New York, September 11 - Magnum Photographers

Review by Jack Foley

THE events of September 11, 2001, continue to maintain a presence in everyday life. Not an image, film, or television programme set in and around New York passes without some form of reminder - whether it be post-September or pre. The image of the Twin Towers has entered the modern psyche.

And while the search for the perpetrators continues and life in America (and the world) attempts to get back to normal, the reminders of that historic day continue to bombard us, almost as mercilessly as the news footage taken of the attack itself.

Countless theories, documentaries and books have appeared on the subject - yet it is little wonder. Man's morbid fascination with death and destruction is, quite possibly, part of the driving force behind his insatiable quest to see the worst in everything.

September 11, more than any other attrocity in recent history, changed a world and a people. People say that they remember exactly where they were on the day that Kennedy was assassinated, or that Pearl Harbor was bombed, or even when Princess Diana was killed in a car crash. Yet even these tragedies become dwarfed by the scale of the attrocities in America (in both NY and Washington) on that fateful day.

I have written before on this site of how I have visited New York post-September and stood at the spot where the Twin Towers once occupied. It moved me almost to tears and will remain with me forever.

Of the many books on sale chronicling the events of the day, Reuters September 11 is a very stark reminder, as is New York, September 11 by Magnum photographers, which I review here.

The book contains many startling images from the day - of the attack itself and its aftermath, when a nation struggled to come to terms with what had happened and pulled together in great adversity. It pays tribute - both pictorally and verbally - to the tremendous acts of courage and bravery which took place in the hours and days after the attrocity; while mourning the loss of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Each photographer whose work is depicted was working or living in the Big Apple at the time, and each gives a poignant, heartfelt and honest insight into what it was like being there on the day. The chapters themselves speak for the types of feeling contained within - from the 'On 52nd Street' section, to 'Uncertain and Afraid', 'Waves of Anger and Fear' and 'The Unmentionable Odour of Death'.

Each page contains images which have to be seen to be believed - some of which, such as the work of Thomas Hoepker - have become infamous.

And then, rounding it off, is a collection of images of the Twin Towers in all their former glory, taken from close-up, above and below and from different parts of New York. For anyone who loves New York, the book is a heartfelt, poignant and gutsy reminder of an event the world will never forget.

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