Watching the World Change
The Stories Behind the Images of 9/11
By David Friend
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374299330, 464pp.)
Publication Date: August 22, 2006
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The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center was the most universally observed news event in human history. That the event was so visual is owing to the people who, facing disaster, took photographs of it: imperiled office workers, horrified tourists, professional photographers risking their lives. Conceived by Osama bin Laden as the toppling of an image of America right before the world’s eyes, the tragedy swiftly came to be defined by photography, as families posted snapshots of their loved ones, police sought terrorists’ faces on security-camera videotapes, and officials recorded the devastation and identified the dead.
In Watching the World Change, David Friend tells the stories behind fifty of the images that altered our sense of our world forever—from the happenstance shots taken by bystanders as the first tower was struck to the scene of three firemen raising the Stars and Stripes at the site. He tells unforgettable stories of photographers and rescuers, victims and survivors. He shows how advances
in television, digital photography, and the Internet produced an effect whereby more than two billion people saw the terrible events as they happened. He explores the controversy about whether images of 9/11 are redemptive or exploitative; and he shows how photographs help us to witness, to grieve, and finally to understand the unimaginable.
David Friend, Vanity Fair’s editor of creative development and formerly Life’s director of photography, won an Emmy award for the documentary 9/11. He lives in New Rochelle, New York. A portion of this book’s proceeds will be given to 9/11-related charities.
"As I read Watching The World Change, my pulse began to quicken. This is an intricately woven tale of that terrible day, and terrible week, that is both gripping and thought-provoking. The images, of course, are seared in our consciousness, but after reading this book you will look at them in a whole new way. Much has been written about 9/11, but David Friend shows it to us as no one has before." --Anderson Cooper
"The crystalline images of September 11 soon became blurred, either by hysteria or exploitation or by a certain reticence that mutated into near-denial. At last we have a book that looks steadily through the lens and does not flinch, but which cancels voyeurism by its care and measure and by the multiplicity of its perspectives." --Christopher Hitchens
"To read Watching the World Change is an overwhelming experience. Beautifully written and observed, as a tribute to the dead, it embodies the Buddhist wisdom about change, life, and the world more than anything written after the events of that day.
"A reader can only bear witness to the tenderness and wisdom at the core of this book, which distinguish it throughout. David Friend's passionate sympathy engages the reader without relenting. Just about all the observations that might be sought from the events of that day are here: victims, survivors in every sense, responders. Loss, pride, a helix of sorrow and shame along the meridians of the world. Along with its records of grief, Watching the World Change celebrates the courage to go on, which may be the most admirable and irreplaceable of human virtues." --Robert Stone