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After: How America Confronted the September 12 Era Kindle Edition

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Length: 736 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

Between the World and Me
2015 National Book Awards - Nonfiction Winner
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Editorial Reviews Review

Within moments after the collapse of the World Trade Center, the attack on the Pentagon, and the downing of United Airlines Flight 93 over a field in Pennsylvania, the shocked world knew that much more than the spectacular New York City skyline had changed forever. Steven Brill shows us how profoundly true that is in this richly detailed, day-by-day account of how America mobilized to protect our now-clearly-vulnerable homeland and to help rebuild not just Ground Zero, but the thousands of shattered lives that were affected by the attacks. One marvels at the extent of the destruction and at the speed of the response. However, After does not present an always-pretty picture of good will and cooperation. Instead, we are shown a year of stunning juxtapositions: of extraordinary charity, brain power, and good intentions versus greed, self-interest, and bureaucratic incompetence. "It would all make for a harrowing test of a system in which all the players in this American symphony square off in a robust, often messy clash of ideas and special interests that is supposed to produce the public interest."

Brill presents a cross-section of the constituencies that were suddenly bound together after the catastrophe and deftly interweaves their stories. The book is at once personal and public, intimate and far-reaching. However, because of its very scope, it is at times ponderous. Many of the power players are familiar--Ashcroft, Schumer, and Ridge--but it is the others--the victims' families, the border patrol and customs officers, the newly targeted members of the Arab community--that give this story a human face. As Brill suggests, the story of After is far from complete. While some of the challenges presented in the book have been resolved, we know we will be confronting many of the others for years to come. --Silvana Tropea

From Publishers Weekly

Brill, journalist and entrepreneur (founder of the ill-fated Brill's Content magazine), has written a sprawling, panoramic account of life after September 11. Proceeding on an almost day-by-day basis through the year after the attacks, he employs documentary-style crosscuts between episodes in the lives of a dramatis personae that is impressively and appropriately large and diverse. There are poignant but unsentimental portraits of the families of three of the victims. Brill follows several government agents on the front lines after the attacks, including a whistleblower from the hapless INS. Executives from Raytheon and a bomb-screening business angle for gain from the new homeland security regime, while the CEOs of an airport and an insurance company confront perilous losses. Brill, founder of Court TV, perceptively explains the legal battles of World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein and the theory behind the Victim Compensation Fund. Among the powerful, most notably rendered is Attorney General John Ashcroft, who comes off as heedlessly overzealous in his pursuit of terrorists. In contrast, Sen. Charles Schumer and homeland security chief Tom Ridge get respectful, sometimes cozy, treatment. To the extent that there's a theme to Brill's headlong narrative, it is the resilience of America's system of clashing interest groups. But the real achievement here is to convey the scope of the tragedy's consequences, which somewhat excuses the book's scattershot quality. Brill is no prose stylist, and the episodic, chronological method makes for a repetitive and long book. Still, Brill often displays formidable journalistic research, sharp reporting and lively characterizations.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2105 KB
  • Print Length: 736 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0743237099
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (April 7, 2003)
  • Publication Date: April 7, 2003
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,690,822 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"The terrorists' goal is fear, not conquest," states Steven Brill in his treatise on the attacks on America in September 2001. "If terrorists can convince enough people to be scared because their government hasn't figured out how to deal with any number of threats at the same time, they win. Yet from a political point of view, if he or she alarms people so much by talking about all the threats and making the price of addressing them so onerous in terms of freedom, cost, and convenience, the terrorists win that way, too."
AFTER: How America Confronted the September 12 Era is the story of how the nation banded together and fought those fears. In the dark days that followed what will be forever remembered simply as "9/11," millions of people, Americans and non-Americans, wondered how life could ever return to normal. But in Steven Brill's commendable book, readers will learn how quickly attempts were made to get the nation back on track.
Of course, the focus that day was on the victims who perished or were injured in the horrific attacks. The days that followed were filled with palpable sadness and mourning. Jews traditionally have a seven-day period of mourning, after which it is time to get on with life.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By B-Man on March 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book follows everyday people, key political figures, and various other business and charity organizers and shows how their lives changed in the days, weeks, months and year after 9/11. What starts to emerge from a thoughtful reading of this book is that it reflects Americans and the United States in all its strengths and all its weaknesses. The people described and the country is not perfect, but the issues and pressures that are faced hour by hour, day by day, etcetera is truly remarkable. There is constant give and take as differing idealogies and philosophies of the freedom America should bring is played out, but in fast forward. Decisions, bills (both those needing to be paid and ones on Capitol Hill), opportunities, and obstacles come up and are dealt with, for better or worse in retrospect.
The only 9/11 book that comes close to this sort of balanced and careful analysis, albeit still early in the history of the post 9/11 era, is Inside 9/11 by the editors of Der Spiegel.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on January 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In the wake of the 911 tragedy came a virtual tidal wave of tomes relating in one fashion or another to the effects and meaning of the events of that fateful day. Yet with all those books, none has succeeded quite so colorfully or in such an entertaining and edifying fashion as has noted journalist Steven Brill in "After: How America Confronted The September 12 Era". Focusing on the individual lives of a variety of different people from any of a number of separate and distinct walks of life, Brill pulls us up close and personal into the vortex of what is swirling around within the events and consequences flowing from the actions of nineteen madmen bent on murder and mayhem. Yet this is not a maudlin book, in the sense that it concentrates on a tragic event and its aftermath. Instead, it is a celebration of why we Americans have much to be proud of regarding the conduct of many of the involved individuals.
The book, while meticulously noted and researched, flows rather like a work of fiction, moving us with its portrayal of the shuddering impact of the day's events. Yet, despite its stirring narrative and impressive dialogue, each of the characters in this well-written work are real breathing individuals, most of them still walking among us, most of them still relatively anonymous. And it is due to this sheer raw humanity exposed in its most vulnerable moments of loss and renewal. In so doing, Brill offers us a stirring and unforgettable portrait of how our culture works.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John D. Cofield TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Steven Brill is a graduate of Yale Law and the founder of Court TV, so After is dominated by a lawyerly insistence on detail and accuracy. The events of September 11 itself are relegated to a prologue of two dozen pages or so. The rest of the 700+ pages (including notes and index) are made up of descriptions of how America dealt with the changes brought about by the terrorist attacks. This could be incredibly tedious in the wrong hands, but Brill is a master at capturing the humanity of his subjects, whom he follows in a diary like format for a full year. I especially enjoyed following the travails of Sal Iacono, whose shoe repair shop was devastated by the attacks but who was fortunate enough to find a dedicated pro bono lawyer who helped him get the grants and loans he needed to recover. Brill's coverage of the difficulties faced by the families of three of those killed in the World Trade Center is sensitive but thorough. Some people and groups come off better than others. Senator Chuck Schumer and Governor Tom Ridge both get high marks for their dedication to solving the myriad problems of the period. Attorney General John Ashcroft appears as a man of limited intellectual curiosity determined to fight terrorism no matter how much he tramples on the Constitution. (The ACLU's leader makes an interesting counterfoil to Ashcroft.) The Red Cross appears first as an organization too eager to collect funds and too reluctant to disperse them, then as being so reckless in spending that multiple abuses take place.
The book ends on a hopeful note in January of 2003, with the US now better prepared for future terrorist attacks and with its basic values intact. After should be one of the books historians turn to in order to understand how we coped with the period after September 11.
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