Monday, June 17, 2013

What is Joseph Margulies reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Joseph Margulies, author of What Changed When Everything Changed: 9/11 and the Making of National Identity.

His entry begins:
Presently, I am in Italy, and when I'm here I try to do most of my reading in Italian. I am halfway through the Italian translation of the Agatha Christie classic, Murder on the Orient Express, which I somehow overlooked as a child. I am also reading, Camus Nel Narghilè, a novel by Hamid Grine, an Algerian writer. It was translated into Italian this year from the original French. It's a wonderful story about a young man's search to know the father he never understood or loved, told through the device of the author's discovery of the (fictional) son of Albert Camus. Rounding out my forays into Italian, I am reading...[read on]
About What Changed When Everything Changed, from the publisher:
Beautifully written and carefully reasoned, this bold and provocative work upends the conventional wisdom about the American reaction to crisis. Margulies demonstrates that for key elements of the post-9/11 landscape—especially support for counterterror policies like torture and hostility to Islam—American identity is not only darker than it was before September 11, 2001, but substantially more repressive than it was immediately after the attacks. These repressive attitudes, Margulies shows us, have taken hold even as the terrorist threat has diminished significantly.

Contrary to what is widely imagined, at the moment of greatest perceived threat, when the fear of another attack “hung over the country like a shroud,” favorable attitudes toward Muslims and Islam were at record highs, and the suggestion that America should torture was denounced in the public square. Only much later did it become socially acceptable to favor “enhanced interrogation” and exhibit clear anti-Muslim prejudice. Margulies accounts for this unexpected turn and explains what it means to the nation’s identity as it moves beyond 9/11. We express our values in the same language, but that language can hide profound differences and radical changes in what we actually believe. “National identity,” he writes, “is not fixed, it is made.”
Learn more about What Changed When Everything Changed at the Yale University Press website.

Joseph Margulies: Writers Read (June 2007).

The Page 99 Test: What Changed When Everything Changed.

Writers Read: Joseph Margulies.

--Marshal Zeringue