If you ever thought a book couldn’t be more powerful than a video, or television, or a film, I’m here to tell you you’re wrong. Two books crossed my desk that would change your mind. One is 9/11: The World Speaks, 9780762777990, $27.50 CDN, from Globe Pequot. The simplicity of the format is what makes this so powerful; they are cards written by visitors from around the world who came to the Tribute WTC Visitor Centre, detailing their thoughts about 9/11 and how it affected them. One English visitor simply wrote, “Why?” A French visitor wrote, “On Sept. 11, 2001, the whole world forgot their religions, their differences of colour, their political ideas. On September 11, the whole world was horrified.” There are of course some Canadian comments, including one from a Newfoundlander who’d opened her house to the floods of stranded tourists who ended up diverted from New York to the Maritimes. In the front of the book is a map showing all the countries where the writers came from, and it’s a pretty eclectic mix; this might make an excellent teaching tool as well.
The other book is Aftermath: World Trade Centre Archive, 9780714862125, $39.95 CDN, Phaidon by Joel Meyerowitz. It’s stunning - an oversized, 11” by 15’ full-colour photographic journal of what happened after the World Trade Centre fell. The photographs are astonishingly powerful, as are the stories behind them: a Broadway musician standing in the middle of the ruins, playing Taps as a personal salute to the fallen; a group of dirty, tired firemen, sitting on scrounged and absurdly expensive office chairs; the day members of the Arson Squad, digging in the ruins, were surrounded by swarms of Monarch butterflies, tapping on their helmets in the smoke, and one of them stood up and simply said, “Souls." Meyerowitz documented the eerie beauty of the ruins, but also the amazing faces of the firemen, policemen and construction workers who pulled it all so carefully apart, and quite often in constant danger. It’s a must-have book, and it will break your heart.
As anti-war, and anti-terrorism statements, I’d say these two are some of the best.