully compelling narrative. Wright is especially revealing about Bin Laden's own personality: his naivety, egalitarianism and surprising austerity — a rare example of a Saudi billionaire prepared to move to the rigours of Afghanistan and undertake hard manual labour and to live in comfortless, rigorous poverty. Still the best of the many books on 9/11.
The Looming Tower also made Marjorie Kehe's list of eight worthy 9/11 books and the Christian Science Monitor's list of seven books about Osama bin Laden.
Also see: Five top books on foreigners in Afghanistan; Five books on Afghanistan; and Five best books about Afghanistan.