The Second Plane

The Second Plane : September 11, 2001-2007

3.43 (580 ratings by Goodreads)
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Martin Amis first wrote about September 11 a week later in a piece for "The Guardian" beginning, 'It was the advent of the second plane, sharking in low over the Statue of Liberty: that was the defining moment.' And he has kept returning to September 11, in essays and reviews, and in two remarkable short stories, 'In the Place of the End' and 'The Last Days of Muhammad Atta'. All are collected here, together with an expanded account of his travels with Tony Blair in 2007 - to Belfast, to Washington, and to Baghdad and Basra. 'We are arriving at an axiom in long-term thinking about international terrorism,' he writes: 'the real danger lies, not in what it inflicts, but in what it provokes. Thus by far the gravest consequence of September 11, to date, is Iraq ...Meanwhile, September 11 continues, it goes on, with all its mystery, its instability, and its terrible dynamism.'show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 224 pages
  • 136 x 198 x 28mm | 340.19g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • Jonathan Cape Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0224076108
  • 9780224076104
  • 639,202

Review quote

"[Amis is a] writer who is arguably the most gifted stylist of his generation, and who may be genetically incapable of a dull sentence . . . The Second Plane and the furor surrounding its inception represent the debate an open and confident society should be willing to sustain about such fundamental, if difficult, matters." -"Toronto Star""The Second Plane is an essential snapshot of a moment in time, of private reactions to a world in transition set against a collective anger and despair." -"Edmonton Journal" "Novelist Martin Amis's bent for punchy sentences and reason-as-the-only-fit-yardstick geopolitical analysis both surface early in this provocative collection of non-fiction essays, reviews and short stories. . . . Tough, and controversial, stances abound in The Second Plane. . . . Amis's command of language is a joy to read." -"Winnipeg Free Press ""The great value of this book is that it does not permit us the armchair luxury of relativizing or compartmentalizing the War on Terror. By shifting the stage from the local to the global and raising the bar from the actual to the potential, Amis holds both sides to the same standards." -"The Gazette" "Amis is a highly intuitive writer. . . . The views Amis presents are worth reading for their wit, their vibrant phrasing, their ring of conviction." -"National Post" "[V]erbal thrill . . .[Amis's] writing remains capable of anything" -"The Observer""What Amis [has] really done, as the chronologically ordered pieces in this collection demonstrate, was to go on a political journey. . . . [P]ossibly the most fully engaged writer of our age." -"The Times""Amis is famously audacious, sardonic, andexcoriating. But in this bracing and corrective collection of intense and perceptive responses to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 . . . Amis is doing far more than performing literary pyrotechnics or playing provocateur. . . . [He] writes with vehemence, daring, and verve because he schools himself in harsh truths, and because he cares." -"Booklist" "From the Hardcover edition."show more

Review Text

Fourteen essays on the theme that "our understanding of September 11 is incremental and can never hope to be intact and entire."Islamism (Islamic fascism to some, Islamofascism to others), notes the ever-provocative British novelist and essayist Amis (House of Meetings, 2007, etc.), may be associated with Saudi Arabia, but it had its modern origins in Greeley, Colo., in 1949. "The story is grotesque and incredible," he writes, "but then so are its consequences." One of those curious consequences, familiar to anyone who has experienced war, terror or extreme stress, is boredom, for in such endeavors when one is not scared witless there is by definition not much going on. The war against Islamist terror has, Amis hazards, an especially boring additional component, our presumed inability to begin to communicate with "a mind with which we share no discourse." Amis's alignment as a self-described "Islamismophobe" puts him in a similar orbit with sometime friend and sometime rival Christopher Hitchens, save that, unlike Hitchens, Amis does not support the war in Iraq, as one of the pieces, an in-flight interview with Tony Blair, makes clear. (But then, that interview hints, Blair didn't much like the war either.) Amis is rather less blustery than Hitchens; one piece is a surprisingly empathetic attempt to get inside 9/11 hijacker Muhammad Atta's mind. As always, Amis proves eminently readable, his observations enlightening. Who other would ascribe to Kuwait City an "almost artistic cheerlessness" that speaks to the deadening touch of women-hating fundamentalism "under a sinister mist of damp dust"? Amis may not make any friends among the PC set, but he makes clear and inarguable the fact that the Islamist enemy is an enemy of reason, just like Hitler and Stalin."The only thing Islamism can dominate, for now, is the evening news," Amis concludes in good fighting spirit. His book fires a welcome, left-tending salvo. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

About Martin Amis

Martin Amis is the author of ten novels, two collections of stories and six collections of non-fiction. He lives in more

Rating details

580 ratings
3.43 out of 5 stars
5 15% (88)
4 33% (192)
3 35% (203)
2 13% (77)
1 3% (20)
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