An index for 9-11
It's hard to know what to say about today's story of the day, except that it is strangely brilliant.
Let's start six years ago: The government's 9-11 Commission Report receives wide praise for being written in novelistic fashion. The book opens: "Tuesday, September 11, 2001, dawned temperate and nearly cloudless in the eastern United States. Millions of men and women readied themselves for work." A New York Times review calls the book/report "an improbable literary triumph."
But the book, for reasons that are still somewhat unclear, lacks an index.* So now, six years later, along comes the hot New York literary journal "n+1." It creates an index organized by characters and strange themes in the book, and the index itself tells an oddly accurate and riveting narrative.
Here's an entry under "girlfriends":
— he tells her of a childhood interest in aviation, 163
— she enrolls in dental school, 163
— he condemns her provocative dress, 163
— her refusal to become more religious embarrasses him, 163
— he confesses to her his plan to wage jihad, 163
— after training in Afghanistan he acts more like he did when they first met, 167
— relationship causes him to have doubts about jihad, 168
— their trip to Paris, 224
— their hundreds of phone calls and frequent emails, 225
— she visits him in Florida, tags along to flight training school, 22
Here's the entry for "Ashcroft, John":
— acknowledges "steep learning curve" on taking his job, 209
— receives warnings about al Qaeda, 255, 258
— doesn't want to hear about threats anymore, 265
— assumes FBI is doing fine, 265
— takes no action, 265
— seeks new, explicit authorities for killing, 512
— bad relationship with acting FBI director Thomas Pickard, 536
— complains to Pickard that "nothing ever happens," 536
— 9/10/01: quashes FBI request for increased counterterrorism funding, 210
Like I said, strange. And brilliant.
*4 PM Postscript: Stephanie Kaplan, managing editor of the original 9/11 Commission Report, advises that although the original edition of the report did not include an index because "there was not enough time," subsequent editions did include one.
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