Books about 9/11
The 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks has brought a swirl of emotion and a slew of new books. Many of these works seek to capture the feelings that still run high a decade later. Common themes emerge: a desire to understand a world in which such violence exists, to hunt down our enemies, to memorialize the fallen, and to rebound from our losses and renew ourselves in a changed world. These books cover an enormous amount of ground and, taken as a whole, give a sweeping look at what happened, how it came it pass, who was behind it, what we could have done better both beforehand and in the aftermath and — most dramatically — how the events on that sunny September morning have overshadowed every day since.
BEFORE THE ATTACKS
The Disaster Experts: Mastering Risk in Modern America , by Scott Gabriel Knowles (Univ. of Pennsylvania, $45). A history professor shows how a cadre of professionals — engineers, scientists, journalists, insurance inspectors, public officials, civil defense planners and emergency managers — have ill-prepared us for disasters from 9/11 to Katrina.
Divided We Stand: A Biography of the World Trade Center , by Eric Darton (Basic; paperback, $16.99). This new edition of a 1999 book looks at the billion-dollar towers from the perspective of the worlds of sky-high construction, financial speculation and terrorism.
The World Trade Center Remembered , photographs by Sonja Bullaty and Angelo Lomeo, text by Paul Goldberger (Abbeville; paperback, $19.95). The towers are captured here in all seasons and from all directions — Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan, New Jersey, Uptown — with text that highlights their civic and architectural significance.
Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can’t Stand Up to the Facts , edited by David Dunbar and Brad Reagan (Hearst; paperback, $17.95). The editors of Popular Mechanics debunk 20 of the most prominent 9/11 conspiracy theories.
The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden , by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan (Ballantine, $30). This wide-angle look at the attacks and what followed examines the personalities behind the terror plot, U.S. intelligence blunders, the toxic environmental impact on first responders, the march to war, gray areas in the 9/11 Commission Report and various conspiracy theories.
9/11: Stories of Courage, Heroism and Generosity , compiled by Tim Zagat (Zagat Survey, $24.95). First-person tales of business people, school administrators, chefs and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and New York governor George Pataki.
102 Minutes: The Unforgettable Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers , by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn (Times; paperback, $17). Revised edition of New York Times reporters’ account of the struggles and determination of World Trade Center occupants immediately after the attack.
One Nation: America Remembers September 11, 2001, Ten Years Later , foreword by Tom Brokaw (Little Brown, $29.99). Text and photos from Life magazine document the disaster and its impact.
What We Saw: The Events of September 11, 2001 — in Words, Pictures, and Video , by CBS News (Simon & Schuster, $29.99). Articles, essays and photos that appeared in the days after 9/11; includes a DVD of CBS News coverage.
WTC: In Their Own Words — A Highly Detailed, In-Depth Look at the Response to the Worst Terrorist Attack on American Soil on September 11, 2001 , edited by Harvey Eisner (Cygnus Business Media; paperback, $39.95). This Firehouse magazine special edition mixes history, photos, maps and diagrams with firefighter interviews, and includes a DVD containing video and radio traffic from 9/11.
Dust: The Inside Story of Its Role in the September 11th Aftermath , by Paul J. Lioy (Rowman & Littlefield; paperback, $18.95). A professor of evironmental medicine examines the dust produced by the disintegration of the World Trade Center and the response by public officials to its environmental effects.
Memory Remains: 9/11 Artifacts at Hangar 17 , by Francesc Torres (National Geographic, $50). Spanish photographer Torres brings to life remnants of Ground Zero — burned fire trucks, shredded clothing, crumpled police cars, mangled file cabinets — preserved inside a hangar at John F. Kennedy airport.
Remembering 9/11 , by Martha Cooper (Mark Batty; paperback, $10.95). Photojournalist Cooper captures images of street memorials that went up shortly after the attacks and provides her meditations translated in a variety of languages.
We’re Not Leaving: 9/11 Responders Tell Their Stories of Courage, Sacrifice, and Renewal , by Benjamin J. Luft (Greenpoint; paperback, $20). Police officers, firefighters, construction workers and other volunteers at the disaster site describe what they saw and did.
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 (New Press, $26.95). Oral histories describe how New York City fared and evolved in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks.
A Decade of Hope: Stories of Grief and Endurance From 9/11 Families and Friends , by Dennis Smith with Deirdre Smith (Viking, $26.95). Families of victims and rescue crews tell their tales in this follow-up to Smith’s “Report From Ground Zero.”
FDNY 2001-2011: A Decade of Remembrance and Resilience , with an introduction by George W. Bush (M.T. Publishing, $39.95). Photos from fire department archives featuring operations over the past decade in response to 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake and the airliner landing in the Hudson.
