What We Saw: The Events of September 11, 2001, in Words, Pictures, and Videoby CBS News
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In words, pictures and video, What We Saw is a unique historical record of the events of September 11th. What We Saw records how we learned about the nation's tragedy and came to understand it and survive it-through still photography, video footage, and the accounts of the survivors and the journalists who covered it.
What We Saw is a collection of narratives and essays, with black and white photography, and includes a full-length DVD documenting the event and the coverage from the CBS News Archives.
- Simon & Schuster
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- BK & DVD
- Product dimensions:
- 7.50(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.65(d)
Read an Excerpt
it has become almost a matter of convention to talk about September 11, 2001, in terms of where one was when one first heard the news. I think it is part of an understandable quest to discover that precise point in time, that bridging nanosecond, between life before and life after. We are trying to recall the feel of things as we knew them and to discover just what changed and how in that instant when we became aware that this day would be different from all the days that had preceded it. For the record, then, I had just stepped out of the shower when I heard a bulletin come over the radio: Smoke was coming from the World Trade Center, and there were reports that a plane had hit one of the towers.
For me, though and I suspect this is also true for others the true force of September 11 was revealed not in a single moment but in a series of moments. In the wake of the first tower's collapse, a correspondent phoned in after having been nearly overcome by the choking cloud of smoke and dust. After the second tower fell, another reporter, a woman new to the city, told of having her life saved by a member of the New York City Fire Department. With debris raining down and roiling in all directions, this firefighter pressed her against a wall. She could feel his heart beating against her back. She had been sure, she said, that this was how she would die. And later in the day, there were the pictures of doctors assembled outside St. Vincent's Medical Center, waiting to perform triage on thousands of wounded who never arrived.
These moments marched alongside the indelible images of that day, each further advancing an understanding of the attacks' toll. Each giving added confirmation to New York City mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's statement that we were looking at a "tremendous" loss of life "More," as he put it, "than we can bear."
Long ago, when America was still young, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote: "Time flies over us, but leaves its shadows behind." For now and for the foreseeable future, we stand in the shadows of that terrible, clear morning. We live in a world remade by the attacks of September 11. Years will pass, and the photos and videos will age and fade. Our memories of the feelings attached to them in real time will also dim, as they have already. But echoes will continue to reverberate from that date.
For more than forty years, reporting for CBS News has given me a front-row seat on history. When big events occur, they always loom large in the present. And there are times when the television screen enlarges what the perspective of years will show to be stories of only passing importance. The inherent drama of the special report the break-in during regular programming and the modern broadcasting phenomenon of "blanket coverage" have a way of giving apparent equal weight to the many different calamities that set them in motion. For example, if one were to judge solely on the basis of television news hours, one might come away with the impression that the death of John F. Kennedy, Jr., was as important a news story as the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Sr. It isn't a question of ranking tragedies but of gauging the historical impact the far-ranging repercussions of a story. And it is rare, in the fury of the moment, that these historical implications are reckoned with accuracy.
September 11 was one of those rare times. When the event happened, while it happened, we knew we were watching history unfold. We saw a line a shadow fall over the newsreel of our lives, one that would forever mark the days after as separate from the days before. We understood that we would remember, would someday tell our grandchildren, where we had been and what we had been doing when we heard the news. The TV screen did not enlarge that day, not when New Yorkers could see the twin towers burning with their own eyes, not when people in our nation's capital could see a cloud of smoke billowing from the Pentagon. If anything, television reduced the horrible images to a size that could be comprehended.
Of course, the historical impact of any event depends on the reactions that follow in its wake. The attacks of September 11 have provoked not only a direct response or series of responses but also a larger and more profound change in how our nation interacts with the rest of our world. From the Middle East to South America, from the Persian Gulf to Central Asia and the Pacific Rim, the war on terrorism now provides the impetus and the context for American foreign policy. Indeed, an atmosphere of change prevails all around the world. Alliances are shifting. In the danger zones of the globe, there is a sense that once static situations are again "in play." Some historians have compared the current state of affairs to that just before the outbreak of World War I, when great powers sought political advantage in Europe. Others invoke the years that immediately followed World War II, the period of rising tensions that gave birth to the cold war. Whatever the point of comparison, the message is clear: As with those eras, our time is witness to a tectonic shift in international relations.
Such are the aftershocks that have continued and will continue to follow the earthquake that was September 11. This book and DVD represent an effort by CBS News to chronicle the early hours, days, and weeks of this seismic jolt. They are intended as historical documents and reminders reminders not only of the fact that terror struck on a beautiful fall day but of the pictures, sounds, and emotions that accompanied the attacks and our first efforts to deal with them, as a nation united in fear, anger, grief, and determination.
