9/11 reading list

Sixteen years after 9/11 and we are still at war. Here are a couple of books that I have read recently that are relevant…

Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam, by Mark Bowden. The book is about more than the one battle. There are excellent introductory chapters putting the entire conflict into context. According to the author, we were on the wrong side the whole time, opposing the democratic will of the Vietnamese people. We fooled ourselves with wishful statistics. Our Air Force was plainly useless against an agricultural society. Eventually Robert McNamara figured out that we were losing and, despite having been a primary author of the war under both Kennedy and Johnson, admitted it. He was then fired by Lyndon Johnson for “having gone soft.”

Conquerors: How Portugal Forged the First Global Empire, by Roger Crowley. One of the smallest and poorest European powers blunders around Africa and into the Indian Ocean and Red Sea. This was the first modern conflict between Islam and the West and, thanks mostly to superior skills with artillery, the West came out ahead. The lack of understanding between Western Europeans and the rest of the world was already well-developed. When the Portuguese arrived in India and were taken by a Hindu prince to a Hindu temple, for example, they thought that they were being hosted by a Christian and taken to worship in a variant of Christianity.

Readers: How are you marking this sad anniversary? Or at least what are your thoughts and reflections?


  1. Joe Shipman

    September 11, 2017 @ 1:35 pm


    I’m arguing with some 9/11 truthers that, whatever the gaps in the official story and the possibilities of many nefarious entities being involved or at least knowing about it in advance, to argue that the planes didn’t hit the towers but instead never existed or were spirited away with all their passengers and crews never to be seen again while the buildings were bombed in a DIFFERENT way and the videos of the planes hitting the towers were quickly and accurately faked and no one ever spilled the beans for 16 years defies probability and logic so badly that no one will listen to their more serious points about who might have known the attack was coming before it happened.

  2. Viking

    September 11, 2017 @ 1:43 pm


    I was in Malaysia 9/11/2001, and within a couple of days, I was told that no Jews working at WTC showed up for work on 9/11.

  3. lion

    September 11, 2017 @ 2:17 pm


    US will never again go to war against a terrorist army on the scale it did. Counting the number of soldiers killing themselves after deployment, our losses were 100%. They were seeing things & fighting weapons no human ever did before. It was a psychological war.

  4. FA

    September 11, 2017 @ 3:36 pm


    However the Portuguese did discover Christians in India: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Thomas_Christians Western Europe had lost contact with them over the centuries. (The book gives only a brief mention of this.)

  5. Jack

    September 11, 2017 @ 5:47 pm


    The contentions of Hue sound dubious. Vietnam has never had any semblance of democracy in its history so the phrase “democratic will” is meaningless. The US did not succeed in Vietnam because a substantial segment of the US public was not behind the war and the Vietnamese communists took advantage of that and their financing from the Soviet Union. No less an authority than Lee Kwan Yew thought the American effort in Vietnam was noble and gave the smaller countries of southeast Asia the opportunity to develop as nations, that without the US effort they all would have all fallen to the communists — an idea that was widely derided at the time as the “domino theory” but in fact was probably true. The Vietnam war was perhaps the most politically charged event in modern US history and the false narrative of Vietnam (the little people fighting for freedom vs. the US imperialists) enabled the left to take the moral high ground, which it holds to this day. McNamara is a questionable source as he spent the last decades of his life trying to wash Vietnam off of his reputation. I doubt that a disinterested history of the Vietnam war will see the light of day for at least a generation.

  6. Chuck

    September 12, 2017 @ 12:21 pm


    Every 9/11, I put that on my old NYC Medical Examiner’s “Fatality Team” badge for a few moments and my thoughts always tend toward how “the few ruin it for the many”. That day brought us TSA, Iraq and all its consequences and debts, and so many other responses, both reasonable and hysterical. What is irrefutable is that life is now more complicated, which none of us need. I hate that.

  7. the other Donald

    September 12, 2017 @ 11:33 pm


    With apologies to Churchill: Never have so many lost so much to so few. 19 fanatics succeeded (in their view) beyond their wildest dreams.

  8. Anonymous

    September 13, 2017 @ 3:22 pm


    lion, are you sure about efects of the war on terror?
    People I worked once with recalled how they liked to get overtime in Irag and wished it continued, (and someone said it was much safer then his native downtown of a large US city), and military personel with several tours of duty in Afganistan that included in-person training of Afgan troups seemed fine as well.

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