New York September 11by David Halberstam
"The date, September 11, 2001, now has a certain permanence, graven on ourcollective memory, like a very few others December 7, 1941, and November 22, 1963, dates which seem to separate yesterday from today, and then from now. They become the rarest of moments; ordinary people will forever be able to tell you where they were and what they were doing when they first
"The date, September 11, 2001, now has a certain permanence, graven on ourcollective memory, like a very few others December 7, 1941, and November 22, 1963, dates which seem to separate yesterday from today, and then from now. They become the rarest of moments; ordinary people will forever be able to tell you where they were and what they were doing when they first heard the news, as if the terrible deed had happened to them, which in some ways it did."
—from the introduction by David Halberstam
By now, the story of September 11 has been burned into our collective memory, but few have seen New York from the perspective of Magnum photographers. Eleven members of the legendary photo agency immediately dispersed from their monthly meeting in New York as the events unfolded to document the incomprehensible. Their photographs, by turns haunting, surreal, and breathtaking, are collected together in New York September 11, by Magnum Photographers, compellingly presented in this high-quality edition from powerHouse Books. From their various vantage points we are transported to Ground Zero to witness the destruction of the World Trade Center, the buildings’ implosion which sent thousands fleeing through the streets from debris, only to return to the scene in quiet observation and respect for the rescue workers whose jobs had only begun—and of the mourners who had been gathering struck with grief.
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Read an Excerpt
Introduction by David Halberstam
The date, September 11, 2001, now has a certain permanence, graven on our collective memory, like a very few others, December 7, 1941, and November 22, 1963, dates which seem to separate yesterday from today, and then from now. They become the rarest of moments; ordinary people will forever be able to tell you where they were and what they were doing when they first heard the news, as if the terrible deed had happened to them, which in some ways it did.
Up until that moment America had been spared the ravages of the last century of modern warfare. The bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon ended an amazing historical period in American life, one which I place at 87 years, beginning with World War 1 (we actually entered it three years late) during which we rose to unwanted superpower status, became the most powerful nation in the world, and yet none of the terrible carnage of that era took place on our soil. We had come to believe as a people, protected as we were for so long by our two great oceans, that we were immune to the awful dangers and cruelties and viruses of the rest of the world.
That sense of immunity, as these photographs so dramatically show, ended on September 11, 2001; for New Yorkers more than most Americans, what happened was particularly personal. The World Trade Center was a unique landmark for us, a wanted and needed guiding beacon, to be seen, when we had been out of the city, and were making our return, a sign that we were finally approaching the city in which we lived.
Each tower was in its own way a marvel of what man can do in reaching to the sky from a city where space was always of the essence; each reflected the talents and sheer hard work of thousands and thousands of men and women who never knew each other but were bound together in something larger than themselves; each became in the end a symbol of what man can do to man when he acts upon his cruelest impulses.
Each building was also in its own way a universe, a small self-contained city. To understand why the rubble is so enormous, imagine if you will ten skyscrapers of twenty floors each, destroyed in one stunning, frightening moment.
Each tower was in some way a part of our lives. I, like almost all New Yorkers, had not just been guided back to the city by them, but had been there often, eaten at their restaurants, grand and lowly, from those with three stars to those which offered only slices of pizza. I had attended business conferences there, had interviewed a visiting VIP for a book there. For several years I worked out at a gym in an adjoining building, a building which itself may not last and may have to be torn down.
All of us have certain earlier memories of being there, and of the wonder of what the buildings represented architecturally: I who am fearfully and pathologically acrophobic can remember about ten years ago giving a lecture there, and finding to my extreme discomfort that it was scheduled for the very top of one of the Towers. I was so terrified that I held on to the table in front of me as if for life itself for the full hour.
And now those two buildings are rubble, and New York is not the same, and in that part of our brain where we have catalogued the other clips of our saddest moments -- the Zapruder film, and the film clips of the Challenger disaster -- we place the images of this moment, ever real, forever immediate, never to be forgotten. We also add the phrase Ground Zero to our language.
I am reminded as I write this, about something that has always moved me in our society, the nobility of ordinary people in times of great crisis. The people who were the architects of this attack sought among other things to show the rest of the world how weak and decadent a nation we had become. Yet in the immediacy of the crisis, firemen and police sacrificed their own safety (and the security of their own families) in order to save complete strangers; as they did that, they provided the evidence which was the exact opposite of what the architects of violence hoped for.
As I write, it is only 16 days since it happened, and the city, always, I think the most energized place in the world, is slowly and steadily coming back, returning to its million smaller daily human concerns and crises. Being a New Yorker is as much a condition as it is a geographic description of where you choose to live. Millions of us are people who have come here from all over the world, most of us I think by choice, more often than not, among the newer and poorer among us, because they want to be here, and because they believe, that unlike in the place where they originally started out their life's journeys, if they work hard here, they can rise above what they were when they were born, and most assuredly their children can rise even higher. That makes it ironically enough, freedom's place, and I cannot think of a stronger force with which to bond people together.
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As we have come to expect from the world's greatest photojournalists for almost sixty years, Magnum photographers captured September 11th in its purest form -- the raw terror, horrific destruction and immeasurable acts of brotherhood. They were compelled to run from their own homes, the safe havens they had previously thought of as far away from the wars and other stories they had photographed, to record these images in their own backyard, literally and figuratively. As thousands fled, these soldiers of photography rushed into the grim chaos.
Of all the books on the market concerning the events of September 11th, this book is one of the best I have seen to date. There are over 70 color photographs here and a small number of black and white photographs. This quality book shows not only the destruction after the horrific events, but also shows several photographs of the Twin Towers taken over a period of time in years previous to the events of September 11. 'New York September 11' will make a valued keepsake to pass on to future generations as a memorial to those who lost their lives, their families and the courageous rescue workers. There are true-life heros in the world and this book is a fitting tribute to their courage and love for their fellow man. Magnum Photographers have done an excellent job in portraying, in photographs, the unforgettable devestation of September 11, 2001.
I have just finished 'New York, September 11, 2001' for the second time - it is that kind of book for me. The first time I read everything - looked at the photography and felt sad. Then yesterday, I looked again and more appreciated the 'story' that was there for us. As the photographers tell us in each their own words - 'our work tells the story' - and it does. For that we have to be most thankful. It is a book that needs looking over and over again. As it happens with a classic book, each time you read it - and in this instance see - there will be another message for you - i.e., this time I really took notice of the man with the small hammer, the people with the haunted look, the ones looking for something and then the story about the one that was looking for what they 'were investing in'. And then, finally, the magnificent Towers as they were! Truly a book to keep and give to our next generation.
This book is truly a visual memorial to the events of September 11th, 2001. The pictures in this book,taken by Magnum photographers, honors those both the victims and heros of that day. Proceeds the sale of every book goes to the September 11th Fund, benefiting the victims of September 11th, 2001. This book will leave you breathless.