Review of In the Shadow of the Fallen Towers: The Seconds, Minutes, Hours, Days, Weeks, Months, and Years After the 9/11 Attacks

In the Shadow of the Fallen Towers: The Seconds, Minutes, Hours, Days, Weeks, Months, and Years after the 9/11 Attacks
by Don Brown; illus. by the author
Middle School, High School    Etch/Houghton   128 pp.    g
8/21    978-0-358-22357-3    $19.99
e-book ed.  978-0-358-21240-9    $14.99

Brown’s America Is Under Attack (rev. 11/11) offered a superb dramatic account of the events of September 11th for readers too young to have remembered it. Here he returns to the topic with a volume for teen readers and a twenty-year perspective on the tragedy. The book begins with the attack itself and its immediate aftermath, capturing the horror, heroism, and particular personal stories and details — claustrophobic images of survivors entombed for hours until pulled from the rubble, exhausted firefighters and rescue dogs, stranded pets, and shoes “absent their owners” littering the ground. The story continues, as Brown depicts subsequent American attacks on Afghanistan and the Taliban, with graphic images of hooded prisoners, waterboarding, and confinement of captives in small boxes. Meanwhile, in the U.S., 108,342 truckloads of rubble are hauled away, a new Freedom Tower is erected, and hope arises from the ashes, a bright American flag dazzling against Brown’s palette of browns and grays. A construction worker on a beam above the skyline delivers a patriotic note: “They hit the World Trade Center. They hit the Pentagon. But they missed America.” Once again, Brown (Drowned City, rev. 9/15; The Unwanted, rev. 9/18; A Shot in the Arm!, rev. 5/21) shows his mastery of the graphic format for portraying humanity in the most trying of circumstances. Back matter includes an informative afterword, statistics, source notes, and an extensive bibliography.

From the July/August 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Dean Schneider

Dean Schneider teaches eighth grade English at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee.

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