OVERRIDE

Watching the World Change

The Stories Behind the Images of 9/11

David Friend

Picador

A Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year
 
Watching the World Change is an account of the most universally observed news event in human history: the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Imperiled office workers, horrified tourists, professional photographers, documentary makers who happened to be filming in downtown Manhattan that day: these were the people who, facing disaster, took photographs of it, and so placed the horror of the attacks before our eyes. Their images were beamed around the world immediately, so that two billion people watched the terrible events as they were happening.
 
Here David Friend tells the stories behind the images that altered our sense of the world forever—from the happenstance shots taken by bystanders as the north tower was struck to the now-iconic tableau of three firefighters raising the Stars and Stripes at the site that would soon be known as Ground Zero. He takes us back, day by day, through the week after the attacks, reminding us that photographs were at once a shock to the senses and an anchor to reality—as distraught families posted snapshots of their missing loved ones, police sought terrorists' faces on security-camera videotapes, politicians used photo ops to project reassurance and authority, and scientists employed forensic photography to identify the dead. He explains how advances in television, digital photography, and the Internet, coming together at the turn of the millennium, made 9/11 an awful opening to a new visual age. And he explores the controversy over whether the images of 9/11 are exploitative or redemptive—and shows how photographs help us to witness, to grieve, and finally to understand the unimaginable.

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Watching the World Change
1TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11French filmmaker Jules Naudet, shooting downtown, heard the roar of a plane above him. He raised his digital video camera. He aimed a bit ahead of him, to the space in the sky where he thought the plane was headed. His response was uncanny: just in time, and position, to record the impact of the plane as it plunged into the north face of the north tower.At the same instant, across the East River, a Czech immigrant named Pavel Hlava was sitting in the passenger's seat of an SUV in Brooklyn, video camera in hand. He was accompanied by his brother
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REVIEWS

Praise for Watching the World Change

“A lucid, thoughtful, and wide-ranging book…David Friend’s excellent writing conveys more of the truth of the day than photographs can.” —Garrison Keillor, The New York Times Book Review

“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

“Compelling…Surely the most original treatment so far of the cultural impact of the day.” —Frank Rich, The New York Times

“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

“Riveting…wide-ranging and stimulating.”—Chicago Tribune

“Friend is always a profoundly empathetic writer, which is a tribute to his sense of proportion—and to his essential humanity.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“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

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • David Friend

  • David Friend, Vanity Fair's editor of creative development, was the directory of photography for Life magazine. He won an Emmy (with Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter) for the documentary 9/11, about two French documentary makers drawn into the disaster. He lives in New Rochelle, New York.

  • David Friend Harry Benson
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    Watching the World Change

    The Stories Behind the Images of 9/11

    David Friend

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    Picador

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