Liberty Street: Encounters at Ground Zero

SUNY Press
Free sample

A haunting record of the destruction and rebirth of the neighborhood surrounding Ground Zero.

When writer and feature filmmaker Peter Josyph spent a year and a half combing the historic streets and debris-blasted buildings of Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan, talking with workers and residents, capturing its struggles and transformations, he became what he calls a “citizen-artist,” personally shooting over two hundred hours of footage for his film Liberty Street: Alive at Ground Zero, and writing this haunting, eyewitness account of the extraordinary world that was created on September 11 and has vanished now forever.

When the Ground Zero neighborhood was misinformed and marginalized by city and federal agencies, it was left to its own devices in coping with round-the-clock deconstruction, toxic infestation, corrupt landlords, reluctant insurers, and simple access to the place they were proud—and cursed—to call their home. But loyal Downtowners who ran for their lives from the collapse of the Twin Towers returned with a resolve to restore their world to order. Exploring this “dust-driven world of collateral damage,” Josyph documented their struggle at a time when there were few there to witness it, and bans against photography made him “a spy in the house of destruction.” In what the New York Timescalled “a personal, impressionistic, almost poetic account,” Josyph finds in each detail a new way to envision that terrible morning, and he challenges the more simplistic, mainstream views of Ground Zero with vivid portraits of brave, exceptional—and complex—New Yorkers who made a place for themselves in that tragic and transitory neighborhood.

This expanded edition includes a new chapter and additional photographs.

“This is an amazing book that explores a world that was never seen by those outside of New York City.” —Sacramento Book Review 

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About the author

Peter Josyph is an award-winning writer, painter, actor, and filmmaker. He is the author of What One Man Said to Another: Talks with Richard Selzer; editor of The Wounded River: The Civil War Letters of John Vance Lauderdale, M.D., which was a New York Times Book Review’s Notable Book of 1993; and editor of Letters to a Best Friend by Richard Selzer, also published by SUNY Press. He lives on Long Island. 

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Aug 20, 2012
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Pages
343
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ISBN
9781438444215
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / 21st Century
History / United States / State & Local / Middle Atlantic (DC, DE, MD, NJ, NY, PA)
Political Science / Terrorism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Novelist Cormac McCarthy’s brilliant and challenging work demands deep engagement from his readers. In Cormac McCarthy’s House, author, painter, photographer, and actor-director Peter Josyph draws on a wide range of experience to pose provocative, unexpected questions about McCarthy’s work, how it is achieved, and how it is interpreted.

As a visual artist, Josyph wrestles with the challenge of rendering McCarthy’s former home in El Paso as a symbol of a great writer’s workshop. As an actor and filmmaker, he analyzes the high art of Tommy Lee Jones in The Sunset Limited and No Country for Old Men. Invoking the recent suicide of a troubled friend, he grapples with the issue of “our brother’s keeper” in The Crossing and The Sunset Limited. But for Josyph, reading the finest prose-poet of our day is a project into which he invites many voices, and his investigations include a talk with Mark Morrow about photographing McCarthy while he was writing Blood Meridian; an in-depth conversation with director Tom Cornford on the challenges of staging The Sunset Limited and The Stonemason; a walk through the streets, waterfronts, and hidden haunts of Suttree with McCarthy scholar and Knoxville resident Wesley Morgan; insights from the cast of The Gardener’s Son about a controversial scene in that film; actress Miriam Colon’s perspective on portraying the Dueña Alfonsa opposite Matt Damon in All the Pretty Horses; and a harsh critique of Josyph’s views on The Crossing by McCarthy scholar Marty Priola, which leads to a sometimes heated debate. Illustrated with thirty-one photographs, Josyph’s unconventional journeys into the genius of Cormac McCarthy form a new, highly personal way of appreciating literary greatness.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“This is history at its most immediate and moving…A marvelous and memorable book.” —Jon Meacham

“Remarkable…A priceless civic gift…On page after page, a reader will encounter words that startle, or make him angry, or heartbroken.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Visceral...I repeatedly cried…This book captures the emotions and unspooling horror of the day.” —NPR

“Had me turning each page with my heart in my throat…There’s been a lot written about 9/11, but nothing like this. I urge you to read it.” —Katie Couric

The first comprehensive oral history of September 11, 2001—a panoramic narrative woven from the voices of Americans on the front lines of an unprecedented national trauma.

Over the past eighteen years, monumental literature has been published about 9/11, from Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower, which traced the rise of al-Qaeda, to The 9/11 Commission Report, the government’s definitive factual retrospective of the attacks. But one perspective has been missing up to this point—a 360-degree account of the day told through the voices of the people who experienced it.

Now, in The Only Plane in the Sky, award-winning journalist and bestselling historian Garrett Graff tells the story of the day as it was lived—in the words of those who lived it. Drawing on never-before-published transcripts, recently declassified documents, original interviews, and oral histories from nearly five hundred government officials, first responders, witnesses, survivors, friends, and family members, Graff paints the most vivid and human portrait of the September 11 attacks yet.

Beginning in the predawn hours of airports in the Northeast, we meet the ticket agents who unknowingly usher terrorists onto their flights, and the flight attendants inside the hijacked planes. In New York City, first responders confront a scene of unimaginable horror at the Twin Towers. From a secret bunker underneath the White House, officials watch for incoming planes on radar. Aboard the small number of unarmed fighter jets in the air, pilots make a pact to fly into a hijacked airliner if necessary to bring it down. In the skies above Pennsylvania, civilians aboard United Flight 93 make the ultimate sacrifice in their place. Then, as the day moves forward and flights are grounded nationwide, Air Force One circles the country alone, its passengers isolated and afraid.

More than simply a collection of eyewitness testimonies, The Only Plane in the Sky is the historic narrative of how ordinary people grappled with extraordinary events in real time: the father and son working in the North Tower, caught on different ends of the impact zone; the firefighter searching for his wife who works at the World Trade Center; the operator of in-flight telephone calls who promises to share a passenger’s last words with his family; the beloved FDNY chaplain who bravely performs last rites for the dying, losing his own life when the Towers collapse; and the generals at the Pentagon who break down and weep when they are barred from rushing into the burning building to try to rescue their colleagues.

At once a powerful tribute to the courage of everyday Americans and an essential addition to the literature of 9/11, The Only Plane in the Sky weaves together the unforgettable personal experiences of the men and women who found themselves caught at the center of an unprecedented human drama. The result is a unique, profound, and searing exploration of humanity on a day that changed the course of history, and all of our lives.
NATIONAL BESTSELLER
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Who are the immensely wealthy right-wing ideologues shaping the fate of America today? From the bestselling author of The Dark Side, an electrifying work of investigative journalism that uncovers the agenda of this powerful group.

In her new preface, Jane Mayer discusses the results of the most recent election and Donald Trump's victory, and how, despite much discussion to the contrary, this was a huge victory for the billionaires who have been pouring money in the American political system.

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National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
LA Times Book Prize Finalist
PEN/Jean Stein Book Award Finalist
Shortlisted for the Lukas Prize
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