‘To not understand the mythic underpinnings of our response to 9/11’, Susan Faludi tells us in the introduction of her new book, ‘is, in a fundamental way, to not understand ourselves.’ ‘To fail to comprehend the historical provenance of our reaction, the phylogeny behind our ontogeny, is to find ourselves thwarted in our ability to express what we have undergone.’
If you find, like me, that a little phylogeny and ontogeny go a long way, then you too might fail to agree with Barbara Ehrenreich’s puff that ‘This is a book that had to be written.’ Or you might agree with that, but acknowledge that this does not mean that the book has to be read.
The premise of Faludi’s work is that in the aftermath of 9/11 America turned back to national myths and stereotypes to see itself through: the heroic male protector, the stranded damsel – the Wild Western movie played out on a national scale. There is some truth in this. It would