The Day That Shook America
A Concise History of 9/11
J. Samuel Walker
On September 11, 2001, author J. Samuel Walker was far from home when he learned of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Stricken by incredulity and anxiety, he found the phone lines jammed when he tried to call his wife, who worked in downtown Washington, DC. At the time and ever since, Walker, like many of his fellow Americans, was and remains troubled by questions about the disaster that occurred on 9/11. What were the purposes of the attacks? Why did US intelligence agencies and the Defense Department, with annual budgets in the hundreds of billions of dollars, fail to protect the country from a small band of terrorists who managed to hijack four airliners and take the lives of nearly three thousand American citizens? What did responsible government agencies and officials know about Al-Qaeda and why did they not do more to head off the threat it posed? What were American policies toward terrorism, especially under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and why did they fall so far short of defending against a series of attacks? Finally, was the tragedy of 9/11 preventable? These are the most important questions that The Day That Shook America: A Concise History of 9/11 tries to answer.
The Day That Shook America offers a long perspective and draws on recently opened records to provide an in-depth analysis of the approaches taken by the Clinton and Bush administrations toward terrorism in general and Al-Qaeda in particular. It also delivers arresting new details on the four hijackings and the collapse of the twin towers. J. Samuel Walker covers both the human drama and the public policy dimensions of one of the most important events in all of US history, and he does so in a way that is both comprehensive and concise.
“After two decades, the dust of 9/11 has settled sufficiently to permit a clear-eyed historical assessment. The Day That Shook America chillingly lays out the reasons why the government agencies responsible for protecting the nation failed catastrophically, and weighs the lasting consequences.”
—Donald A. Ritchie, US Senate historian emeritus and author of Electing FDR: The New Deal Campaign of 1932
“The Day That Shook America is a chilling account of missed opportunities and overlooked clues that led to the horrors of 9/11. J. Samuel Walker evokes both the folly and the heroism of that day, while at the same time detailing the petty bureaucratic turf battles that crippled the nation’s response to Al-Qaeda. Walker’s judicious account of this horrific event does not preclude him from indicting those he believes might have prevented this ‘day of agony.’”
—Stephen F. Knott, author of The Lost Soul of the American Presidency: The Decline into Demagoguery and the Prospects for Renewal
“To read this powerful account of 9/11 is to feel wrenching sadness combined with deep anger: sadness in recalling the terrible toll of lives taken that day, and anger both at those who perpetrated the attack and at the senior US officials who failed to avert it despite the warning signs that were flashing red.”
—Andrew Bacevich, author of After the Apocalypse: America’s Role in a World Transformed
“In this evocative and succinct history, J. Samuel Walker incisively analyzes the efforts to hunt down Osama bin Laden before 9/11 and assesses the actions of the Bush administration in its aftermath. Vividly describing the seizures of the planes by Al-Qaeda terrorists, Walker also eloquently narrates the gruesome circumstances of those entrapped in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. On the twentieth anniversary of that tragic day, we are fortunate to have this well-researched, thoughtful book.”
—Melvyn P. Leffler, Edward Stettinius Professor of History, emeritus, University of VirginiaSee fewer reviews...