Ten years after, you wonder what we've learned. When the towers fell on September 11, Frank Rich wrote a moving column the following Sunday in the New York Times saying everything had changed—the "fat, daydreaming America" that feasted on reality shows like Survivor and Fear Factor, he said, "is gone now, way gone." Indeed, New York grieved, the country grieved, and much of the world rallied in emotional support of an effort to avenge the "evil-doers." America exploded in patriotism, with jet flyovers at ball parks, and the old chestnut "God Bless America," not to mention Lee Hazlewood, enjoying a resurgence. People talked about "the new normal."
But much of the "fat, daydreaming America" returned—American Idol and a housing boom followed, and the Dow topped 14,000 points in October 2007. Frank Rich took his share of scorn for saying things would be forever different because they just seemed to get more fun—even if we were fighting two wars. But now, it is clear to everyone, Rich wasn't so wrong after all.
A new order is emerging, in which things are nothing like they were. A decade that has endured steady conflict between the West and nonstate aggressors and witnessed the U.S. deposing a country's leader and assassinating a terrorist head, and trillions of dollars burned off of what was thought to be wealth is surely new. And as many Americans will attest, it's getting old.
However, a look at American publishing's take on those events with the benefit of 10 years' hindsight reveals that our understanding has not evolved significantly. The leading books on this anniversary are updated editions of the books that spoke to us most effectively in the early aftermath—those that rounded up the facts of various investigations and proposed reasonable narratives of what had led to an unprecedented tragedy on American soil. These are all timely reintroductions to what happened, and what happened as a result, and the debate about what happened. It is interesting to note, though, that on this 10th anniversary, much of what has also happened as a result—economic peril, the wobbling of regimes in the Arab world, heavy damage to American strength abroad, welfare at home, and a sharp political divisiveness—is not being explored at this particular time (with the possible exception of Noam Chomsky's work).
Perhaps that's appropriate. The list that follows contains several moving and new stories of survival—Lauren Manning's long recovery from her burn injuries, Michael Hingson's spectacular account of walking down 68 floors of the North Tower with his guide dog, Roselle. Then there is Laurie Garret's valuable self-published e-book, in which she details the poorly understood science about toxins released at ground zero, and Paul Lioy's study of same, in Dust, and a unusual collection of essays about life in "the terrorist decade" in Muslim Detroit. Please note, too, the noble attempts to tell this story to a generation of children who were not born when George Bush read My Pet Goat to a group of kindergarteners in Florida, on the morning of September 11, 2001.
Click over to the next page for our list of new and revised 9/11 books
HENRY HOLT/TIMES BOOKS
102 Minutes: The Unforgettable Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn. $26; $16 trade paper ISBN 978-0-8050-9421-3; Aug.
The account by New York Times writers Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn of the fight to survive within the Twin Towers, from first impact to the second collapse, was widely praised when published in 2005. The authors append a new postscript, in which they catch up with many of the citizens whose stories they told so well. “You read it almost in one sitting with your hair on end.”—Garrison Keillor
9/11 Commission Report: The Attack from Planning to Aftermath: The Authorized Text by the 9/11 Commission, afterword by Philip D. Zelikow. $14.95 trade paper ISBN 978-0-393-34013-6; Aug.
Zelikow oversaw the writing and structuring of this official account of how 9/11 happened, and it reads like a novel. Zelikow appends a sobering afterword, acknowledging American culture’s “process of adjustment... to failures.”
SEVEN STORIES PRESS
9/11: Was There An Alternative? by Noam Chomsky. $13.95 trade paper ISBN 978-1-60980-343-8; Sept.
The first edition of this book, titled 9-11, sold 400,000 copies in the U.S. alone and placed the events of that day in a broader historical context, one that Louis Menand called “practically the only counter-narrative out there at a time when questions tended to be drowned out by a chorus of... God Bless America.” For this edition, Chomsky has provided a substantial new essay, “Was There an Alternative?” which asserts that the American response to 9/11 amounted to “supreme international crime(s)” that make us not more but less secure.
One Nation: America Remembers September 11, 2011, 10 Years Later by the editors of Life magazine. $29.99 ISBN 978-0-316-19802-8; Aug.
This expanded edition, written by Life magazine staffers. includes a new foreword by Tom Brokaw and the text of President Obama’s speech on the death of bin Laden.
Above Hallowed Ground: A Photographic Record of September 11, 2001 by the New York City Police Department. $35 ISBN 978-0-670-03171-9; Aug. 26
Viking/Studio is “repromoting” this 2002 title, which features NYPD photos chronicling the devastation of 9/11 and the aftermath.
Unmeasured Strength by Lauren Manning. $25 ISBN 978-0-8050-9463-3; Aug.
A Cantor Fitzgerald executive kisses her son and husband good-bye and takes a cab from the West Village to her office. As she waits at the elevator to the 105th floor, a fireball emerges from the North Tower bank, engulfing her in flames. This is the story of her long, tortuous road to recovery from burns that covered 80% of her body. The Today Show, Piers Morgan, The View, The Chris Matthews Show; first serial in Vogue.
