In this most original examination of America's post-9/11 culture, Susan Faludi shines a light on the country's psychological response to the attacks on that terrible day. Turning her observational powers on the media, popular culture, and political life, Faludi unearths a barely acknowledged but bedrock societal drama shot through with baffling contradictions. Why, she asks, did our culture respond to an assault against American global dominance with a frenzied summons to restore "traditional" manhood, marriage, and maternity? Why did we react as if the hijackers had targeted not a commercial and military edifice but the family home and nursery? Why did an attack fueled by hatred of Western emancipation lead us to a regressive fixation on Doris Day womanhood and John Wayne masculinity, with trembling "security moms", swaggering presidential gun-slingers, and the "rescue" of a female soldier cast as a "helpless little girl"?
The answer, Faludi finds, lies in a historical anomaly unique to the American experience: the nation that in recent memory has been least vulnerable to domestic attack was forged in traumatizing assaults by non-white "barbarians" on town and village. That humiliation lies concealed under a myth of cowboy bluster and feminine frailty, which is reanimated whenever threat and shame looms - as they did on September 11th.
Brilliant and important, The Terror Dream shows what 9/11 revealed about us - and offers the opportunity to look at ourselves anew.
"A brilliant, unsentimental, often darkly humorous account of America's nervous breakdown after 9/11." (Publishers Weekly)
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gender and 9/11
- S. Weaver