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Anniversary brings avalanche of 9/11 books

The tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks has unleashed a publishing avalanche, with a crush of new books about the fateful day and new editions of older works like Noam Chomsky's 9-11.

books Updated: Sep 06, 2011 09:40 IST

The tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks has unleashed a publishing avalanche, with a crush of new books about the fateful day and new editions of older works like Noam Chomsky's 9-11.

Among the new accounts is After the Fall: New Yorkers Remember September 11 and the Years that Followed," which sets out to show how New York changed after the attacks that brought down the World Trade Center.

The book presents interviews with hundreds of people from different parts of the city -- first responders, taxi drivers, teachers, artists, religious leaders, immigrants -- by Columbia University's Oral History Research Office.

"The result is a remarkable time-lapse account of the city as it changed in the wake of 9/11," its publisher The New Press says in an introduction to After the Fall.

Another new book is The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan Drawing, which publisher Ballantine Books touts as "the first panoramic, authoritative look back at 9/11."

It draws on recently released documents, interviews and "the perspective that can come only from a decade of research and reflection," Ballantine says.

September 11 and its aftermath also have inspired works of fiction like "The Submission," a novel by former New York Times reporter Amy Waldman.

It imagines what would have happened if a jury responsible for picking a proposal for a memorial at Ground Zero had chosen a design by an American Muslim architect.

At least two books are cast as tributes to the victims of 9/11, including "9/11: The World Speaks," which includes more than 200,000 messages from people from around the world who have visited the Tribute WTC Visitor Center, which opened in 2006 near the site of the Twin Towers.

The attack was the deadliest ever on US soil with Al-Qaeda militants in hijacked airliners toppling the New York landmark, smashing into the Pentagon, and crashing into a field in Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 people died.

The anniversary has been an occasion to re-release books which some critics consider fundamental to understanding September 11 and the war against terrorism that has ensued over the past decade.

One of those is Chomsky's 9-11, which first came out just a month after the attacks. In it, the American activist and intellectual retraces what he sees as the roots of the attacks and offers a critical vision of US foreign policy.

Another is "The 9/11 Commission Report," a riveting account of the attacks that became a surprise best-seller in 2004 after it was first published by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.

The new edition includes an epilogue from the commission's director analyzing what came of the panel's recommendations.

"We are much less vulnerable than we were before 9/11," former commission chairman Tom Kean told AFP in a recent interview. "Despite this considerable progress, some major 9/11 commission recommendations remain unfulfilled."

The bipartisan body spent 20 months studying the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil and produced an authoritative 2004 report.

To mark the 10th anniversary of the attacks, the former commissioners issued a "report card," grading the US government on its performance and concluding it had fallen short on nine of its 41 recommendations.

One obvious failure: no legislation has been enacted to reserve a block of the communications spectrum so that police, firefighters and medics can use one secure channel.