Reluctant Hero: A 9/11 Survivor Speaks Out About That Unthinkable Day, What He’s Learned, How He’s Struggled, and What No One Should Ever Forget by Michael Benfante and Dave Hollander. $24.95 ISBN 978-1-61608-285-7; Aug.
Michael Benfante was one of the first acknowledged heroes of the World Trade Center attacks—he and a co-worker in the North Tower made a 96-minute trip down the stairwell carrying a wheelchair-bound woman 68 floors to safety. He reflects on the intensity of that day and his life afterward—marriage, a degree from Brown University, and more.
After the Fall: New Yorkers Remember September 2001 and the Years That Followed, edited by Mary Marshall Clark, Peter Bearman, Catherine Ellis, and Stephen Drury Smith. $26.95 ISBN 978-1-59558-647-6; Sept. 6
A Columbia University oral history project gathers this collection of testimonies from New Yorkers who were interviewed following the World Trade Center attacks. The interviews include first-responders, taxi drivers, school teachers, artists, religious leaders, immigrants, and many others who continue to feel the impact of the attack on their city.
A Decade of Hope: Stories of Grief and Endurance from 9/11 Families and Friends by Dennis Smith and Dierdre Smith. $26.95 ISBN 978-0-670-02293-9; Aug. 23
Former New York City firefighter Dennis Smith, assisted by his daughter, Dierdre, select 25 interviews with 9/11 heroes and principals—some of them well-known, like Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and others less known, like Akiko Takahashi, who lost her father and now volunteers at the World Trade Center visitors center. PW called this a “powerful tribute and testimony.”
Until the Fires Stopped Burning: 9/11 and New York City in the Words and Experiences of Survivors and Witnesses by Charles Strozier. $26.95 ISBN 978-0-231-15898-5; Sept.
A practicing psychoanalyst and director of the Center on Terrorism at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Strozier examines the “unconscious meaning of 9/11” as a historical disaster and focuses on the psychological effects it has on survivors. His research is based on analyzing subjects’ interviews.
We’re Not Leaving: 9/11 Responders Tell Their Stories of Courage, Sacrifice, and Renewal by Benjamin Luft, M.D. $20 trade paper ISBN 978-0-9832370-2-0; Sept.
This oral history project started by Dr. Luft, a professor of medicine at SUNY Stony Brook who established a medical monitoring and treatment center for disaster responders, relates the many stories of heroism and first-person accounts of the recovery effort at ground zero. Luft is set to appear on 60 Minutes on September 11.
9/11 Stories of Courage, Heroism and Generosity, intro. by Tim Zagat. $24.95 ISBN 978-1-60478-4657; Aug.
Zagat CEO Tim Zagat, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former New York governor George Pataki reflect on the crisis, but remind fellow New Yorkers to look for the good in people.
Project Rebirth: Survival and the Strength of the Human Spirit from 9/11 Survivors by Dr. Robin Stern and Courtney E. Martin. $25.95 ISBN 978-1-10154-348-1; Aug.
Written in conjunction with the documentary Rebirth (to air on Showtime on September 11), a psychologist and a journalist examine the lives of nine people who lost someone they loved in the World Trade Center.
The Legacy Letters: Messages of Life and Hope from 9/11 Family Members by Tuesday’s Children. $22 ISBN 978-1-10154-3306; Aug.
A collection of letters from surviving family members—some not yet born on 9/11—as if written to their beloved lost ones.
THOMAS NELSON PRESS
Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero by Michael Hingson and Susy Flory; foreword by Larry King. $22.99 ISBN 978-1-40020-304-8; Aug.
Michael Hingson, blind since birth, reported to his office at Quantum/ATL, a data protection company, on September 11, along with his guide dog, Roselle. Their trip down 78 flights of stairs after the North Tower had been hit is a harrowing tale of trust and courage.
9/11: The World Speaks by Tribute WTC Visitor Center, a project of the September 11 Families Association. $24.95 ISBN 978-0-7627-7799-0; Aug.
A collection of cards filled out by visitors from around the world to the Tribute Center Museum since it opened in 2006; foreword by Rudolph Giuliani, preface by Tom Brokaw.
A Place of Remembrance by Allison Blais and Lynn Rasic; foreword by Michael R. Bloomberg. $19.95 trade paper ISBN 978-1-4262-0807-2; Aug.
A commemorative volume written by two staff members of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum honors those lost and celebrates the spirit behind the building of the National Memorial, set to open on September 11.
Memory Remains: 9/11 Artifacts at Hangar 17, photos by Francesc Torres. $50 ISBN 978-1-4262-0833-; Aug.
This landscape-format book features spectacular, chilling, and mysterious photographs by Spanish artist Francesc Torres, who was granted special access to visit JFK International Airport’s Hangar 17, where intact objects from the site—fire trucks, cabs, girders, filing cabinets, sculpture—were stored.
