I wasn’t planning to blog about Osama bin Laden this morning until I woke up and heard the news that he had been killed and buried at sea.
On September 11, 2001, I was living in New York City and working for a small publisher located about a mile north of the World Trade Center. While I didn’t know anyone who was killed in the attacks, they were devastating all the same.
Book publishing is influenced by major world events, and in the aftermath of 9/11, a large number of books came out—nonfiction and fiction, for adults and children. In fact, I worked on three books connected to the tragedy. The first was a book of photographs of the World Trade Center by photographer Jay Maisel. Mr. Maisel had been photographing the twin towers from the time of their construction. It’s hard to express how striking the absence of such a dominating landmark is. The book was published late in 2001 (it was a rush to complete it as quickly as possible), and I found something reassuring in seeing all those photos that affirmed, yes, those towers really had been there.
For the rest of 2001 through June 2002, I worked on two additional books about 9/11 and the events that followed. It wasn’t easy spending my days surrounded by so many articles and photographs connected with the tragedy.
The 9/11 attacks and the subsequent U.S. involvement in Afghanistan affected school/library publishing as well as trade publishing. When I first came to Lerner in 2003, a revised edition Visual Geography Series had just launched, and Afghanistan in Pictures was in that launch group. (Just think what an unlikely selection that would have been a few years earlier.) Not long after that, I worked on Count Your Way through Afghanistan, which taught me how to count from one to ten in Pashto. We had a sense that readers at all grade levels needed to have information about this country, not least because their parents or their friends’ parents might be deployed there.
Although I know the threat of terrorist attacks didn’t die with bin Laden, I feel relieved that he won’t still be hiding somewhere out there when we mark the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks later this year. And don’t be surprised if there’s a new rush of books—nonfiction and fiction, for adults and children—related to the tenth anniversary and bin Laden’s death.