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Until the Fires Stopped Burning: 9/11 and New York City in the Words and Experiences of Survivors and Witnesses Hardcover – September 6, 2011
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...Strozier's intimate yet comprehensive, visceral, and intellectual dissection of 10 years of trauma, fear, and recovery is full of pain and mystery, radiance and strength. (Booklist)
Based on the testimony of survivors, bystanders, spectators, and victims' friends and families, Until the Fires Stopped Burning brings much-needed clarity to the conscious and unconscious meaning of 9/11 and its relationships to historical disaster, apocalyptic experience, unnatural death, and the psychological endurance of trauma. Charles B. Strozier interprets and contextualizes the memories of witnesses, comparing their encounter with 9/11 to the devastation of Hiroshima, Auschwitz, Katrina, and other events. Organizing his study around "zones of sadness" in New York City, Strozier powerfully evokes the multiple places in which his respondents confronted 9/11 while remaining sensitive to the personal, social, and cultural differences of these experiences. Most important, he distinguishes between 9/11 as an apocalyptic event and an apocalyptic experience, which is crucial to understanding the attack's affect on American life and a still-evolving culture of fear in the world.
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According to author Charles B. Strozier, in his book Until the Fires Stopped Burning, people in or near the towers, close enough to encounter death, were "survivors," in zone 1. People who were not close enough to encounter death but were close enough to see the disaster unfold (e.g., the burning buildings from a few blocks away) were "witnesses," in zone 2. My friend's daughter was a "participant," in Zone 3, being part of that day's chaos and trauma in Manhattan. My colleagues and I were "onlookers," in Zone 4, seeing everything in a virtual manner, on TV. Strozier delineates these four zones of sadness to discuss his conclusions based on interviews and studies he has conducted over the last ten years. Descriptions of the zones of sadness make up Part One of the book.
Unfortunately, only Part One of the book's three Parts had any true emotional and intellectual force, in my opinion. I bought the book because I believed the author's conclusions and considerations after ten years of scrutiny would be informative, given that he was a psychoanalyst in Greenwich Village and a history professor at the John Jay College of the City University of New York, where he created a Center on Terrorism in the late fall of 2001. But in comparison to the first part of the book, the other two parts were either obvious comments related to PTSD sufferers, for instance (and true enough, but not new) or esoteric and seemed a stretch too often. Several chapters were only tenuously connected to 9/11. His chapter on "traumasong" was hardly relevant to the rest of the book.
Not proofreading, but overall in the book--and I did read the whole thing--I noticed ten typographical errors, more than I'd fear to see in a book published by renowned Columbia University Press. I assume the errors were introduced by going to press too quickly. My favorite, and not to make fun of the event or to titillate, but omigawd what a typo, presumably was made by a transcriptionist, but the author certainly should have caught it. He quotes a woman who gave birth on 9/11 at a hospital in Greenwich Village, sometime that day but after the event. The next day, going home on the F train with her day-old baby, she thought her "universe" would fall out on the train. I don't think so.