In November 2009, I spent a week with my head buried in textbooks as far as the eye can see. Where can one do this? At the one and only Georg Eckert Institute in Brunschweig, Germany, home to over 100,000 textbooks from scores of countries.
I was on a research trip collecting clippings, searching for retellings of 9/11 in history textbooks from all over the world. It was a bit like a treasure hunt – and a coded one at that. As I spoke painfully few of the languages in the books I was sifting through I found myself looking for clues – dates, names, catch words – to tip me off about the mention of the event. But sometimes even these don’t jump out, especially for languages with non-Roman alphabets.