The Legacy Letters: Messages of Life and Hope From 9/11 Family Members , edited by Brian Curtis (Perigee, $22). A collection of letters written by family and friends to lost loved ones.
Messages: Signs, Visits, and Premonitions From Loved Ones Lost on 9/11 , by Bonnie McEneaney (Harper; paperback, $14.99). A woman whose husband died in the attacks describes spiritual signs from him and explores similar experiences reported by others who lost loved ones.
Poetry After 9/11: An Anthology of New York Poets , edited by Dennis Loy Johnson and Valerie Merians (Melville House; paperback, $14.95). Contributions from 45 poets writing in New York immediately after the attacks.
Project Rebirth: Survival and the Strength of the Human Spirit From 9/11 Survivors , by Robin Stern and Courtney E. Martin (Dutton, $25.95). In this companion to the documentary “Rebirth,”a psychoanalyst and a journalist consider the resilience of those who lost loved ones.
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 (Skyhorse, $24.95). Benfante, catapulted to hero status after he was photographed carrying a wheelchair-bound woman down 68 floors and out of the World Trade Center, tells his post-9/11 tale of emotional and economic hardships and the searing guilt of a survivor.
Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero , by Michael Hingson with Susy Flory (Thomas Nelson, $22.99). Hingson relied on his dog to steer him through a stairwell to escape from the 78th floor of the World Trade Center’s North Tower.
Unmeasured Strength , by Lauren Manning (Henry Holt, $25). A Wall Street executive who suffered burns over 80 percent of her body in the World Trade Center flames describes what she learned about human endurance and survival.
Until the Fires Stopped Burning: 9/11 and New York City in the Words and Experiences of Survivors and Witnesses , by Charles B. Strozier (Columbia Univ., $26.95). Historian and psychoanalyst Strozier interprets 9/11 witnesses’ experiences in light of other devastations such as Hiroshima, Auschwitz and Katrina.
Where You Left Me: A Memoir , by Jennifer Gardner Trulson (Gallery, $25). This 35-year-old widow with young children describes losing her husband on 9/11 and finding a second chance at love.
THE WAR ON TERROR
Bin Laden’s Legacy: Why We’re Still Losing the War on Terror , by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross (Wiley, $25.95). A D.C. counterterrorism expert argues that strategic missteps in the U.S. fight against al-Qaeda squandered billions of dollars and produced an inefficient bureaucracy that has unwittingly assisted the terrorist organization in achieving its goals.
Confronting Terror: 9/11 and the Future of American National Security , edited by Dean Reuter and John Yoo (Encounter, $23.95). Former Bush Justice Department official Yoo writes on interrogation in this collection of essays by figures such as former homeland security secretary Michael Chertoff and former attorney general John Ashcroft.
A History of the World Since 9/11: Disaster, Deception, and Destruction in the War on Terror , by Dominic Streatfeild (Bloomsbury, $28). A journalist and documentary filmmaker explores why winning the war on terror remains elusive 10 years into the battle.
9/11: Was There an Alternative? by Noam Chomsky (Seven Stories; paperback, $13.95). This update of Chomsky’s book published shortly after the attacks includes a new essay addressing 10 years of war and the killing of Osama bin Laden.
The 9/11 Effect: Comparative Counter-Terrorism , by Kent Roach (Cambridge Univ.; paperback, $28.99). A Canadian law professor examines how the United Nations and a range of countries from the United States and the United Kingdom to Egypt and Indonesia responded to the terror attacks.
Patriot Acts: Narratives of Post-9/11 Injustice , compiled and edited by Alia Malek (McSweeney’s/Voice of Witness, $24). Oral histories from people subjected to human and civil rights abuses such as rendition, torture, workplace discrimination, FBI surveillance and harassment.
The Rise and Fall of al-Qaeda , by Fawaz A. Gerges (Oxford Univ., $24.95). The director of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics argues that al-Qaeda has attracted little popular support within the Arab world and degenerated into a fractured, marginal force.
Taking Liberties: The War on Terror and the Erosion of Democracy , by Susan N. Herman (Oxford Univ., $24.95). The president of the American Civil Liberties Union assesses the human and social costs of the war on terror.
9/11: The World Speaks (Lyons, $24.95). A selection from the 200,000 tribute cards written in 47 languages by people from 120 countries who have filed through the galleries of the Tribute WTC Visitor Center across from the World Trade Center site.
Ten Years: Remembering 9/11 , by Marie Triller (John Isaacs; paperback, $29.95). Photographer Triller presents images of Sept. 11 memorials over the past decade.
Ten Years Later (Granta; paperback, $16.99) The autumn issue of Granta contains essays on how the world has changed since 9/11 by contributors such as Moroccan novelist Tahar Ben Jelloun, writer Pico Iyer and journalist Anthony Shadid.
Steven Levingston is nonfiction editor of Book World.