The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama Bin Laden by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan. $30 ISBN 978-1-4000-6659-9; July
A comprehensive study, five years in the writing, which assesses the major studies undertaken, conspiracy theories, the still unfolding plight of first responders, the killing of bin Laden, and more.
WAYNE STATE UNIV. PRESS
Arab Detroit 9/11: Life in the Terror Decade, edited by Nabeel Abraham, Sally Howell, and Andrew Shruock. $24.95 trade paper ISBN 978-0-8143-3500-0; Sept.
A multivoiced account of how the post-9/11 backlash against Arab-Americans has transformed Detroit, known as “the capital of Arab America,” with 16 essays by the editors, Lawrence Joseph, William Youmans, and others.
BAYLOR UNIV. PRESS
Becoming American?: The Forging of Arab and Muslim Identity in Pluralist America by Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad. $19.95 ISBN 978-160-25840-68; Oct.
This study traces the historyof Arab and Muslim immigration in the West. “Haddad is always at the cutting edge in the study of Arab and Muslim Americans.”—Jane I. Smith, Harvard Divinity School.
ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD
Dust: The Inside Story of Its Role in the September 11th Aftermath by Paul J. Lioy. $34.95 ISBN 978-1-4422-0149-1; July
Lioy shares his personal and professional perspectives about the gases released as a contributor to air pollution during and after the collapse.
AMAZON DIGITAL SERVICES
I Heard the Sirens Scream: How Americans Responded to the 9/11 and Anthrax Attacks by Laurie Garrett. $5.99 Kindle e-book
Science writer Garrett, who wrote The Coming Plague for FSG 16 years ago, has self-published this urgent study as an e-book. In it, she offers a firsthand account of the first 120 days following 9/11 as she and colleagues closely watched the hazardous conditions unfold; she chronicles “the plume” and where it went, and also weighs in onthe anthrax scare of that autumn.
9/11 Ten Years Later: When State Crimes Against Democracy Succeed by David Ray Griffin. $18 trade paper ISBN 978-1-56656-868-5; Sept. 1
In his 10th book on 9/11, Griffin questions the motives behind mainstream media following the attacks and argues that “state crimes against democracy can be hidden in plain sight,” and that many have indeed been hidden in the aftermath of the attacks.
Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can’t Stand Up to the Facts, edited by David Dunbar and Brad Reagan; foreword by James B. Miegs. $17.95 trade paper ISBN 978-1-58816-547-3; Aug.
A “thorough update” of the 2005 investigation by Popular Mechanics magazine into the flurry of engineering, metal stress, and physics evidence that is challenged by several schools of conspiracy theorists in the “Truth” movement.
9/11 The Simple Facts: Why the Official Story Can’t Possibly Be True by Arthur Naiman, with Gregg Roberts. $12 trade paper ISBN 978-1-59376-424-1; Sept.
This account rounds up architects to question the common narrative.
FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX
The Submission: A Novel by Amy Waldman. $26 ISBN 978-0-374-27156-5; Aug.
9/11 has attracted novelists, of course— Don DeLillo, Jonathan Safran Foer, Ian McEwan, among others. The latest is Waldman, whose book Richard Price called “a wrenching panoramic novel about the politics of grief in the wake of 9/11.” PW found the work “frighteningly plausible and tightly wound.” It introduces a Muslim architect selected to design a ground zero memorial.
Faces of Hope 10 Years Later: Babies Born on 9/11 by Christine Pisera Naman. $10.95 trade paper ISBN 978-0-7573-1626-5; Aug.
Naman, whose son, Trevor, was born on 9/11, gathers photos of her son and 49 other babies who share the same birthday on September 11 all across the U.S.
America Is Under Attack by Don Brown, $16.99 ISBN 978-1-59643-694-7;Aug. Ages 6–10
Brown narrates and illustrates the events of 9/11 in a way that kids can understand.
LERNER/TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY BOOKS
Osama bin Laden: The Life and Death of 9/11 al-Qaeda Mastermind by Elaine Landau. ISBN 978-0-7613-8878-4
Landau tells the story of bin Laden’s life, career as a freedom fighter and terrorist, and his dramatic capture and death in May.
With Their Eyes, September 11th: The View from a High School at Ground Zero, edited by Annie Thoms; foreword by Anna Deavere Smith. $8.99 trade paper ISBN 978-0-06-051718-2; Sept.
This is a reissue of a remarkable text for performance written under the supervision of Thoms, an English teacher at Stuyvesant High School, located on the edge of ground zero. Students worked through their emotions and told their eyewitness accounts in the “documentary theatre” style pioneered by Smith.
September 11, 2001: Attack on New York City by Wilborn Hampton. $12.99 trade paper ISBN 978-0-7636-5767-3; Sept.
PW called this newly reissued account, written by former New York Times foreign desk editor Hampton, “riveting.... Strong, and occasionally rawly emotional” in a starred review of the first edition in 2003. Maps and black-and-white photos making it a calm but authoritative account for children. Ages 10–up.
This list was compiled with the assistance of Kenya Walker.