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Reader's Digest Lite on 9/11
on 10 March 2013
The obliteration of the Twin Towers was signal. The site might have been cleaned up but the dust and debris are still settling. This much we can say: it changes everything for the foreseeable future. Henceforth, it's war without end - and the torch will pass to a new generation (lucky them!). It warrants a historian of mettle.
Alas Bob Woodward is no Livy. Tacitus he ain't. Nor is he a latter-day Ammianus Marcellinus. He lacks the flare of Suetonius. Hell, even Herodian could rightly demand that he fetch a cup of instant coffee. Where does one start?
Bob's powers of characterisation are deficient and vividly so: when George W Bush is conveyed with the same diction and intellect as Colin Powell, it is time to complain. Marionettes, as far as I know, are no substitute for flesh and blood. Furthermore, the tension which existed between State and Defense is flimsily portrayed unless the sound-byte is your plumb-line. Bob's analytical powers are equally moribund; strip this work of its `Jim and Jan' narrative and there is no residual - yep, none at all. The strength of America lies in its commitment to truth. Not once does Bobby ask himself the hard questions: why did this event occur? How wise was the response of the Bush Administration? Was there an opportunity here to change the dynamic whilst hunting down the perpetrators? To what degree did the response fire-proof the Republic from repeat attacks? Who is picking up the tab? On these matters, Bob is silent. Within his limits, Woodward subsequently changed his tune in later instalments when it became clear that lunacy was running amok in the Bush Administration as it sought to recreate the Charge of the Light Brigade in Iraq, all funded by our Chinese buddies. This realisation, however, lies in the future. For the moment, all is well in the sybaritic Washington restaurant as Bob pays court to various luminaries and their chatter.
If you want a `who said what and when' construct of the events following 9/11, your search ends here. In the days of yore, Bob brought down a president. He's dined out on it ever since. It shows!