Portraits: 9/11/01: The Collected "Portraits of Grief" from The New York Times

Overview

Poignant and personal remembrances, celebrating the lives of the World Trade Center victims.

Few aspects of The New York Times's coverage of September 11 and of all that has followed have attracted as much comment as "Portraits of Grief." A page or two buried deep in the B section every day for 15 weeks, the series profiled the lives lost in the attacks on the World Trade Center and has become a story in itself, becoming required reading for ...

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Overview

Poignant and personal remembrances, celebrating the lives of the World Trade Center victims.

Few aspects of The New York Times's coverage of September 11 and of all that has followed have attracted as much comment as "Portraits of Grief." A page or two buried deep in the B section every day for 15 weeks, the series profiled the lives lost in the attacks on the World Trade Center and has become a story in itself, becoming required reading for many, the world over.

Beginning on Sept. 14, a half-dozen Times reporters began working from a stack of 100 missing person fliers collected from points around the World Trade Center site. They crafted profiles—stories containing short but signature details of the lives they strove to present. These portraits transcend race, class, and gender lines and tell of the old and the young, praising their individuality while at the same time cutting through their differences to capture the poignancy of their shared similarity: life cut short in an American tragedy. The stories have become a source of connection and consolation, a focus for the sorrow of readers both reeling from disbelief and searching for support. To paraphrase "Portraits" reporter Charlie LeDuff, there's more than one Ground Zero—there are thousands of Ground Zeros. Portraits: 9/11/01, a collection of the over 1,800 profiles published in the Times, helps us visit them all.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
From the pages of The New York Times comes this hardcover commemorative edition of the collected "Portraits of Grief" features, remembering the men and women who perished on September 11, 2001. The victims came in all shapes and sizes, all nationalities and religions, and the writers at the Times have labored mightily to bring the public these moving, inspirational -- and often humorous -- snapshots of just what we lost on that tragic day.
Wall Street Journal
In a story producing great journalism, none has been more exceptional than the New York Times's Portraits of Grief. They are profoundly moving.
Vanity Fair
Each write-up isn't just a write-up but a votive offering to the spirit of the deceased.
Library Journal
In the days and weeks following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the nation and New York in particular struggled to find normalcy. Yet the city's desire to confront the terror and, in turn, work through its grief was palpable. The New York Times's series "Portraits of Grief" was one response to this need. Described by Times executive editor Howell Raines as "snapshots of lives interrupted as they were being actively lived," the profiles give a face to a number, a story to a name. By now everyone in the nation has read at least one of these portraits, heard the legacy of a loved one retold by a friend, or remembered the name of just one person who perished. As the series initially served to highlight the missing, it eventually lent itself to healing a nation by giving short, unglorified glances into the lives of everyday Americans. This book collects the portraits that ran from September 15 through February 5 in the paper's " A Nation Challenged" section, with the hope that future printings will include the rest of those who were remembered. Each page is filled with the kaleidoscope of perspectives and passions that were lost that day, with victims ranging from firefighters and mothers to waiters and financiers in an equality of bereavement. Unfortunately, the look and feel of the newspaper are maintained, along with the poor picture quality, detracting from the often poetic text. That aside, it is recommended for all public libraries, where there will no doubt be demand. [One copy will be given to each victim's family, and all proceeds from the book go to benefit the New York Times 9/11 Neediest Fund. Ed.] Rachel Collins, "Library Journal" Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805072228
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/1/2002
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 688
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 13.08 (h) x 1.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Over 120 reporters from The New York Times participated in the writing of the paper's daily feature, "Portraits of Grief," some for only a couple of days and others for months.

Howell Raines, the Executive Editor of the Times, writes the foreword for Portraits, and Janny Scott, a reporter on the Times's Metro desk, writes the introduction.

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Read an Excerpt

Foreword

Howell Raines

Nothing published in the New York Times during my twenty-four years on the newspaper has elicited a reader response like the one we've gotten on "Portraits of Grief." Those who've been here longer say the same thing. I'm convinced that the core of the portraits' appeal lies in our metropolitan desk's decision to cast these stories as snapshots of lives interrupted as they were being actively lived, rather than in the traditional obituary form. Bill Moyers suggested during a journalism conference at Columbia University that the impact of these stories would change the form of newspaper obituary writing. I can't predict whether that's right. In fact, I rather doubt it, since traditional New York Times obituary is a powerful storytelling format in itself and is entirely appropriate to the task of recording the key facts of prominent (or notorious) lives.

