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What Changed When Everything Changed

9/11 and the Making of National Identity

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


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.”

From Publishers Weekly

Jul 01, 2013 – In this provocative study, Margulies (Guantanamo And The Abuse of Presidential Power) looks at the factors contributing to the creation and evolution of American national identity, and how the events of 9/11 altered it. He focuses on the so-called American Creed, which boils down to "liberty, equality, limited government, the rule of law, and the dignity of the individual...within a commitment to civic virtue." As he shows, the Creed remains intact even as popular opinion, government execution, and methodology change. He dissects the Presidential tenures of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, examining the flaws and strengths of each approach to factors such as Islam, torture, and the punitive turn. While the narrative has a dry, academic tone, Margulies's uncompromising focus reveals a fascinating, if liberally-biased, tale of an America that has always been at odds with its own stated nature. As Margulies puts it, "our ideals have not changed....We change only what these words represent...It is how we make and remake our national identity." It is dense reading and his conclusions will spark debate, but it's an important text for understanding how and why America has changed in the past decade.
What Changed When Everything Changed
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  • $25.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: United States
  • Published: May 21, 2013
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Seller: Yale University Press
  • Print Length: 392 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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