Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 , by Steve Coll (2004). In this Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation, Coll, a former managing editor of The Post, traces the CIA’s covert efforts in Afghanistan and their consequences: the rise of Islamic militancy, al-Qaeda and bin Laden.
Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror , by Michael Scheuer (2004). This sharp critique of the terrorist threat and the Bush administration’s failed efforts to fight it was originally published anonymously by Scheuer, former chief of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit.
The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 , by Lawrence Wright (2006). A Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the rise of al-Qaeda and Islamic fundamentalism and an examination of the faulty intelligence that permitted the 9/11 attacks.
The 9/11 Commission Report: The Attack From Planning to Aftermath (2004). The government-authorized report on the attacks reads like a nonfiction thriller and was a finalist for the National Book Award.