But "Portraits of Grief" reminds us of the democracy of death, an event that lies in the future of every person on the planet. The scary force of that universal fact sometimes inspires in the most sober soul an impulse to flee into a carpe diem mood of headlong hedonism. I think, however, that the 1,910 stories reported in our paper and collected here in Portraits 9/11/01 stir an entirely different feeling. When I read them, I am filled with an awareness of the subtle nobility of everyday existence, of the ordered beauty of quotidian life for millions of Americans, of the unforced dedication with which our fellow citizens go about their duties as partners, employers or employees, as planters of community gardens, coaches of the young, joyful explorers of this great land and the world beyond its shores. These lives, bundled together so randomly into a union of loving memory by those terrible cataclysms of September 11, remind us of what Walt Whitman knew: "The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem."

There was poetry, too, in watching my colleagues on the metropolitan staff report and record these stories. The glory of a great newsroom is its each-one-teach-one ethos. They taught and learned together, s Christine Kay conceptualized the project, Wendell Jamieson managed the complex task of tracing hundreds of stories, and their leader, Jon Landman, the metropolitan editor, resisted any suggestion that we abandon our rhythm of a page or two pages every day until the end of 2001. Among the reporters, another kind of democracy-- the democracy of craftsmanship-- came into play. Often, on so huge a story as the World Trade Center disaster, the writing of shorter pieces falls to younger reporters. On the "Portraits" project, it became an emblem of pride to join in the largely anonymous labor of creating these pieces; some of our most senior correspondents insisted on participating.

I have seen reporters crying at their telephones, even as they summoned the professional discipline to keep reporting, keep writing until the task was done. They were inspired and sometimes driven by an awareness of what these pieces had come to mean to the grieving families and friends and to that larger community of Americans who mourned for all the World Trade Center victims, strangers to them or not, just as in earlier day their parents mourned for the dead of Pearl Harbor. We received thousands os letters and e-mails from our readers. On the very morning I sat down to write these words, the following e-mail showed up on my screen from a lawyer in San Francisco. I thought if caught the national spirit that collected around the "Portraits of Grief" and in a quiet, sincere way validated the work of the staff…

That letter reaffirmed to me that we had accomplished the core mission of the New York Times, which is to serve the information needs of a thoughtful, engaged readership that spans all regions of the country and indeed all ages and interests. In short, we set out to make worthy journalism, not to create a memorial. If in the course of doing our jobs we created a monument in words to those who were lost, we are proud to have honored them and their families with our labors.

Read More Show Less

Foreword

Howell Raines

Nothing published in the New York Times during my twenty-four years on the newspaper has elicited a reader response like the one we've gotten on "Portraits of Grief." Those who've been here longer say the same thing. I'm convinced that the core of the portraits' appeal lies in our metropolitan desk's decision to cast these stories as snapshots of lives interrupted as they were being actively lived, rather than in the traditional obituary form. Bill Moyers suggested during a journalism conference at Columbia University that the impact of these stories would change the form of newspaper obituary writing. I can't predict whether that's right. In fact, I rather doubt it, since traditional New York Times obituary is a powerful storytelling format in itself and is entirely appropriate to the task of recording the key facts of prominent (or notorious) lives.

But "Portraits of Grief" reminds us of the democracy of death, an event that lies in the future of every person on the planet. The scary force of that universal fact sometimes inspires in the most sober soul an impulse to flee into a carpe diem mood of headlong hedonism. I think, however, that the 1,910 stories reported in our paper and collected here in Portraits 9/11/01 stir an entirely different feeling. When I read them, I am filled with an awareness of the subtle nobility of everyday existence, of the ordered beauty of quotidian life for millions of Americans, of the unforced dedication with which our fellow citizens go about their duties as partners, employers or employees, as planters of community gardens, coaches of the young, joyful explorers of this great land and the world beyond its shores. These lives, bundled together so randomly into a union of loving memory by those terrible cataclysms of September 11, remind us of what Walt Whitman knew: "The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem."

