After: How America Confronted the September 12 Era

Front Cover
Simon & Schuster, 2003 - History - 723 pages
The story begins on September 12, 2001. It reads like a novel. But the characters in award-winning journalist Steven Brill's America are real. They don't have all the answers or all the virtues of fictional heroes.

It is because they are so human -- so much like the rest of us -- that makes the way they rise to the challenge of September 12 such an inspiring story about how America really works.

A Customs inspector somehow has to guard against a nuclear bomb that could be hidden in one of the thousands of cargo containers from all over the world sitting on his dock in New York harbor.

A young woman in New Jersey, suddenly widowed with three young children, doesn't know how to get the keys to her husband's car, much less how she can challenge the head of a federal victims' fund.

An entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, who makes machines that screen luggage for bombs, can't decide if this crisis is an opportunity he should seize.

Attorney General John Ashcroft has no idea how to find the new, hidden enemy living among us.

The young, just-hired director of the American Civil Liberties Union wonders how he can keep Ashcroft from going too far.

The CEO of a giant insurer has to decide whether to risk economic panic by not paying damage claims that he might legally be able to avoid.

Red Cross President Bernadine Healy has to figure out how to collect and allocate donations while dodging a hostile board of directors.

Career civil servant Gale Rossides has to recruit and train the largest workforce ever hired by the government -- the new airport passenger screeners.

A proprietor of a shoe repair shop -- helped by two young women, pro bono lawyers -- has torebuild a business buried in the rubble of Ground Zero.

A Detroit Border Patrol agent -- whose bosses want to fire him for speaking out about how unprotected his stretch of border is -- has to choose whether to risk his family's livelihood by sounding the alarm.

Tom Ridge has to run through a bureaucratic wall to mount a true homeland security defense.

Drawing on 347 on-the-record interviews and revelations from memos of government meetings, court filings, and other documents, Brill gives us a front-row seat as these and other players in this real-life drama cross paths in a series of alliances and confrontations and fight for their own interests and their version of the public interest.

The result is a gritty story -- and trailblazing journalism -- that inspires us not because these Americans or their country are perfect, but because they were tough enough, anchored enough, and living in a system that encouraged and enabled them to meet the awesome challenges they faced.

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AFTER: How America Confronted the September 12 Era

User Review  - Kirkus

Ash Tuesday (***UPFRONT EDITORIAL***) Where were you on September 11, 2001? American children will someday ask that question, as their great-great-grandparents once asked after their contemporaries ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Othemts - LibraryThing

A nice cross-section of stories of people directly affected by the September 11th attacks in the first year following the atrocities. Although the author betrays a right-wing perspective and overuses the Sept. 10th/Sept. 12th metaphor, these are some well told stories about our national tragedy. Read full review

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About the author (2003)

Steven Brill, a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, is the author of the bestselling The Teamsters. He founded The American Lawyer magazine in 1979, which expanded into a chain of legal publications. In 1991 he founded cable's Court TV. After selling his interests in those businesses in 1997, he founded Brill's Content, a magazine about the media, which closed in 2001.

After September 11, 2001, Brill became a columnist for Newsweek and an analyst for NBC on issues related to the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. A winner of the National Magazine Award, Brill lives in New York City with his wife and three children.

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