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Friday, September 10, 2010

9/11: 'Flashlight Worthy' Recommends 9 Unforgettable Books About September 11 (PHOTOS)

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9/11: 'Flashlight Worthy' Recommends 9 Unforgettable Books About September 11 (PHOTOS)

When I started Flashlight Worthy Book Recommendations -- a website full of hundreds of lists of great books -- I thought to myself "This will be fun! Book Club Recommendations and Beach Reads."
Little did I realize how eager people would be to see book lists on heavier topics such as The Holocaust, cancer and of course... 9/11.
See Also :

App Watch: Museum Looks at 9/11 Through Photos, Stories

Nine years after 9/11, a photo provides some peace

As someone who adopted New York as my home just two years before 9/11 -- and who watched the first tower fall with his own eyes -- I debated whether to create this book list. In the end though it deserves coverage like any other topic; ignoring it won't make it go away. I think that no matter your literal or emotional distance from Ground Zero on September 11, 2001 there's at least one book on this list for you.
Finally, while in my opinion these are some of the best books about 9/11, I'm sure there are dozens of excellent titles I've missed. If you know of any, drop by Flashlight Worthy and let me know what I've missed. 

'102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers' by Kevin Flynn and Jim Dwyer

As someone who's made his home in New York for the last 9 years -- and literally watched the first of the Twin Towers fall -- reading about 9/11 can be extremely difficult. This title -- a literal minute-by-minute account from the moment the first plane struck to the moment the 2nd tower fell -- strikes me as the perfect balance of dispassionate, inspiring and honest.


This was a small but important book. One of last Halberstam wrote (or maybe the last?) before he died, it covers the lives and motivations of the firefighters from a particular Manhattan firehouse ... almost all of whom died on 9/11.

'American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center' by William Langewiesche

As a New Yorker who watched 9/11 happen out my window, I'm pretty sure this is the first 9/11 book I read. Why this book? Because it bypasses the human tragedy and focuses on the massive engineering task involved in cleaning up the debris and preparing the site for new buildings. It sounds a little dry I know, but it moves quickly -- the pages fly by.

'The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation' by Ernie Colon, Sid Jacobson
If you're like me, the thought of sitting down to read the 9/11 Commission report -- as important as it is -- makes your eyes glaze over. No matter how important the topic, let's face it, it's a government report.

Fortunately this graphic novel takes the most important parts of the report and sets them to a visual depiction (still, with plenty of words) that makes the entire report not only palatable, but downright gripping.

9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States by National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States

For a government report, this "book" was a best-seller for months. I'll admit, I never read it -- I expect that as a New Yorker I already knew all I needed to know. But then I read the Graphic Novel adaptation and I now recognize that I was hasty. The report seems to read like a gripping thriller.

'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' by Jonathan Safran Foer

A brilliant story of how a child heals over a year's time after losing his father on 9/11. You'll likely shed a tear when it ends.
Portraits: 9/11/01: The Collected "Portraits of Grief" from The New York Times

Every day for the year or so following 9/11 the New York Times ran a photo and a brief biography/obituary of some of the individuals killed on 9/11. As you can imagine, this feature ran for some time before they worked their way through the thousands of victims. While I found the material a little dry, many New Yorkers were moved to tears on a daily basis.

For those looking for the human side of what happened, take a look at this book.

'The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11' by Lawrence Wright
The Looming Tower outlines the context of the attacks, from the point of view of Al Qaeda, and the important people within that group. The book provides a necessarily sweeping look at Islam and focuses on the difficult relationships between the FBI and the CIA, and how political infighting stifled knowledge sharing. Finally, the book brings to light the efforts of John P. O'Neill, who understood the nature of terrorism, long before it was manifested in the attacks of 9/11. Oh, and it won the Pulitzer Prize.

 Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey, illustrated by Maira Kalman

"WOW, WOW, WOW" is the best way to sum up how children feel about this fabulous children's book. One Flashlight Worthy fan emailed me and told me her son enjoyed it so much, she donated a copy to the library of his school.

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