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Watching the World Change: The Stories Behind the Images of 9/11 Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; First Edition edition (August 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312591489
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312591489
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #543,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Friend, a former director of photography at Life and currently editor of creative development at Vanity Fair, writes: "For many of us, photos are the glue we use to hold in place the disjointed bits of fiction and fact that make up the stories of our lives." In this important analysis of how images of 9/11 and the "war on terror" have altered our understanding of power, world politics, religion and identity, he successfully merges reportage and analysis as he interprets the images of falling towers, panic in Manhattan streets and prisoners at Abu Ghraib that have been burned into our brains. But Friend elevates the book to a higher level with his iridescent commentary on the broad political and philosophical implications of 9/11 photography. For example, he recognizes the need to identify victims of a disaster as well as the Orwellian impulses in potential federal programs to create national photo ID cards. And he takes on such complicated issues as self-censorship in the media and how the Bush administration quickly learned how to use images to kick-start and maintain the war on terror. Lucidly written and urgently argued, this essential book is a valuable addition to literature on contemporary media and current politics. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Friend, Emmy Award-winning executive director of the documentary 9/11, offers a perspective on the terrorist attack from the actions and emotions of photographers on hand that day. Pros and amateurs, fashion photographers and news photographers--some wrestling with the ethics of photographing such a tragedy, others gladly taking advantage of being in the right place at the right time for a once-in-a-lifetime shot--recall the harrowing physical and emotional positions they took to get their shots with Leicas, Mamiyas, and disposable cameras. A photographer who was at home when the nearby World Trade Center was struck started taking shots, then put down her camera in favor of her rescue skills and equipment. Others recall focusing on the humans in the foreground, providing perspective and registering their own emotions and sense of personal danger. From the iconic photo of three firefighters raising the American flag at ground zero to photos of the missing that were posted in the days and weeks following the disaster, this compelling book demonstrates the power and pathos of an unforgettable event. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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I love and hate this book.
Wayne L. Hill
The day was a perfect one for photography, a cloudless late-summer morning.
R. Hardy
An important and extremely well written book.
M. Kravitz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By C. Hutton on September 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Friend has written a wide-ranging analysis of 9-11 through his interpretation of the photographic record. Frame by frame, he gives a mini-discourse on the meaning of each photo then and subsequent political interpretations. "Watching the World Change" is not a book one will read straight through -- not given the images. It is a volume to ponder and think upon. For further viewing, the best photographic record is "Here is New York" (2002) with its nearly 1,000 photos of 9-11 and the days to follow. No commentary is necessary for this book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Dorothea B. Redenbaugh on September 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book should become required reading for the professional photographers. It also is one of the best written books I have ever read . This author takes you with him to point you feel you are witnessing the events of 9/11 and the aftermath along with the actual people of New York. I wish I had the money to buy a copy of this book for all the people who have not yet read it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. Kravitz on May 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A compelling and unique perspective on the World Trade Center terrorist attack. At times it reads like a breathless page-turning thriller as we relive events of that terrible day. But it's the larger picture that makes this book so gripping - the stories behind the still and moving images that are indelibly etched in our collective memories of 9/11. An important and extremely well written book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By MEM on September 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This beautifully written book describes the stories behind the images of September 11th in a gripping manner, but goes much further. The genius of the book is its analysis of the ways in which select images of 9/11 have been used by the media and the government to present a specific and calculated view of terrorism and world politics. The writing is exquisite and the analysis would make Marshall McLuhan proud. A must.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Burt Boyar on September 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I watched the 9/11 attack on television for hours, for days. I read about it in depth. I thought I could feel no deeper sympathy for the dead, their families, even myself for witnessing it, for having it happen to my country. But this book is even more vivid. You can't read it for long. You have to put it down. You need a break from drama this awful. The emotions whip you, twist your stomach. But then you have to pick it up again because neither can you stay away from it. Unforgettable. A tremendous reading experience.

Burt Boyar

Los Angeles, CA
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center was not only the biggest news event in decades, it was also the most photographed one. Some people by chance got pictures of Flight 11 crashing into the north tower, and after that the cameras never stopped. "Men and women by the hundreds, then thousands - bystanders with point-and-shoots, TV news teams, photojournalists by the score - felt compelled to snap history, fiery and cruel against the blue." So writes David Friend, who used to be the director of photography for _Life_ magazine, in _Watching the World Change: The Stories Behind the Images of 9/11_ (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux). You have heard plenty of 9/11 stories, but chances are you remember mostly the images. Friend makes the point that Americans who are old enough remember where they were when they _heard_ about JFK's shooting, but they remember where they were when they _saw_ the 9/11 terror attacks. The book is a lucid and fascinating recounting of how some of the most famous of the photographs came to be. It is not a coffee-table book full of photos; there are only forty or so reproduced here, but the recounting of the shots and the reflections on photography in the modern news era will make intense reading even for those who have seen the images over and over. And all of us have seen the images over and over; we cannot look away, which makes Friend's observations particularly pertinent.

The day was a perfect one for photography, a cloudless late-summer morning. When the first plane hit, cameras were already working at their previous jobs. There was an internet art exhibition that featured postcard panoramas of Manhattan every four seconds, the robot camera staring at the skyline and clicking away.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By William D. Tompkins on September 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a prefect craft of the power of photographs and everything that comes into play around shooting a cataclysmic disaster such as 9/11. The author has navigated the wherabouts of several people and what drove them to shoot that day and the affects of certain photos on our lives. The NOTES section at the end, the bibliography, is the best and most detailed that I've ever seen. Photos in the middle of the book are well used and described throughout the book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Betsy Schindler on November 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed knowing more about the photographers behind the photos. Some of the technical information was more than I needed, but it was very well written and I would recommend it.
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