Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq , by Thomas E. Ricks (2006). Former Washington Post reporter Ricks spares almost no one in this wide-ranging exploration of U.S. strategy.

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.


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close , by Jonathan Safran Foer (2005). A precocious 9-year-old boy struggles to understand his father, who was killed in the twin towers.

Incendiary , by Chris Cleave (2005). A working-class English woman whose husband and son were killed in an al-Qaeda suicide bombing narrates this novel-length letter to Osama bin Laden.

The Lake Shore Limited , by Sue Miller (2010). A young playwright struggles to articulate her odd sense of survivor’s guilt after her fiance is killed in the twin towers.

Netherland , by Joseph O’Neill (2008). In this PEN/Faulkner winner, a Dutchman in New York seeks solace in the game of cricket after the 9/11 attacks.

Saturday , by Ian McEwan (2005). One day in the life of a neurosurgeon who sees a burning airplane descend from the sky onto London.