Until the Fires Stopped Burning: 9/11 and New York City in the Words and Experiences of Survivors and Witnesses

Until the Fires Stopped Burning: 9/11 and New York City in the Words and Experiences of Survivors and Witnesses

by Charles B. Strozier
     
 

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Charles B. Strozier's college lost sixty-eight alumni in the tragedy of 9/11, and the many courses he has taught on terrorism and related topics since have attracted dozens of survivors and family members. A practicing psychoanalyst in Manhattan, Strozier has also accepted many seared by the disaster into his care. In some ways, the grief he has encountered has

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Overview

Charles B. Strozier's college lost sixty-eight alumni in the tragedy of 9/11, and the many courses he has taught on terrorism and related topics since have attracted dozens of survivors and family members. A practicing psychoanalyst in Manhattan, Strozier has also accepted many seared by the disaster into his care. In some ways, the grief he has encountered has felt familiar; in other ways, unprecedented. Compelled to investigate its unique character further, he launched a fascinating study into the conscious and unconscious meaning of the event, both for those who were physically close to the attack and for those who witnessed it beyond the immediate space of Ground Zero.

Based on the testimony of survivors, bystanders, spectators, and victim's friends and families, Until the Fires Stopped Burning brings much-needed clarity to the conscious and unconscious meaning of 9/11 and its relationship to historical disaster, apocalyptic experience, unnatural death, and the psychological endurance of trauma. Strozier interprets and contextualizes the memories of witnesses and compares their encounter with 9/11 to the devastation of Hiroshima, Auschwitz, Katrina, and other events Kai Erikson has called a "new species of trouble" in the world. Organizing his study around "zones of sadness" in New York, Strozier powerfully evokes the multiple places in which his respondents confronted 9/11 while remaining sensitive to the personal, social, and cultural differences of these experiences. Most important, he distinguishes between 9/11 as an apocalyptic event (which he affirms it is not;rather, it is a monumental event), and 9/11 as an apocalyptic experience, which is crucial to understanding the act's affect on American life and a still-evolving culture of fear in the world.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
...Strozier's intimate yet comprehensive, visceral, and intellectual dissection of 10 years of trauma, fear, and recovery is full of pain and mystery, radiance and strength.

BOOKLIST

...Strozier's intimate yet comprehensive, visceral, and intellectual dissection of 10 years of trauma, fear, and recovery is full of pain and mystery, radiance and strength.BOOKLIST

Robert Lifton

This is the only work on 9/11 to describe people's experiences in depth while at the same time providing a broad sense of the human impact of the whole event.

James W. Jones

Charles B. Strozier has crafted a unique and powerful blend of shattering personal narratives and thoughtful analysis. Anyone who wonders what 9/11 was like for those who experienced it up close will find Strozier's work the necessary reference. No other author possesses his blend of psychological insight, cultural and historical perspective, and narrative fluency. The intimately personal and profoundly historical mingle to produce a profound understanding of the human and cultural impact of the day America changed forever.

Kai Erikson

This book offers a way of understanding—of taking measure, of coming to terms with—a thing that does not lend itself to any other kind of telling. That's why it is special. It issues from a richly layered mind.

Peter Balakian

Strozier has given us a whole, complex view of 9/11 in a way no other book has. He blends historical, clinical, cultural, and personal perspectives in order to conceptualize how and why 9/11 changed American history. It is a book every American should read.

Scott Atran

The atrocity of 9/11 did not burn and bury as many as the Holocaust, nor did it hit with the massive force of Hiroshima's black rain and wind, but Until the Fires Stopped Burning shows how these two horrors took part to produce a psychological and political tsunami that shook America to its core and continues to change the world. In the spirit of John Hersey's Hiroshima and Elie Weisel's Night, but with the rigor of a scientist, historian, and psychotherapist, Strozier tells a gripping and honest tale. The mostly ordinary people of this book, who happened upon an extraordinary event, did not encounter ordinary, plain death. They saw instead an apocalyptic landscape of vast, collective suffering closer to the end of the world. Yet this book also offers a heartening apologue of healing and recovery among the fellowship of New Yorkers.

