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9/11 and New York City in the Words and Experiences of Survivors and Witnesses

by Charles B. Strozier

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-231-15898-5
Publisher: Columbia Univ.

Psychoanalyst Strozier (History/John Jay College of Criminal Justice; Heinz Kohut: The Making of a Psychoanalyst, 2001, etc.) assembles a scattershot account of 9/11 and its social significance, the release of which is timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

The book draws on interviews with those who witnessed the events of 9/11 firsthand, the author's own account of these events and reported statistics about the physical destruction and environmental damage wrought by the disaster. Many books have been written about 9/11, and many have incorporated the accounts of eyewitnesses. Strozier's book theoretically provides the added benefit of an experienced psychoanalyst's interpretation and analysis of such accounts. Unfortunately, the author's conclusions are generally less valuable and insightful than they are obvious—9/11 tapped into people's fears of apocalyptic nuclear disaster; 9/11 was more traumatic for New Yorkers than it was for Iowans—or irrelevant (Strozier lengthily chronicles his feelings about his son's stalled career as a chef). Further, the prose is jargon-heavy and often feels forced—e.g., “My discussion of the traumatic meanings of 9/11 in this context of the zones of sadness does not try formally to locate my analysis in the academic or psychoanalytic literature on trauma.” Strozier watched the events of 9/11 unfold from the relative safety of Greenwich Village, and he did not lose anyone with whom he was close. Despite his repeatedly asserted desire to show sensitivity toward those who suffered more than he, readers may find it difficult not to find his book self-indulgent.

Slapdash and unilluminating.