This week’s New York is a double issue dedicated entirely to September 11, ten years later. After an opening essay by Frank Rich, entitled “Day’s End,” the rest of the magazine is made up of The Encyclopedia of 9/11, an A–Z remembrance of the people, places, pictures, and much more, that defined the days, weeks, and years following the fall of the Twin Towers. There’s a lot to digest in the issue, and the entries range from a few sentences to essay-length, so here’s a quick primer on some of the many highlights:
The Political Fallout of 9/11
• Presidential historian Robert Dallek assesses George W. Bush, and explains why he will likely remain in the bottom tier of presidents.
• Mark Danner analyzes how torture has become a policy choice, rather than something beyond the pale.
• Mark Lilla looks at the phrase “Never Forget” and discusses his surprise that we didn’t — except for some of the most important things.
• Mark Green supplies his first-person account (online only) of the decisive weeks of the 2001 and 2002 mayoral campaign, and the backstage wrangling that went on over Rudy’s extended term.
• Ben Wallace-Wells analyzes what “America” came to mean after 9/11, and how Bin Laden got his metaphorical read on this country right.
• Franklin Foer chronicles how the meaning of the word “freedom” changed, from W. to “freedom fries” to Jonathan Franzen.
The Cultural Fallout
• Michael Hirschorn explains why Graydon Carter wasn’t totally wrong about the death of irony, actually.
• In a virtual companion piece, Peter Kaplan parses “ironic New York,” pre-9/11.
• Terry Castle wrestles with the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen’s controversial — yet penetrating — comments about 9/11 as art of the Sublime.
• Emily Nussbaum examines how Sex and the City coped with 9/11 surprisingly well.
• Gabriel Sherman explains how Condé Nast wound up in the Freedom Tower.
• Justin Davidson reviews Michael Arad’s memorial.
• Michael Idov details the extraordinary lengths that the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner still goes to in order to identify remains.
• Jay McInerney on the most mysterious (and glamorous) 9/11 missing person.
Heroes Tell Their Stories
• A gripping first-person account of a reporter fighting his way to The Wall Street Journal offices (across the street from WTC) on the morning of 9/11, only to find them empty and half destroyed.
• A heartbreaking first-person tale of one husband’s good-bye call to his wife
• The heroic escape story of how four people went down 80 floors before Tower A collapsed.
• Firemen talk about the burden of being martyrs.
• Dan P. Lee’s take on what would have happened if Michael Jackson, Liz Taylor, and Brando really did flee 9/11 in a car together, as myth would have it (they didn’t)
See the entire 9/11 Encyclopedia here.