I abandon something in the range of 6 to 12 books in an average reading year but I seldom mention them by title or tell why I made the decision to toss them aside. Every so often, however, one of those books will irritate me so much that I decide to document exactly why I tossed it in the trash. My recent experience with Susan Faludi’s The Terror Dream is one of those cases.
The Terror Dream is Faludi’s attempt to make sense of America’s reaction to the 9-11 murders. Granted, she has her facts pretty much in order; the problem is how she twists those facts to the degree that her book becomes little more than an attempt to transform the attack on the United States to an attack on feminism. According to Faludi, America had a “nervous breakdown” of sorts after the attacks and reverted to a relationship between the sexes that confined women to the roll they played in 1950s America.
Yes, men were the ones cast almost exclusively in the roll of heroes. Yes, women were usually portrayed as victims needing the protection of men, including some portrayals of females in the military. Yes, most editorialists and other media commentators in the 9-11 aftermath were men, and women in those jobs were largely ignored or even ridiculed. People, male and female, alike seemed comforted by an image of America from a safer period, a time when men like John Wayne were national heroes. No argument from me on any of this – it did happen.
What I quickly grew bored with, and then irritated by, however, is Faludi’s rather selfish insistence upon making this huge national tragedy into some kind of personal insult to her and her feminism-dominated cohorts, as if nothing else matters and no good at all came from the country’s temporary retreat from feminism and what is its often shrill message. I got through about 30% of the book before Faludi’s constant whining and shrieking about Fox news, President Bush and his team, and conservative commentators and publications got on my nerves. To be fair to Faludi, she did point out that this message was not being communicated strictly by conservative outlets. However, the worst of her dripping sarcasm was most often directed at Bush and conservatives, especially as regards the whole Bush White House team.
When I looked ahead in the book and noticed that the remaining 70% was more of the same, I gave up. How anyone can read this repetitive nonsense for 368 pages is beyond me. How I made it through almost 120 pages of it is also beyond me now that I look back.
I recommend this book only to the most radical of feminists, to whom this will be a red meat message. Others should beware.