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The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation

Overview

The 9/11 Report for Every American

On December 5, 2005, the 9/11 Commission issued its final report card on the government's fulfillment of the recommendations issued in July 2004: one A, twelve Bs, nine Cs, twelve Ds, three Fs, and four incompletes. Here is stunning evidence that Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón, with more than sixty years of experience in the comic-book industry between them, were right: far, far too few Americans have read, grasped, and demanded action on the ...

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Overview

The 9/11 Report for Every American

On December 5, 2005, the 9/11 Commission issued its final report card on the government's fulfillment of the recommendations issued in July 2004: one A, twelve Bs, nine Cs, twelve Ds, three Fs, and four incompletes. Here is stunning evidence that Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón, with more than sixty years of experience in the comic-book industry between them, were right: far, far too few Americans have read, grasped, and demanded action on the Commission's investigation into the events of that tragic day and the lessons America must learn.

Using every skill and storytelling method Jacobson and Colón have learned over the decades, they have produced the most accessible version of the 9/11 Report. Jacobson's text frequently follows word for word the original report, faithfully captures its investigative thoroughness, and covers its entire scope, even including the Commission's final report card. Colón's stunning artwork powerfully conveys the facts, insights, and urgency of the original. Published on the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States, an event that has left no aspect of American foreign or domestic policy untouched, The 9/11 Report puts at every American's fingertips the most defining event of the century.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The 9/11 Commission Report is arguably the most readable federal committee report in history, but most Americans have never read it. Alarmed by that sad fact, veteran comic book artist Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón have created a graphic version of the report that makes its findings indelibly visible. This 160-page adaptation succeeds not only in rendering the dramatic stories of that tragic day; it presents the sequence of events leading up to the attacks with unprecedented clarity. The book also covers the rise of al Qaeda and U.S. preparations and responses to terrorist plots.
VOYA - Steven Kral
The 9/11 Commission Report on the events of that day weighs in at a formidable eight hundred pages of small text. Developed with the blessing and support of the Commission, this volume condenses the eight-hundred-page report and uses the graphic novel format both to streamline the retelling of events and to enable the report to reach a new audience. The book begins by retelling what happened that morning and then details what factors led to the attack. It ends with a series of recommendations to prevent the recurrence of similar events in the future. Although a "September 11 comic book" might not sound like a good idea, this book does a great job in making the report accessible. The format enables the reader to understand how synchronous events thousands of miles away from each other combined to devastating results. The majority of the text is taken from the report and is largely used for narration or documented remarks. Text that is not from the report is used for dramatic effect and is readily apparent. It does, however, require active participation from the reader to fit the pieces together. It follows the report's structure, rather than providing a chronological narrative. This technique tends occasionally to force the reader to flip back a few pages to remember who was who. Although this problem might cut down on its appeal, students looking for an accessible way to approach the 9/11 Report will seek out this book.
KLIATT - Claire Rosser
This is a dignified, carefully accurate graphic presentation of the basic narrative and conclusions of the 9/11 Report. It's quite astounding what the format is capable of conveying. The text is concise and well organized. The graphics are dramatic and emotional. If there is an agenda, it is that of the 9/11 Commission: to point out the mistakes made leading up to 9/11 and on the day of the attacks—the inadequate resources, the uncoordinated intelligence—and the final report (December 5, 2005), which gives our nation very low grades in correcting the errors revealed in the commission's findings. This belongs in every library.
Library Journal
pol sciFeeling that the size and complexity of The 9/11 Commission Report had deterred too many Americans from reading it, Jacobson (Richie Rich) and Colon (veteran comics artist and ex-DC Comics editor) have produced this fine comics version. Beginning with a time line of the morning of the attacks, they move on to a history of al Qaeda and its previous attacks against the United States. They also detail U.S. counterterrorism activities in the years before the attacks; missed opportunities to prevent the attacks; and the many recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, ending with the commission's December 2005 report card on the government's implementation of those recommendations. Jacobson and Colon avoid sensationalism and editorializing; the captions are adapted or directly quoted from the report itself (though much dialog is seemingly invented to illustrate certain points). A larger format would have made the sometimes small text more readable. The artwork is well done, and its depiction (with some blood) of the destruction and the doomed victims can be chilling. Simultaneously released in hardcover and paperback, this important and worthy effort belongs in all libraries. [This book was a 2006 Editor's Pick, LJ 9/1/06. Ed.] Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-At only 15 percent the size of The 9/11 Report: The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (St. Martin's, 2004) and more than four times the price, is this adaptation worth purchasing? The answer is an unequivocal yes. Jacobson and Col-n intend this adaptation to bring to the commission's report readers who would not or could not digest its nearly 800 pages, and they have the blessing, acknowledged in this book's foreword, of the commission's chair and vice-chair to do so. Neither lurid nor simplistic, it presents the essence of the commission's work in a manner that, especially in the opening section, is able to surpass aspects of any text-only publication: the four stories of the doomed flights are given on the same foldout pages so that readers can truly grasp the significance of how simultaneous events can and did overwhelm our national information and defense systems. The analysis that follows in the subsequent 11 chapters cuts cleanly to the kernels of important history, politics, economics, and procedural issues that both created and exacerbated the effects of the day's events. Col-n's full-color artwork provides personality for the named players-U.S. presidents and Al-Qaeda operatives alike-as well as the airline passengers, office workers, fire fighters, and bureaucrats essential to the report. This graphic novel has the power and accessibility to become a high school text; in the meantime, no library should be without it.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A comic book, utterly serious, documenting the attacks of September 11. The horrendous events of that day may seem an odd choice for comic-panel treatment, but Jacobson and Col-n-known to legions of fans for their longtime work at DC and Marvel Comics-are doing an honorable public service by putting the official report in a form that anyone can understand, through words or not. The project is fraught with peril; as drawn, for instance, Ronald Reagan looks more like Leonid Brezhnev than the Gipper, and it must have been daunting to reduce the carefully nonpartisan complexities of the report to a few frames depicting, say, Condoleezza Rice's failure to grasp the meaning of actions on which she had been fully briefed, to say nothing of the president's inaction. For all that, the captions pack a lot of punch. Reads one, "Little effort in the legislative branch was made to consider an integrated policy toward terrorism. All committees found themselves swamped in the minutiae of the budget process, with little time for the consideration of longer-term questions." The point is well-taken, even as Osama bin Laden's eyes glower from the page. The graphics are meaningful as well, and some of them, such as the depiction of Afghan leader Ahmed Shah Massoud's last moments, are, well, quite graphic. The book includes the 9/11 Commission's sober determination that the invasion of Iraq was based on anecdotal evidence at best, as well as its recommendations that since so much of the US infrastructure is in private hands, the government would do well to integrate civilians into emergency planning. The most telling moment here comes at the end, and here the graphic treatment is exactly right: It depicts theCommission's "report card" on the administration's response to its findings, with an average grade of D. All told, a thoughtful-and by no means dumbed-down-approach to events still very current.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809057399
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 8/22/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 137,590
  • Product dimensions: 6.21 (w) x 8.92 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Sid Jacobson was the managing editor and editor in chief for Harvey Comics, where he created Richie Rich, and executive editor at Marvel Comics.

