Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Lawrence Wright

Lawrence Wright's acclaimed books include the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11.

From his Austin Monthly interview with David Leffler:

Your Pulitzer Prize–winning book, The Looming Tower, meticulously examines the events that lead to 9/11. Where were you that day?

On Tuesday, Sept. 11, I got in my car after meeting a group of friends for breakfast. NPR was on; that’s when I found out the first plane had hit. The second hit shortly after I got home. It was chilling: I’d previously written this movie, The Siege with Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis, that had postulated what would happen if a terrorist strike hit New York City. Like so many others, I was stunned, but I had to do something. I told The New Yorker, “Put me to work.” More than five years—and hundreds of interviews later—The Looming Tower went to print.

Another of your books, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, was converted into an HBO documentary. How did the Church of Scientology react to its creation?

They never actually sued me, but boy, did they threaten me. They relentlessly harassed my sources, who were ex-Scientologists; I’ve never run into people quite as frightened as they were. They stood to lose a lot, from persecution from the church, the loss of contact from their families, lawsuits, and, of course, the church’s own kind of informal prison system. Private investigators—I would say, very incompetent ones—followed me around too, mainly at public events. One even came to one of my gigs and...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue