The tragedy Sept. 11, 2001, prompted questions about America's place in the world, and a proliferation of books resulted. Here is a recommended reading list for those seeking enriched understanding.
•"The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States" (2004): This bipartisan report, written with lucidity and forcefulness, is not only a compelling look at intelligence failures and al-Qaida's strategy, but also a work of enduring literary significance and accomplishment.
•"The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11" by Lawrence Wright (2007): Wright, a New Yorker writer who has won a Pulitzer Prize, explains the growth of Islamic fundamentalism and the characters involved in its rise since the 1940s.
•"Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001" by Steve Coll (2004): In this Pulitzer-Prize-winning book, Coll explains the complex relationship of American intelligence leaders to the Taliban and al-Qaida, all of which is informed by his insights into the politics of America, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and, of course, Afghanistan.
•"The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century" by Steve Coll (2008): From one of my favorite New Yorker writers, another lucidly written and reported book elevating understanding of the Middle East and the sprawling, wealthy family that exerts influence around the globe.
•"Watching the World Change: The Stories Behind the Images of 9/11" by David Friend (2006): In this lucid analysis of the 9/11 photographic record, Friend compels us to understand how visual images have affected our understanding of events and how history will be rendered.
•"The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches From the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam" by Eliza Griswold (2010): This look at the band around the globe where more than half the world's 1.3 billion Muslims and more than 60 percent of its 2 billion Christians reside, explores how secular triggers — conflicts over land, oil, food, water — led to religious disputes.
•"Night Draws Near: Iraq's People in the Shadow of America's War" by Anthony Shadid (2005), and "The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq" by George Packer (2005): Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Shadid's fluency in Arabic allows him to understand the hardships of ordinary life in Iraq. New Yorker writer Packer focuses on how American foreign policy led to a Middle East quagmire, despite intentions.
•"The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals" by Jane Mayer (2008): An investigation of presidential power and the legal battles over anti-terrorism policies that brings together conflicts over the Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisons, and raises questions about America's place as a moral leader in the world.
•"The Submission" by Amy Waldman (2011): Of the many novels concerned with the 9/11 experience, this one about the selection of a memorial designed to commemorate a terrorist attack is full of fascinating characters grappling, separately and collectively, to understand tragedy.
•"Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion across the Islamic World" by Robin Wright (2011): Finally, a look to the future, from a foreign correspondent who has witnessed the rebellion of the post-9/11 Middle East and the danger of extremism in all its forms.
9/11: A Decade Later