What’s the Best 9/11 History?

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August 20, 2010 4:32 p.m.

I have a favor to ask. I’m looking for a good history of the 9/11 attacks. What’s the best one around?

I ask because I was just online and had to look up a detail about the attacks. So I went to the Wikipedia page on the attacks. And as they often are, you have this big, systematic, fairly dispassionate account with just a mass of details. And even though I remember the attacks, did a fair amount of reporting on them in the days, months and years after and have been, in various ways, writing and thinking about them for years, I realized that enough time has now gone by (about 9 years) that it’s becoming recognizable to me as history. And I wanted to read it all together again, as history.

Now, there are a slew of books on the attacks. Plenty of the ‘radical Islam is going to kill us all’ variety; and others of the ‘it’s all George Bush’s fault’ variety. Then there are first person accounts, tell-alls. But none of those are what I’m interested in. I’m looking for a good factually-grounded narrative history of the attacks, their background, execution and probably something on the aftermath as well. As much as is possible in these matters I’m not looking for one with an overly strong thesis, especially not a political one. I’m looking for a good narrative description of what happened.

I’ve probably seen a dozen of these books come across my desk as review copies or at book stores or in reviews over the years. But I can’t recall a lot of specific ones now and I never new which were the best. So, again, a favor. Which should I pick up?

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