The artist, Ernie Colón, has worked at Harvey, Marvel, and DC Comics. At DC, he oversaw the production of Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Blackhawk, and the Flash; at Marvel, Spider-Man.

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Reading Group Guide

Supplementary Questions and Exercises for the Class

1. In their Foreword to this graphic adaptation, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton say that they hope this work will lead their “fellow citizens to study, reflect—and act.” Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón have expressed similar hopes, too. Having read the book, what actions, if any, have you been inspired to pursue?

2. Before reading this book, what did you know about the attack on the World Trade Center in 1993? Or about the two American embassy bombings in Africa in 1998? Or about the attack on the USS Cole in 2000? Discuss how your knowledge of these events was changed or enhanced by reading this book.

3. This report begins with a chapter entitled “We Have Some Planes...”—referring, of course, to the four commercial aircraft at the center of the 9/11 tragedy. As a class, review the mistakes and oversights—on the part of security officers, intelligence experts, aviation professionals, governmental agencies, and so on—that contributed to these four planes being hijacked.

4. Look at the national flags on page 36. Which flags did you recognize? Which were new to you? Why are these particular flags being displayed? And should “Old Glory,” the U.S. flag, also be shown here? Why or why not? (Note that the locations mapped out on the following page of this book are all within the U.S.)

5. What does the prominent, red-lettered “BLAM!” signify on page 38? And where else in this book did you find such sound-effects lettering? Which of these was the largest, and which was the smallest? (And in both cases, how would you explain the size of the lettering used?) Also, compare the deployment of such lettering in The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation to other works of sequential art that you have read. Did this book, in your view, have more or less sound-effects lettering than a typical graphic novel? Explain.

6. Discuss Mohamed Atta’s alleged trip to Prague. (It’s described briefly in this guide, but you might want to do some extra research into the matter.) When is he thought to have gone there, and for what reason(s)? What evidence has been offered to support the belief that he did in fact make this trip? Does the Commission believe he made this trip? Why or why not? What do you think?

7. Of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers, how many were from Saudi Arabia? Why were so many of them Saudis? As a class, paraphrase and dissect the reasons that are given on page 72 for the large number of Saudis.

8. In the lower left panel of page 80, we see one airline pilot saying to another, “Whatever that means.” Explain the relevance and tone of this remark. What triggered the remark, and to whom—or to what—is it directed? Talk about the attitude as well as the thoughtprocess of the pilot who’s saying these words. Where else in this book do we find real or imagined people commenting on (or even talking back to) the report itself? Pinpoint a few other instances of this, and then compose a short paper explaining whether and how you think the graphic-novel format is especially well-suited for this kind of metanarration.

