The Unfinished Bombing

The Unfinished Bombing : Oklahoma City in American Memory

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On April 19, 1995 the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City shook the nation, destroying our complacent sense of safety and sending a community into a tailspin of shock, grief, and bewilderment. Almost as difficult as the bombing itself has been the aftermath, its legacy for Oklahoma City and for the nation, and the struggle to recover from this unprecedented attack. In The Unfinished Bombing, Edward T. Linenthal explores the many ways Oklahomans and other Americans have tried to grapple with this catastrophe. Working with exclusive access to materials gathered by the Oklahoma City National Memorial Archive and drawing from over 150 personal interviews with family members of those murdered, survivors, rescuers, and many others, Linenthal looks at how the bombing threatened cherished ideas about American innocence, sparked national debate on how to respond to terrorism at home and abroad, and engendered a new "bereaved community" in Oklahoma City itself. Linenthal examines how different stories about the bombing were told through positive narratives of civic renewal and of religious redemption and more negative narratives of toxicity and trauma.
He writes about the extraordinary bonds of affection that were created in the wake of the bombing, acts of kindness, empathy, and compassion that existed alongside the toxic legacy of the event. The Unfinished Bombing offers a compelling look at both the individual and the larger cultural consequences of one of the most searing events in recent American history. "Written before Sept. 11, yet there's no mistaking the lessons for New York in Oklahoma City's journey of public discourse and private healing."-New York Daily News.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 160.02 x 233.68 x 22.86mm | 476.27g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 69 b/w halftones & line illus
  • 0195161076
  • 9780195161076
  • 2,093,941

Review quote

"Edward Linenthal is a sensitive interviewer, a keen researcher, and a wonderful writer. In this richly-layered book, he unveils how Oklahomans, and Americans generally, have made competing histories and memories out of a horrifying act of domestic terrorism. This book is a disturbing and moving story of heroism and exploitation, of the nature of grief and the language of memorialization, of the entangled human impulses to remember and forget. It is at once a
heartbreaking and brilliant analysis of the character of public memory in America in the media age."-David W. Blight, author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory "A powerful and moving book. Edward T. Linenthal, a wonderfully gifted cultural historian, brings to the story of the Oklahoma City bombing and its aftermath a combination of critical intelligence, indefatigable research, and deep human empathy. Not only a profound reflection on an event that changed America, this study of how the survivors, the city, and the nation coped with a staggering crisis tells us much about who we are as a people."-Paul Boyer, Editor in
Chief, The Oxford Companion to United States History "An authoritative but emotionally wrenching account of how a new national monument was created. Linenthal raises troubling questions about what our culture chooses to memorialize in the 21st century-and why."-Karal Ann Marling, Department of Art History, University of Minnesota "Demonstrating how to combine respect for suffering with searching analysis, Edward Linenthal examines the responses of bereaved family members, survivors, and community leaders in Oklahoma City. Making an honest reckoning with the features of tragedy that push human understanding to-and past-its limits, The Unfinished Bombing provides an unforgettable case study in the strategies human beings create to manage the memory of searing loss. This book
deepens the way we think about the misfortunes of the 1995 bombing, as well as the customs and habits of mind of Americans dealing with violence and mortality."-Patricia Nelson Limerick, author of The Legacy of Conquest and Something in the Soil "An extraordinarily intimate and moving account of the multiplicity of responses to a searing act of violence, The Unfinished Bombing confirms Edward Linenthal's status as one of America's most eloquent and incisive chroniclers of violence, death, memorialization, and contested memory."-John Dower, author of Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War Two, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award "Linenthal's book is an extraordinary account of the Oklahoma City bombing-more specifically of that community's and the wider culture's attempts to make sense of what happened... Now the value of Linenthal's book lies not so much in what it tells us about Oklahoma City but what it tells us about the future. It's an eerie glimpse into the long, long process of moving on."-Atlanta Journal-Constitution "Reading The Unfinished Bombing it's striking just how many parallels there are in the reactions to these attacks and the similarities in their ripple effects."-Charles Taylor, "[Linenthal] brings tremendous sensitivity to his examination of the psychic consequences of the bombing.... No book concerning the bombing has so comprehensively addressed the national psyche. This combination of psychological insight and cultural criticism, along with the hopeful assessment of a still-fresh tragedy, will attract a wide audience."-Publisher's Weekly "Linenthal movingly relates the tortuous process of body identification, family notification, grief counseling, and burial ceremonies and then offers a painstakingly detailed account of the memorialization process and its culmination in the choice of a memorial design.... A revealing, empathetic analysis that fairly examines this tragic act of terror, the worst on U.S. soil until this September."-Library Journal "A poignant new look at the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building.... Linenthal's book is much more than just another account of the disaster, especially to Oklahomans who lived through the continuous media coverage.... He examines with the precision of a surgeon the different ways the Oklahoma City bombing has been interpreted.... This book is great and timely reading, in light of the Sept. 11 attacks."-Bob Burke, The Daily Oklahoman "Written before Sept. 11, yet there's no mistaking the lessons for New York in Oklahoma City's journey of public discourse and private healing."-New York Daily News Readers still reeling from thousands of deaths in New York City, Washington, and Pennsylvania have much to learn from Linenthal's patient account of the aftermath of another recent national trauma."-Steven G. Kellman, USA Today "A priceless microcosm of hindsight in advance. Many books about the recent attacks have been published, but none of them can achieve what Linenthal offers: a carefully researched and thought-out study of a culture of aftermath. The value of this book is simple: It has the benefit of the passage of time."-Newsday
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About Edward Tabor Linenthal

Edward T. Linenthal is Edward M. Penson Professor of Religion and American Culture at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. He is the author of Sacred Ground: Americans and Their Battlefields and Preserving Memory: The Struggle to Create America's Holocaust Museum, and co-editor of History Wars: The Enola Gay and Other Battles to Preserve America's Past.
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Rating details

41 ratings
4.19 out of 5 stars
5 39% (16)
4 41% (17)
3 20% (8)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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