The Terror Dream
What 9/11 Revealed about AmericaSusan Faludi
1 March 2008
Published by Atlantic Books
Shortlisted for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award for Non-fiction, 2008
‘A brilliant, unsentimental, often darkly humorous account of America’s nervous breakdown after 9/11.’ — Publishers Weekly *starred review*
In this remarkable and strikingly original examination of America post-9/11, Susan Faludi shines a light on the psychological response to the attacks. Turning her acute observational powers on the media, popular culture, and political life, Faludi unearths a drama shot through with baffling contradictions. Why did Americans respond to an assault against their global dominance with a frenzied summons to restore ‘traditional’ manhood, marriage and maternity? Why did they react as if the hijackers had targeted not a commercial and military edifice but the family home and nursery? Why did an attack fuelled by hatred of Western emancipation lead them to a regressive fixation on ‘Doris Day’ womanhood and ‘John Wayne’ masculinity, with trembling mothers, swaggering presidential gunslingers, and the ‘rescue’ of a female soldier, Jessica Lynch, cast as a ‘helpless little girl’?
The answer, Faludi finds, lies in a uniquely American historical anomaly: the nation that in recent memory has been least vulnerable to domestic attack was forged in traumatizing assaults on town and village by non-white ‘barbarians’. That humiliation lies concealed under a myth of cowboy bluster and feminine frailty, which is reanimated whenever threat and shame looms. The Terror Dream is a brilliant and important new look at what 9/11 revealed about America.