9. “America had suffered surprise attacks before 9/11,” we read in the “Imagination” section of Chapter 11. As a class, come up with a few examples of such surprises. What is it that sets 9/11 apart in this regard, particularly given the theme at hand (i.e., “imagination”)?

10. On page 110, a large map appears beneath all of the panels—and all of the action— presented here. What does the map show? What is being asserted thematically by using this single map as the background?

11. On page 119, there is a detailed list of suggested future actions and strategies called “The Commission Recommends.” How well has the current administration adhered to these tips? Where—and how—could improvement be made? Discuss current events with your classmates when coming up with your answers.

12. “In the years since 9/11,” the Commission notes on page 121, “Americans have been better protected against terrorist attacks. . . . [We’ve been] safer, but not safe.” Yet given “the new terrorism” of this day and age, could the people of this nation (or of any nation, for that matter) be entirely “safe”? Discuss.

13. The final graphic in this graphic adaptation is a report card. Who is being graded here? Who is doing the grading? Where are the marks the highest? Where are they the lowest? And do you think these grades are fair (as in, just or fitting)? What would you, having read this book—and having seen the letter-grade postscript that concludes it— deem the average grade of this report card? Which of the various sub-par markings on this card ought to be brought up to a passing-grade first, in your opinion? Why? Compare your views on this question with those of your fellow students; make a case for the views that you have taken.

14. The late Will Eisner, considered one of the all-time masters of comic book art, wrote a classic “how to” guide called Comics and Sequential Art—it’s aimed at both readers and creators of comics. It this book, he ponders the young literary form known as the graphic novel: “The future for the graphic novel lies in the choice of worthwhile themes and the innovation of exposition. Given the fact that, despite the proliferation of electronic technology, the portable printed page will remain in place for the immediate future, it would seem that the attraction to it of a more sophisticated audience lies in the hands of serious comic book artists and writers who are willing to risk trial and error. . . . The future of this form awaits participants who truly believe that the application of sequential art, with its interweaving of words and pictures, could provide a dimension of communication that contributes—hopefully on a level never before attained—to the body of literature that concerns itself with the examination of the human experience.” How do you think The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation measures up to Eisner’s musings about the graphic novel—its future as well as its characteristics, its audience as well as its purpose? Write a short essay that explains your take on this.

15. Looking back to the beginning of this book, we see that the Commission asserts, near the end of Chapter 1: “The conflict did not begin on 9/11.” When did it begin, then? And where? Try to reflect on the full spectrum of events covered in The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation when formulating your answer.

16. Finally, attempt a short work of graphic continuity or sequential art of your own. Caveman drawings, Egyptian hieroglyphics, classic comic strips, today’s graphic novels— this words-plus-pictures style of communicating has been with us for thousands of years. Put your own personal stamp on this age-old yet ever-fresh form of storytelling; be creative. Feel free to base your work on a fictional or nonfictional story of your choosing, either past or present—or, even better, write your own tale. But keep in mind that, as Ernie Colón has noted in an interview: “The essential [aspect of this form] is the left to right, top to bottom [presentation on the page].” And don’t forget to create a cover! Then share your work with your class.

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 4, 2009

    Warning! This book will make you mad!!

    Jacobson and Colon really did Americans a favor when they took on this project. The 9/11 Report in graphic novel form was incredibly easy to read (the original report was over 500 pages long) and understand. However, I will warn you, reading this could make you very angry. I was infuriated as I read about the thumb-swapping among all the national security agencies, like the CIA, FBI, TSA, etc. and the finger-pointing between the Clinton and Bush (W.) administrations.

    I am planning on becoming a school librarian in the near future. I would love to use this book in a book talk about the events of 9/11. Many of our children who are now teens barely remember what happened that day and why. "The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation" is easy enough for anyone over the age of fourteen to understand (yes, even adults, Jacobson & Colon translated the 9/11 report from "bureaucratic-ese").

    This was a job well-done.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 4, 2008

    Review

    This book will tell you mostly everything about what happened on September 11th <BR/>and why and how it was done. It is done in a comic book format, but it makes it easier to follow. <BR/>Its really interesting,and a really good book to get if you want to know about the topic.<BR/>The pictures are very good in this book and so is the information. It was a good easy read, with a lot of information about the topic and the background of it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2008

    Good book if you can follow it

    This novel was very successful in its quest to make the 9/11 Report more accessible to all readers. It is a quick, but certainly not a light read. My only complaint was that I had trouble following the book at times because of the comic formatting. For those who often read comics, I am sure this would have not been an issue.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2006

    Read For College Course, Outstanding

    I was assigned reading this for a Government college course regarding International Security and it helped lay out the information around the 9/11 attacks and the Commission Report in a manner beyond the jargon of Government Commission Reports and understandable to all Americans.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2006

    do not buy it

    i am so sorry that I bought this book for me and for a friend as a gift. very upsetting to try to read and an insult to the family and friends of 9-11.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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