Much has been written and said about the effect of September 11 on America: that it awakened us from our illusions of invulnerability, that it shattered the sense of insularity that complacency and prosperity had let creep into our national discourse. These observations sting, but there is truth in them. And like so many Americans of all professions, September 11 forced those of us who report the news to reevaluate what we do and how we do it.
For me and my colleagues at CBS News, the scale of this story and the many stories that have flowed from it has given us an opportunity to do the kind of journalism to which we aspire. It is a chance to perform a public service, to report news that is not only gripping but that also matters. From what I've seen in the year between then and now, it is a chance that has been seized upon by much if not most of America's working press. The focus, for now, is on the truly important. International coverage is up. It is not yet at the levels where it should be, and it may prove to be a temporary development, but for the moment the news reflects and informs America's renewed outward gaze.
However painfully, we have received an education. But it has not only been an education of the mind. Our hearts have learned much, too. We have been confronted by the courage of the firefighters and police who answered the call at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, by the ordinary citizens who gave their lives to deter United Airlines Flight 93 from its murderous path, by the fighting men and women who travel far and give so much to defend our country. The exhaustive labors of emergency workers and volunteers at Ground Zero have taught us new lessons in loyalty and love. Each flag-draped stretcher and coffin, every moment of silence, has given us a new appreciation of the word respect. The dry rattle of a funeral drum, the plaintive wail of bagpipes playing "Amazing Grace" these sounds summon our deepest feelings with a new sincerity, to a degree that may have made us blush in the past.
But the past, as it has been said, is a foreign land. It is in the spirit of understanding the distance we have come in a year that CBS News offers this collection of remembrances from the day and the days that followed when we were first pulled, blinking and confused and very much against our wills, across the border to the lives we know now.
New York City
Copyright © 2002 by CBS Worldwide Inc.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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As a survivor of the WTC disaster, What We Saw just ripped my heart apart after reading other people's stories. Though I have a story to tell myself, the stories in this book are real and far more horrible than anyone can imagine. I will never stop praying for all those lost lives. I live with this everyday, it is part of me now and there is not such thing as closure. It's a must have book for everyone. I cannot bring myself to watch the DVD as of yet.
terrific book about one of America's darkest and saddest days, must reading for this generation and future ones. Having been born in NYC , now in LA , and worked across from the WTC it brought home a flood of emotion and thoughts of my beautiful city .
I loved the book so much that I could not put the book down at anytime or bedtime. It is a terrific book for young adults and up. Easy to read. DVD is also, great to watch. Can't wait to read it again.
I bought this book mainly for the DVD, as I had often wished I'd have thrown a tape in on September 11th. Of course at the time I didnt realize what a life altering event this would become. The book is full of informative and emotional stories from people who were there and experienced the tragic events first hand. I couldn't put the book down and recommend it as an addition to anyones collelction of books.
What We Saw: The Events Of September 11,2001, in Words, Pictures, and Video is a heart-wrenching account of September 11th and the days following. With every story and picture, one feels the pain, suffering, and heroism displayed by all who were either there or had someone that they loved there. This is a book that you will not be able to put down until you have looked at every picture, read every story, listened and watched the events unraveling and cried once again for the events as they occurred. This is a book to be shared with all that we love and care for, so that we can prevent this type of infamy from ever occurring again.
I am still in the middle of reading this book. I haven't watched the DVD yet but I am unable to put the book down. It is a collection of differet stories. From journalist to everyday people and their accounts of that fatefull day. I wanted to get this book with the DVD because I wanted to have something to always remember that day by. Not that it's not ingraved in my memory forever. But I also wanted to have it to show my children someday. 9/11 always in our hearts and minds. GOD BLESS AMERICA Michele
The book/DVD set is a superb documentation on the CBS News live coverage of What We Saw as the events unfold and the aftermath on this horrible day of Sept 11, 2001. A wonderful DVD (2 hours of original news reports/interviews). Kudos to CBS News.
This book and DVD collection has been the best documentary record of September 11th that I have read yet. It covers all of the events that went on that day and the weeks to follow. Very VERY good... HIGHLY RECOMENDED!!
The first thing I did was watch the DVD that accompanied the book. Narrated by Dan Rather,it recapped with news footage the events of that terrible day and the days following. The book contained many excerpts from articles written at the time and shortly thereafter concerning different aspects of that day. The book and dvd are a good addition to a collection on the events of 9/11.