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In the Shadow of No Towers

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  2,547 ratings  ·  197 reviews
Catastrophic, world-altering events like the September 11 attacks on the United States place the millions of us who experience them on the "fault line where World History and Personal History collide." Most of us, however, cannot document that intersection with the force, compression, and poignancy expressed in Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers. As in his Pulitze ...more
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published 2004 by Viking
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Watchmen by Alan MooreThe Complete Maus by Art SpiegelmanV for Vendetta by Alan MooreThe Sandman, Vol. 1 by Neil GaimanThe Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
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208th out of 2,107 books — 4,858 voters
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9/11 Related
12th out of 120 books — 149 voters

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Community Reviews

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Pramod Nair
Art Spiegelman & his family witnessed the attack on the World Trade Center Twin Towers at close range from their lower Manhattan neighborhood and his panic, rage, fear, mourning and his overall emotional state just after the 9/11 attacks can be perceived from the following extract taken from the introduction of the book:

I tend to be easily unhinged. Minor mishaps–a clogged drain, running late for an appointment–send me into a sky-is-falling tizzy. It’s a trait that can leave one ill-equippe
I have read several reviews on here that mock Art Spiegelman as "The King" or call his book pretentious or get angry over the fact that it's short or too large in size. But let's get one thing straight here: Art Spiegelman is, without a doubt, just as important as he thinks he is. And this book is further evidence of that.

Other complaints have centered on his strong political beliefs: but, let's face it, he is right. That tragedy WAS highjacked by the right, and the American public was hoodwinke
Jen Hirt
Halfway through this book, Spiegelman, who lives in Manhattan and had to run through the streets on September 11 to get his daughter out of school, writes that the only way he could get the image of burning skyscrapers out of his head was to browse old comic strips: "That they were made with so much skill and verve but never intended to last past the day they appeared in the newspaper gave them poignancy; they were just right for an end of the world moment." And with that, he created 10 graphic ...more
Let's terrorize the terrorists!

Yes, I did that. I started off a review about 9/11 with a Family Guy quote. You all saw it. Take my goodreaders badge away.

Too late? When did the satire on 9/11 begin? Is it still acceptable? Let's ask the hipsters.


Yes, I laughed at the Family Guy episode. GW refounding the confederacy and starting a 2nd Civil War that resulted in 17 million dead including Cesar Millan.. it puts a nice spin on the 'what happened if 9/11 was thwarted'idea.

I guess I'm jus
Like other reviewers I wanted to like this, but ended up feeling as though it was a bit unfinished. Excellent bits, but I'm not sure they work as a coherent whole. Then again, I don't believe an artistic response to 9/11 is required to be coherent.
Art Spiegelman uses his considerable talent to illustrate the fear and confusion of September 11, 2001 -- and of the months following, when he (like many other Americans) felt the Bush administration had hijacked the tragedy. The second half showcases the weird and political world of early full-page newspaper comics, his model for his own works in this book. An excellent, important book that moved me to tears.
Thomas Slyne
The comic "The Shadow of No Towers" takes an artistic response to the events that took place September 11th. The author 'Art Spiegelman' lived in NYC at the time and actually got to witness the events unfold first hand. One thing that you may notice as you pick up this graphic novel is that it is MASSIVE. The actual pages are thick boards, and you read them in a top/down fashion. There isn't really a story to this graphic novel, its composed of individual unique comics ranging in size. Some of t ...more
Only His High Holiness Art Shpeegleman could get away with something like this: he goes for years without publishing a whit of comics, drums up all sorts of hype and excitement, and then leaves us with what? Why, a board book! A fancily-printed pamphlet of newspaper pages, 38 cardstock pages total (including the frontispiece, introduction and everything), only 20 pages of which contain his actual original creations. Of course, those 20 pages are all newspaper-style double-page fold-out spreads, ...more
i don't think i could have read this when it first came out, even if it was three years after 9/11. there is something about Art Spiegelman's work that is profoundly affecting, in ways that i can relate to.

he lives in lower manhattan, and witnessed the attacks first hand. his black-on-black work ran as the cover of the new yorker days after the attacks. he talks about his struggle to understand the crisis, to understand and have faith in his country - especially when the decision to go to war
This is Art Spiegelman, so I guess I should not be as surprised as I am that IN THE SHADOW OF NO TOWERS is replete with paranoid ravings—even by the justified standards of lived-to-tell-the-tale New Yorkers. In part, I suspect these ravings are intentional, a way of exhibiting the unraveling trust we place in our surroundings and our government’s ability (or desire) to protect us from harm. But still, I was a little put off.

