Forever Changed

How America's identity was altered after the tragedy of September 11th.

What changed when everything changed : 9/11 and the making of national identity

Margulies, Joseph. Yale, 2013
376p index afp, 9780300176551 $30.00

national identity book cover

How the 9/11 terrorist attacks changed America is the subject of this compelling book that locates the change in American culture and values. Margulies (associate director, Roderick MacArthur Justice Center, Northwestern Univ. School of Law) asserts that the shared national identity shaped by the commitment to liberty, equality, and tolerance did not change per se; instead, 9/11 ushered in a new master narrative that altered the meaning of these terms while also excluding suspected terrorists and Muslims from their application. This master narrative invoked American values as justification for violation of them in the interest of national security. It also found ways to bypass the law, preferring to call torture “enhanced interrogation” and similarly substituting other euphemisms as a means to accommodate violations of US and international law. The author describes how, during the Bush administration, there was not an explicit shift in cultural values; this occurred under Obama, as his efforts to reverse many of his predecessor’s policies resulted in a cultural solidification of support for new cultural norms less supportive of individual rights and more tolerant of national security. Excellent for collections on law, American politics, and terrorism.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels.
Reviewer: D. Schultz, Hamline University
Recommendation: Highly recommended
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – Political Science – U.S. Politics
Choice Issue: Jan 2014