Reading September 11, 2001: A chronological Bibliography
Immediately following the attacks on September 11, 2001, people around the world began to write books and make films reflecting their analyses, theories and reactions. They published in quantity and with great speed as they sought to comprehend a changed world. UCDavis librarians determined to acquire a selection of those books and films in order to document the range and depth of responses published in the United States and abroad. The UCDavis library catalog, Harvest, now contains records of thousands of books, videos and government documents related to the September 11 and all that has followed. Nearly 700 of them have been cataloged under a single subject heading—“September 11 2001 terrorist attacks.” This guide presents a chronological selection of the books and films (but not government documents) listed under this subject heading. Some of these titles were acquired within months of the attacks while others have arrived within the past few weeks. Year by year, these books and films show how initial responses evolved into recurring themes and how new issues emerged as time continues to pass.
Perhaps our earliest volume is an anthology that was rapidly but thoughtfully assembled at UC Berkeley in October 2001. September 11 : context and consequences. It sought to “provide a collection of resources to promote critical thinking and informed debate” that could help us frame and begin to answer the questions we have struggled with ever since.
What we see in the materials we’ve collected are the very human attempts to comprehend the enormity of the attacks, to make them meaningful and to understand how they have changed our lives. Some books reflect the desire to assign responsibility for the attacks and their aftermath from perspectives across the political spectrum. Others seek to find meaning in the attacks where that meaning is personal in some cases, national or universal in others. We see a search for heroes and villains. We see some people excercising their favorite hobbyhorses while others engage in fundamental reassessments of their worldviews.
Questions asked in these volumes and films vary from the intellectual and political to the personal. We ask why has the dominant narrative of September 11 focused so heavily on the World Trade Center to the relative exclusion of the two other attacks. And equally we want to know how to talk about this world-changing event to our children. Poets, artists, musicians all produced works inspired by the attacks.
Ten years on, it is difficult to recall just how we all felt on that day and in the weeks after. Reading UCDavis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef’s first post-attack email to the campus feels both familiar and strange. It serves as a starting point to reflect on the changes in how we have viewed, written and read about September 11, 2001 in the past ten years. The books and films listed here are just a small sample of what the University Library has to offer as we seek to understand the changes wrought in our lives and our world since September 11, 2001.
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