recommended reading: remembering 9/11

There has been a deluge of stories on 9/11 and its aftermath in the past week, ranging from the personal to political to polemic, some looking back on the past 10 years, some looking forward to what could come.  I’ve been trying to keep a close eye on who’s been writing what on the issue, and have generated a small list on some of the standouts.  See below for a few recommendations, and feel free to comment with your own – I’d like to keep this list growing with suggestions.

  • A Decade After 9/11: We Are What We Loathe,” by Chris Hedges, TruthDig.  10 September 2011.  Chris Hedges writes a stunning piece 9/11 and its aftermath.  It was this paragraph – and the very last one in the story, but I’ll let you come to that one on your own – in particular that caught me:

Reporters in moments of crisis become clinicians. They collect data, facts, descriptions, basic information, and carry out interviews as swiftly as possible. We make these facts fit into familiar narratives. We do not create facts but we manipulate them. We make facts conform to our perceptions of ourselves as Americans and human beings. We work within the confines of national myth. We make journalism and history a refuge from memory. The pretense that mass murder and suicide can be transformed into a tribute to the victory of the human spirit was the lie we all told to the public that day and have been telling ever since. We make sense of the present only through the lens of the past, as the French philosopher Maurice Halbwachs pointed out, recognizing that “our conceptions of the past are affected by the mental images we employ to solve present problems, so that collective memory is essentially a reconstruction of the past in the light of the present. … Memory needs continuous feeding from collective sources and is sustained by social and moral props.”

  • 9/11: The Decennial Review,” by Harper’s editors, Harper’s Magazine.  9 September 2011.  Harper’s compiles all their weekly reviews relating to the “war on terrorism,” creating what they call a quasi-narrative on the subject.  A fascinating evolution to read, to see how we were responding to the events as they were unfolding.  The first entry is particularly shocking to relive.
  • The Uses and Misuses of 9/11,” by Robert Klitzman, The Nation.  9 September 2011.  The brother of a woman who was killed in the World Trade Center speaks to the way that the memory of the fallen has been co-opted for political aims.
  • The Legacy of 9/11: An Institutionalization of Terror at Home and Abroad,” by Chip Pitts, Nation of Change.  10 September 2011.
  • The Best, Most Damning Reports of the 9/11 Era,” Lois Beckett, Braden Goyette, and Marian Wang, ProPublica. 9 September 2011.  ProPublica‘s own compilation of analyses and reports on various aspects of 9/11 and its fallout.
  • A 9/11 Coloring Book,” by Elizabeth Minkel, The New Yorker.  1 September 2011.  (See the actual product here.)
  • Teaching students about 9/11 presents challenges,” by Teresa Wantabe, Los Angeles Times.  10 September 2011.
  • An Era in Ideas,” by various authors, The Chronicle Review.  7 August 2011.  As The Chronicle describes, “To mark the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, The Chronicle Review asked a group of influential thinkers to reflect on some of the themes that were raised by those events and to meditate on their meaning, then and now.”  Covering themes ranging from terrorism to justice to memory, some fascinating pieces in here.
  • How 9/11 Should be Remembered,” by Rebecca Solnit, TomDispatch.  10 September 2009.  Not new, but certainly still relevant.  A personal favorite of mine that I’ve returned to many, many times.

And last, but certainly not least.  “Listening Post – 9/11: When truth became a casualty of war,” Al Jazeera English.  10 September 2011.  A fantastic and absolutely vital examination of the affect of 9/11 on the news media over the past ten years.

See full documentary above.  It’s roughly 26 minutes long – and absolutely worth sitting down and watching the piece in full.


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