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THE TOWERS by David Poyer


by David Poyer

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-61301-3
Publisher: St. Martin's

After barely surviving the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon, and having his wife maimed while escaping the attack on the World Trade Center, U.S. Navy officer Dan Lenson reconsiders retiring and becomes embroiled in the search for Osama bin Laden.

Poyer, who has drawn on his considerable experience as a naval officer in crafting the popular Lenson series (The Weapon, 2009, etc.), likely had no reason when he was writing this book to believe it would be upstaged by the actual discovery and disposal of bin Laden. That Obama administration triumph unavoidably takes some of the edge off this story. But plot isn't what drives the book as much as procedure. It still succeeds as a detailed examination of how the government and the military work together, or don't, in such pressure-backed situations—and in such hostile territory as the frigid expanse of Afghanistan, urban Bagram and pre-revolt Yemen. Poyer couldn't be more authoritative in imparting chains of command, strategy, weaponry and terrain. On September 10, 2011, Lenson is in the Washington suburbs licking his wounds, having been passed over for captain despite his Navy Cross and Silver Star. His superiors don't like his independent streak. Former SEAL sniper Teddy Oberg is in Los Angeles, having left the Navy to produce war movies. The 9/11 attacks draw both men back to the Middle East. Meanwhile, federal special agent Aisha Ar-Rahim, an Arab-American working counterterrorism in Yemen, discovers the racial stereotyping she had to deal with a day earlier are nothing compared to the nastiness after 9/11. The book is short on suspense, and the opening descriptions of the World Trade Center disaster add nothing to our understanding. But with its sure characterizations and blow-by-blow descriptions, it does a great job putting you in the middle of the action and conveying the vast odds against military success in Afghanistan.

An involving, skillfully told tale of the after-emotions of 9/11 and the internal conflicts experienced by U.S. personnel in the hunt for bin Laden.