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Liberty Street: Encounters at Ground Zero Hardcover – May 31, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Although cameras were prohibited at Ground Zero during the cleanup, Josyph, maker of the documentary Liberty Street: Alive at Ground Zero, surreptitiously filmed workers and residents as they salvaged the ravaged Financial District. He defends his clandestine actions, reasoning, "If I was out of line in wanting the world to see this, the line itself was out of line, for it was a critical entitlement for anybody touched by the news of the 11th." Armed with his video camera, Josyph grew close to carpenters, shoeshiners, dockbuilders and other locals who were affected by the attack that "generated an urban black hole, a nexus of negative energy that would suck down and disappear everything in its vicinity." Josyph's vivid accounts of being near Ground Zero long after September 11 (the area was blanketed by a stagnant "odor that even attacked lamentation itself," and all of his video footage "was tracked with the harsh metallic turbulence of the work, and pierced by the ubiquitous backup beeps of grapplers and trucks") create a clear picture of a singular time in a unique neighborhood, and his decision to ignore regulations and film the neighborhood's reconstruction is one that will prove essential to historical record. 21 illustrations.
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In Liberty Street: Encounters at Ground Zero, Peter Josyph, an author and filmmaker, transforms his documentary film about the attack and its aftermath into a personal, impressionistic, almost poetic account... He artfully weaves together transcripts of his interviews... to produce what he describes as 'eyewitness studies of how urban catastrophe impacts the population and transforms the psychic and physical form of the city.'"--New York Times, Neighborhood Report
"Josyph's vivid accounts of being near Ground Zero long after September 11... create a clear picture of a singular time in a unique neighborhood, and his decision to ignore regulations and film the neighborhood's reconstruction is one that will prove essential to historical record."--Publishers Weekly
Top customer reviews
The sections where Josyph talks about the odor and dust of the 11th are examples of his best writing. More than anything, this book shows how one event became an integrated part of New York and New Yorkers - both mentally and, perhaps most interestingly, physically.
In other books, Josyph has proven to be a gifted interviewer and the last part of the book shows his skills as an interview yet again. His talk with Atlantic Monthly correspondent William Langwiesche (author of American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center) is one of the highlights of this book. Josyph's chapter on the nausea he started to feel whenever and wherever he saw a construction sight is a fascinating piece. It's understandable why writing about this strange phenomenon would eventually steer Josyph towards writing an entire book, rather than just an essay on the nausea as first intended.
Writing as an artist, Josyph's view on things is unique. The juxtaposition of great beauty and immense destruction shows the commplexity of the 11th in every aspect of whatever "the 11th" means to different people. In the song "On that Day" about 9/11 Leonard Cohen sings "Did you go crazy / or did you report / on that day". Josyph reported. Maybe he went crazy as well, but it was a craze that drove him to find answers. The result is an important historical document that deserves to be on the shelf with any other great volume on 9/11.