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.
Susan Faludi is the author of Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man and Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Non-Fiction. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Nation, among other publications. She lives in San Francisco.