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Fiction, Nonfiction Explore Aftermath of 9/11

In the 10 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, there has been no shortage of books exploring the effect the events had on our lives. There are books about the effect on our laws, politics and culture, but which ones best explore the post-9/11 world?

For an answer, we asked five experts: Richard K. Betts, Columbia University political science professor and director of the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies; Michael Doyle, Columbia Law School foreign and security policy professor; Patrick Doherty, deputy director of the New America Foundation’s national security studies program; David Siddhartha Patel, Cornell University assistant professor of government; and Theodore Lowi, Cornell University professor of American institutions.

Their suggestions span from fact to fiction:


“The Future of Power”

by Joseph S. Nye Jr.

Nye is a respected Harvard University professor and has worked as a foreign policy adviser to Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. In his book, he addresses terrorism, global politics and the changing concept of power in foreign policy.

While not specifically about 9/11, Doyle said, “The Future of Power” provides a thorough examination of foreign policy since the attacks.

“Nye’s recent book is a deep and comprehensive rumination on how power has changed in the past decade,” Doyle said. “Reading it will help any serious citizen of the U.S. understand and cope with our confusing times where cyber war is as significant as terrorist armed conflict.”


“A National Strategic Narrative” 

by Mr. Y

Doherty suggested reading this memo released by the Woodrow Wilson Center and authored by Navy Capt. Wayne Porter and Marine Col. Mark Mykleby under the pseudonym “Mr. Y.” 

Porter and Mykleby, both special assistants to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, argue that relying solely on military force and focusing only on terrorism will not necessarily lead to the most secure future for the United States. 

“Ten years of focus on one corner of the spectrum of domestic and global challenges has been distracting, and it’s time to begin a national conversation around America’s grand strategy,” Doherty said. “While terrorism is important, it’s not existential.”

In many ways echoing the “soft power” concept coined by Nye, Porter and Mykleby envision a United States that places a greater emphasis on diplomacy and utilizes its education, energy and social policies as tools to engage with foreign entities.


“Law, Ethics, and the War on Terror”

by Matthew Evangelista

Our country’s legal response to 9/11 has changed or at least significantly challenged domestic and international law. This book, authored by a Cornell political science and history professor, looks at the controversial policies put in place in the name of the war on terror, including assassinations, detentions and torture.

“His book should be the bible of discourse on foreign policy thought, planning and action — combining ethics with analysis,” Lowi said.


“Islam and Muslims: A Guide to Diverse Experience in a Modern World”

by Mark Sedgwick

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