On another note, comic fans will get a huge kick out of Spiegelman’s inc
I'm not sure how to rate this really. The title as a metaphor for NYC after 9/11 is 5 stars for sure.

A series of broadside meditations--political, mental, and social commentary--on Spiegelman's experience in lower Manhattan on 9/11 and how its afterimage engulfed his spirit--is followed by a history of the beginnings of newspaper comics in the United States (with illustrated examples). The dislocation I felt between the two sections mirrored the author's state as he related it in his broadsides
It didn't have the things that I look for in stories or graphic novels. It lacks narrative development, character development, and any kind of arc. It's mostly a reaction (or collection of one man's reactions) to 9/11 and the government's response to it. It doesn't connect any of the dots for you in terms of what the government's reaction was or Spiegelman's own politics - you have to know or intuit these things on your own. As a book that's intended as a reaction to a traumatic event, I guess t ...more
I really didn't mind Spiegelman's paranoid ramblings that so many readers were annoyed or disappointed by. I don't think that the size of the book was effective in any respect, but I enjoyed the variety of comix styles used. The illustration on p.4 of a bald eagle getting its throat cut and asking "why do they hate us? why???" was probably the most effective image in the entire book (with W riding his back). The overall feel is a totally chaotic mess streaming from Spiegelman, but I think that t ...more
This is a hard book to rate and review. I chose to read this book for my American Autobiographical Graphic Novels class because it deals with the trama experienced by Spiegelman during and after 9/11. It is a short read, but a powerful one. The story has multiple narratives going on at once and consists of a mixture between Spiegelman's own style and the style of old newspaper comics. The way that Spiegelman narrates his 9/11 experiences and trauma is blunt and raw and brought me back to my own ...more
This book was too disjointed and chaotic to really enjoy. It's more a bunch of snippets bound together than it is a story.
However, perhaps that's the point? NYC after Sept. 11th must have been chaotic, unsure, paranoid, surreal. There must have been no flow to one's reality or new expectations of what's going on. In that case, this is an exceptional book. It follows completely along these lines.
The graphics are terrific. I especially liked the use of upside down strips: part of a strip is right
A for effort, B- for execution. By no means a coherent piece of work, Spiegleman's personal take on 9/11 still stings some years later if a bit heavy handedly. That being said, could any piece of work tackle this subject in the comic medium without being so overt? I don't have the answer but i do know that something about "No Towers" seems cringe worthy if not just a tad slight. The introduction and explanation of works that inspired these strips help to understand what it is that Spiegleman was ...more
Morgan Yew
After visiting the Co-Mix Spiegelman Retrospective at Toronto's AGO, I hunted through used shops to see what I could find. I've read fragments of Spiegelman's work in collections, but this was all I could find, so it became my first full-Spiegelman purchase, but it's never just Spiegelman, is it? Pages are lined and coloured with the stories of his youth - our cultural youth, and the present is padded with extra context. The work is a jumble of paranoia and widely diverging styles, lacking harmo ...more
Art Spiegelman is a worthy link in the chain of self-examining, socially concerned, cartoonists that includes R. Crumb and Jules Feiffer. Having said that, In the Shadow of No Towers (the aftermath of 9/11) is a special case.

Three word review: Triumphant Paranoid Screed

Having escaped "ground zero" just in time, but having to live in its neighborhood during the aftermath gives Spiegelman a relevant perspective that those of us, at a distance, could benefit by reading. He uses all his cartoonist
Paul Schulzetenberg
Spiegelman is a talented artist and writer, but this is not a very good work. It's aged poorly in the years after September 11th, and his conspiracy theory views distract from what could be a very compelling book. There are moments of emotional vigor, but mostly it comes across paranoid and detached.

What really rubbed me the wrong way is Spiegelman's insistence that the World Trade Center attacks were somehow not a big deal to those people outside of New York. This is incredibly ludicrous. Not
Elizabeth A
I loved Spiegelman's Maus graphic novels, so thought I'd give this one a try.

