The Second Plane: September 11: Terror and Boredom by Martin Amis

No kowtowing to Islamic sensibilities and pieties here—Amis rips loose to examine and expound on one of the most historic and momentous events of this new century: 9/11. By way of fourteen articles and short stories (previously published), Amis takes you inside the heart of Islamic fundamentalism, and spares no one in his analysis of the West’s flummoxed response to it—especially not Messrs. Bush and Blair.

In one of the pieces that focuses on the plight of flight United 93, there is a surprising (and factual) revelation of an unlikely facet to the persona of Ziad Jarrah, the Saudi leader of the terrorist group on board that plane: his last cellphone call to his fiancée. His six words were: I love you. I love you.

And so, Amis says this: Love is an abstract noun, something nebulous. And yet love turns out to be the only part of us that is solid, as the world turns upside down and the screen goes black. We can’t tell if it will survive us. But we can be sure that it’s the last thing to go.

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