Days After

At the moment of catastrophe we fall silent. Language fails.

The words come back; understanding takes much longer. As we return to normal—or to the state of heightened alertness we now call normal—we return to the task of explicating a world which seems suddenly to have become inexplicable.


Reflections by our authors in the aftermath

Terror and Gallows Humor: After September 11? by Wendy Doniger
"Why was it so important to know when, and how, it was OK to joke about the terrorist attacks?"
On Edge, Again by Max Page
"Despite the repeated statement that the events of September 11 were unimaginable, our culture has been imagining, rehearsing, these events for years."
Metaphors of Terror by George Lakoff
"Tall buildings are metaphorically people standing erect. As each tower fell, it became a body falling. We are not consciously aware of the metaphorical images, but they are part of the power and the horror we experience when we see them."
Islam Has Been Hijacked, And Only Muslims Can Save It by Jonathan Rauch
"On September 11, history saddled Muslims with a special obligation to speak out in specific and unequivocal terms against terror in any and all its guises."
Awe and Anxiety by Mark C. Taylor
"There has been much talk about the role of religion in this conflict but very little understanding of what religion—either our own or the religions of others—involves."
Report from Liberty Street by Charles Bernstein
"There are so many troops that the metaphor of a war zone dissolves into an actuality. Liberty Street is an occupied zone. We have occupied ourselves."
From the Ashes, Patriotism Reborn by Walter Berns
"The terrorists unwittingly reminded us that this country is, as Lincoln said it was during the worst of wars, 'the last, best hope of earth.'"
A Traveling Islam by AbdouMaliq Simone
"The 'terrorists' have traveled. They have come to America. And for many, they must have found America also stultifying, living as they often did in vacuous suburbs with strip malls, Chuck E. Cheese, and sports bars."
An Arab American Internment? by Eric L. Muller
"Within a few months of Pearl Harbor, the federal government uprooted all 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast, aliens and U.S. citizens alike, and jailed them in camps. With upwards of three million people of Arab descent living in America, we must now ask ourselves: Could it happen again?"


Books relevant to the context of September 11, 2001

9/11 and the aftermath

Islamic fundamentalism and Islamic states

War, peace, and global issues

Islam: religion and civilization

Hotspots: ethnic conflict and violence


The American Association of University Presses has a collective bibliography of related books: go to Books for Understanding on the AAUP website.

[This site was created by the University of Chicago Press in the days and weeks after September 11, 2001, as a place for the creation and collection of writings by our authors about 9/11. The book list was last updated in 2006.]