Book reviews – ‘The Terror Dream’ by Susan Faludi
We asked six Bristol Festival of Ideas fans to review some of the books shortlisted for this year’s Book Prize. Here are their responses to Susan Faludi’s The Terror Dream:
Review by Charles Freeman:
The theme of the first part of Susan Faludi’s The Terror Dream also deals with the power of the press. The attacks of 9/11 had to be dealt with as a reality that was soon enveloped in myth (the ‘heroic (male) fire-fighter’). Faludi provides fascinating details of the many responses from both media and individuals and continues her discussion with a study of the ‘rescue’ of Jessica Lynch in Iraq. I found her attempt to link this into earlier American myths of the rescued female captive (from native Americans) less convincing. The evidence she herself provides suggests in fact the incoherence of the response to the 9/11 attacks rather than ‘the coherent and inexorable whole, the cumulative elements of a national fantasy in which we are deeply invested, our elaborately constructed myth of invincibility’ that she claims (pg.14).
Review by Barry Ramshaw:
Faludi’s book is a report from a key battlefield in America’s Culture Wars. Backed by startling documentary evidence, the author shows how the political Right appropriated the tragedy of 9/11 and used it as a bludgeon against both feminist advances and independent women generally.
By portraying all women, from the survivors of the Twin Towers to the mythical media-promoted ‘Security Moms’ as victims needing a ‘real man’, the Right and their allies pursued an agenda of infantilising and re-domesticating the entire female population.
Whether discussing the media commenting sagely on women’s different brains, Jessica Lynch being morphed into a sugar coated bimbo, or 9/11 widows being demonised for refusing to conform to the required stereotype, Faludi convincingly portrays a concerted effort to reassert ‘traditional’ values.
The author goes on to show how this myth of measuring ‘national male strength through female peril’ has a long and dishonourable history in the US, from Daniel Boone to the Cold War, by way of the Klan.
Stunningly original, necessary: my candidate for the award.
Review by Gina Sargunar:
Susan Faludi must be applauded for this brave, unflinching, astonishing analysis.
Her book is a searchlight, exposing the myths, falsehoods and propaganda of America’s response to 9/11, and draws our attention to parallels in America’s past. It is absolutely clear why the reaction to 9/11 was inevitable, predictable and widespread.
These reactions, false as they were, to a genuine atrocity, coloured global reaction and perception. The world is reaping the consequences of American inability to face up to their less than heroic past.
There is a message here for us all: face reality or face the consequences!
Click here to read an interview with Susan Faludi.
Read more about the Bristol Festival of Ideas Book Prize here.Jump to top 1 Comment »
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