Book blurb: In the Shadow of No Towers is a highly personalized, political, and confessional diary of his experience of September 11 and its aftermath. In 10 large-scale pages of original, hard hitting material (composed from September 11, 2001 to August 31, 2003), two essays, and 10 old comic strip reproductions from the early 20th century, Spiegelman expresses his feelings of dislocation, grief, anxiety, and outrage o
Art Spiegelman's attempt to process the collapse of the Twin Towers from his close-up vantage point.

7th grade - adult. I've finally hit the future: my students no longer remember this event.
Jul 11, 2014 Laura added it
I normally like to give stars to the books I read because it helps me remember which ones I liked best and maybe helps other readers decide whether to read something. I find I can't give a star rating to this. It's not coherent, but who had a coherent response to 9/11?? It references turn-of-the-last-century comics that most people aren't familiar with, but those things are part of our cultural heritage. It would almost be more helpful to read the second half of this giant board book first. Then ...more
Claude Lalumière
A lazy, whiny, self-important, self-involved, and pretentious book. Art Spiegelman is the ultimate emperor wears no pants of the comics world.
Dave Riley
This snippet of Ist person journalism is absolutely brilliant. Spigelman has to coexist with the gods to be able to engineer this personal experience of 9/11 and merge it with some sharp and bitter commentary on George Bush's America.

The eclectic art work the free form commentary and storytelling -- the whole mix -- is beyond anything you'd have expected. Surely, like his Maus this is one of the great graphic novels.

Unlike standard comic journalism -- like Joe Sacco's approach -- the form of t
Really short, but really good. All over the place at some points but in a good way. Lots of political references, and even intertextual references to his other work (Maus). A lot of underlying meaning which I guess requires re-reads to be understood better - and that kind of a challenge is always welcomed in my opinion.
The look ( the SIZE ) of this graphic novel is unlike that of any I've ever seen before, and although it makes it impractical to carry around, it also does the impressive drawing
Maria Skyllas
J'ai d'abord été attirée par le format de ce livre (grand format avec des pages faites de carton épais). Si je me fie à plusieurs critiques, cette attirance ne semble pas être partagée par un bon nombre de lecteurs. Je peux facilement comprendre la déception de ceux qui ont acheté ce livre en ligne, surtout compte tenu du fait que les sites qui le vendent ne mentionnent pas tous l'aspect des pages cartonnées, et qu'il est assez dispendieux. Il peut être frustrant de payer une quarantaine de doll ...more
This is my first exposure to Spiegelman's work, and I didn't know anything about it before I started reading. (I had no idea until now that he designed The New Yorker 9/11 cover - or I heard but forgot.)

For me, this single book resulted in two different reading experiences. The first part of the book is Spiegelman's reaction to his experience of 9/11 (he was right there) in the form of a comic (graphic).

The second part of the book is an historical retrospective of comics born from Spiegelman's
Had to have my own copy. Summary: Catastrophic, world-altering events like the September 11 attacks on the United States place the millions of us who experience them on the "fault line where World History and Personal History collide." Most of us, however, cannot document that intersection with the force, compression, and poignancy expressed in Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers. As in his Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus, cartoonist Spiegelman presents a highly personalized, political, and ...more
I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to review this, and when I looked on Goodreads it turned out Ceridwen had already done it better than I ever could, which honestly was a huge relief because now I can just point you in that direction for something meaningful and well-presented and can focus my review on inane comments like, “Wow, this was certainly a bulky awkward book, wasn’t it?” (Although even then, an argument could probably be made by someone more thoughtful than myself that the sheer ...more
basically, this should not be a book. there's like, six pages of original graphic content, plus maybe four pages of original text, then six pages of reprinted vintage newspaper comics presented more or less without comment. the only reason it looks reasonably bookish is that it's printed on super-thick cardstock, like a two-year-old's book. plus I think the whole thing suffers a bit from historical distance -- I've already read six million other things saying most of the stuff Spiegelman has to ...more
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Art Spiegelman (born Itzhak Avraham ben Zeev) is New-York-based comics artist, editor, and advocate for the medium of comics, best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning comic memoir, Maus.
More about Art Spiegelman...
Maus, I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History (Maus, #1) Maus, II: And Here My Troubles Began (Maus, #2) The Complete Maus (Maus, #1-2) MetaMaus: A Look Inside a Modern Classic, Maus Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!

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