Death of a Nation: 9/11 and the Rise of Fascism in America, by George Grundy, presented itself as many a promising suitor does: polite introduction, a few endorsements, professional-looking—with a soft-touch dust jacket to boot. But as countless soul-mate seekers can attest (well, maybe not Meghan Markle), a façade so promising and shiny can rub off pretty easily. By the time I read the Introduction, I was already gravely concerned about the veracity and relevancy of the work. Rarely does a Foreword hold much weight, but when the likes of Dylan Avery, the grandfather of 9/11 Trutherism in the United States and beyond, pens a few thousand words to kick off what you think is going to be a thoughtful discussion of American politics and culture, well, it’s guaranteed that wackiness this way comes.

It’s axiomatic that governments lie and have secrets, but I don’t have much time for 9/11 Truthers. I have a few friends of friends and at least one family member (I give this person a pass due to a head injury) who believe in the so-called inside job details of September 11, 2001, and I know enough to refrain from attempting an intervention of reason. Truthers are unconvertable, which helps to control my urges to engage in debate and keeps me from stroking out as a result of reading or listening to their outsize level of commitment to nonsense. I won’t mince here: I don’t believe the US government hatched and completed a plot to destroy the World Trade Center and destroy our political system.

Death of a Nation has no source notes, and it proudly announces that its research is based on “open-source media”—meaning information that’s gathered from unvetted sources; sources that may not contain original reporting, but, hey, “by the people and for the people,” right? Think language that contains phrases such as “it has been said,” “it’s common knowledge that,” “one witness described the situation . . .” but does not have direct quotes from witnesses or public figures and doesn’t list sources, such as books, newspaper articles, or journal pieces—not even a TedTalk. Grundy’s prose is smooth, cocksure even, which makes the unsubstantiated claims all the more headache-inducing.

GoodReads reviewer “Elliott” perhaps boils Grundy’s work down best, Though I don’t agree with his alternative conspiracies regarding 9/11, even if I did I would still disagree that knowing the intricacies of the conspiracy would in any way offset what has already been done. If, tomorrow, we were given a hypothetical document detailing the placement of thermite charges within the World Trade Centers signed off by Dick Cheney, the powers that be would simply smirk and carry on.” Indeed, if we were to find out that Truthers are correct would they rise up and heal the masses? Would they even know what to do with the truth if it kissed them square on the mouth?

Death does have one point I can nod toward: the military-industrial complex has an insatiable appetite for war. Still, there’s just no credible evidence to support the conspiracy claims Grundy’s making here. Rather than giving oxygen to the assertions here, I instead invite readers to check out Popular Science’s studied refutation of 9/11 conspiracy theories either online (popularmechanics.com/military/a6384/debunking-911-myths-world-trade-center) or in book form (Debunking 9/11 Myths, latest edition, 2011).

But we’re supposed to be talking about the rise of fascism, right? What’s that got to do with 9/11? Not much, I say, but Grundy contends that the most devastating terror attack on US soil was designed by the US government and has lead us directly to where we are today: governed by a reality TV show barker who offers “supporters” a Cyber Monday deal on trucker hats made in China.

Want insight on how we arrived at this moment in history? You’ll do better by watching Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s The Vietnam War series, reading or listening to Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower, and digging in to just about everything Jane Mayer has written. These impeccable works illuminate one of the undeniable truths of our day: What the United States needs is more effective, informed, intelligent leadership by ethical people who love the United States and all of its citizens and want each of us to succeed. This nation is full up on crazy, Mr. Grundy.

About Author

A twenty-year publishing veteran, Terry Deal has written captions for Sports Illustrated’s Year in Pictures, crafted brochures for the College Board, helped create a number of custom magazines for Hearst, and has been a production editor at a prominent trade publisher for the past nine years. She pays for her haircuts and vacations by copyediting and proofreading novels and nonfiction books. Camera phones, iPods, and blogs are among the ideas she thought would never take off. She lives in Manhattan.

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