There was poetry, too, in watching my colleagues on the metropolitan staff report and record these stories. The glory of a great newsroom is its each-one-teach-one ethos. They taught and learned together, s Christine Kay conceptualized the project, Wendell Jamieson managed the complex task of tracing hundreds of stories, and their leader, Jon Landman, the metropolitan editor, resisted any suggestion that we abandon our rhythm of a page or two pages every day until the end of 2001. Among the reporters, another kind of democracy-- the democracy of craftsmanship-- came into play. Often, on so huge a story as the World Trade Center disaster, the writing of shorter pieces falls to younger reporters. On the "Portraits" project, it became an emblem of pride to join in the largely anonymous labor of creating these pieces; some of our most senior correspondents insisted on participating.

I have seen reporters crying at their telephones, even as they summoned the professional discipline to keep reporting, keep writing until the task was done. They were inspired and sometimes driven by an awareness of what these pieces had come to mean to the grieving families and friends and to that larger community of Americans who mourned for all the World Trade Center victims, strangers to them or not, just as in earlier day their parents mourned for the dead of Pearl Harbor. We received thousands os letters and e-mails from our readers. On the very morning I sat down to write these words, the following e-mail showed up on my screen from a lawyer in San Francisco. I thought if caught the national spirit that collected around the "Portraits of Grief" and in a quiet, sincere way validated the work of the staff… That letter reaffirmed to me that we had accomplished the core mission of the New York Times, which is to serve the information needs of a thoughtful, engaged readership that spans all regions of the country and indeed all ages and interests. In short, we set out to make worthy journalism, not to create a memorial. If in the course of doing our jobs we created a monument in words to those who were lost, we are proud to have honored them and their families with our labors.

Read More Show Less

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2002

    Great Portraits

    This book helps us to see what 9/11 was on the receiving end. Through the stories and illustrations, we learn who the people were, what their lives were, and the people who continue to love them. It helps us come to grips with the value and importance of the lives that were lost on that day.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2002

    HONORED TO REMEMBER

    I HAVE GONE THROUGH THIS BOOK TWICE SO FAR AND I HAVE BEEN MORE MOVED IN JUST THE FIRST COUPLE OF PAGES THAN I HAVE IN MY WHOLE LIFE. I WAS CONSTANTLY IN TEARS FOR THE FACT THAT I JUST SIMPLY COULD NOT BELIEVE THAT ALL OF THESE INNOCENT BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE LOST THEIR LIVES AND THE FACT THAT SO MUCH OF WHAT SO MANY OF THESE VICTIMS DID JUST MAKES YOU SIT BACK AND WONDER IF SOMEHOW ON AN UNCONSCIENCE LEVEL, THEY KNEW THAT 09/11/01 WOULD BE THE LAST DAY OF THEIR SHORT LIVES. THIS IS BY FAR THE BEST AND MOST UNSELFISH THING I HAVE EVER BOUGHT. I HAVE SUCH PRIDE IN THE FACT THAT I CAN PASS THIS DOWN TO MY CHILDREN NOT TO DEPRESS THEM IN ANY WAY BUT IN ORDER TO SHOW HOW BAD PEOPLE CAN ACTUALLY BE TO THEIR FELLOW HUMANS AND HOW MUCH THIS AWFUL TRAGEDY HAS BROUGHT ONE AND ALL CLOSER TOGETHER. THIS NATION WAS MADE STRONGER THAN WE OR THE TERRORISTS EVER EXPECTED. THIS BOOK IS A TRUE TESTAMENT OF HOW THESE PEOPLE ARE ALL HEROES, NO MATTER IF THEY KNEW IT OR NOT.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2002

    Never Forget...

    It is so very important never to forget the faces behind the tragidy that was 9-11-01. A picture is worth a 1,000 words, this fine book gives the reader both a picture behind the name and a short paragraph describing their precious and in far to many cases short life. I recommend this book to anyone who does not want to forget what happened to our country on 9-11, God bless America!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2002

    Very Emotion Book!

    I think this is a wonderful book to purchase. It is a collection of all the victums who perished on September 11, 2001. Almost 3000 names, pictures and an article about each person who died that horrible day. Great Book! God Bless America....

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