Tom Ryan

Until the Fires Stopped Burning not only captures the experience of 9/11 as it unfolded that day for responders like myself who survived but also captures the psychological experience of those for whom every day since has been 9/11-like in its power over their lives.

Publishers Weekly
Strozier, the director for the Center of Terrorism at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, collects interviews with individuals inside the towers as well as those who watched the events unfold from a distance, from other boroughs, or from around the world. As the first disaster of its kind broadcast live across the globe, Strozier argues that the event was “immediately and repeatedly played back with more and deepening commentary,” an unprecedented presentation by the media that led to different responses depending on the viewers’ proximity to Ground Zero. His research is based on analyzing subjects’ interviews, and consequently, the book feels more like a survey—accessible and anecdotal if cursory. Readers will find the analysis more provocative than satisfying—such compelling sections as one on the language of traumatic memory are too summarily and swiftly handled. Still, the brisk treatment and somewhat repetitive presentation are more than compensated by the breadth of new information on how citizens experienced and psychologically processed the day. (Sept.)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231158992
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
08/19/2014
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
1,179,577
Product dimensions:
8.60(w) x 5.70(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Tom Ryan
Until the Fires Stopped Burning not only captures the experience of 9/11 as it unfolded that day for responders like myself who survived but also captures the psychological experience of those for whom every day since has been 9/11-like in its power over their lives.

Robert Lifton
This is the only work on 9/11 to describe people's experiences in depth while at the same time providing a broad sense of the human impact of the whole event.

James W. Jones
Charles B. Strozier has crafted a unique and powerful blend of shattering personal narratives and thoughtful analysis. Anyone who wonders what 9/11 was like for those who experienced it up close will find Strozier's work the necessary reference. No other author possesses his blend of psychological insight, cultural and historical perspective, and narrative fluency. The intimately personal and profoundly historical mingle to produce a profound understanding of the human and cultural impact of the day America changed forever.

Kai Erikson
This book offers a way of understanding—of taking measure, of coming to terms with—a thing that does not lend itself to any other kind of telling. That's why it is special. It issues from a richly layered mind.

Peter Balakian
Strozier has given us a whole, complex view of 9/11 in a way no other book has. He blends historical, clinical, cultural, and personal perspectives in order to conceptualize how and why 9/11 changed American history. It is a book every American should read.

Scott Atran
The atrocity of 9/11 did not burn and bury as many as the Holocaust, nor did it hit with the massive force of Hiroshima's black rain and wind, but Until the Fires Stopped Burning shows how these two horrors took part to produce a psychological and political tsunami that shook America to its core and continues to change the world. In the spirit of John Hersey's Hiroshima and Elie Weisel's Night, but with the rigor of a scientist, historian, and psychotherapist, Strozier tells a gripping and honest tale. The mostly ordinary people of this book, who happened upon an extraordinary event, did not encounter ordinary, plain death. They saw instead an apocalyptic landscape of vast, collective suffering closer to the end of the world. Yet this book also offers a heartening apologue of healing and recovery among the fellowship of New Yorkers.

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Meet the Author

Charles B. Strozier, a historian and psychoanalyst, is professor of history at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, where he is also the founding director of its Center on Terrorism. He is the author or editor of twelve books on the psychological and historical aspects of contemporary violence and what it means to survive, the psychology of fundamentalism, self psychology and psychoanalysis, and themes in American history. These include the Pulitzer-nominated biography, Heinz Kohut: The Making of a Psychoanalyst; a coedited volume, The Fundamentalist Mindset: Psychological Perspectives on Religion, Violence, and History; and a single-authored psychological study of Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln's Quest for Union. His blog building on the themes of Until the Fires Stopped Burning can be found at www.911aftertenyears.com.

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