A short chapter, which provides a bit more insight into Jeannie’s character. It also offers a good opportunity to talk a little about the approach I chose in researching the facts behind the fiction in this story.
Throughout this book, it was important to me to avoid re-writing history, with the benefit of hindsight. Today, when years have passed without another major attack on American soil, it might be easy to forget the feeling that was nearly universal on that day; that this atrocity, as terrible as it was, could be only the beginning.
At around 4:00 pm on September 11, 2001, when this scene takes place, there were still very few hard details about what had happened. When Rob is asked if anyone had yet taken responsibility for the attacks, for example, he mentions several possibilities, but none of them are al-Qaeda. Osama bin Laden is on the list, but the term al-Qaeda was not at all in common usage before 9/11.*
We knew very little for certain, and rumors, half-truths, and outright falsehoods were flying; no one knew what to believe. But we really, really needed to believe in something. Just an hour or so after this chapter ends, members of the U.S. Congress, friend and foe, gathered together on the Capitol steps and sang God Bless America. There was no script or spin to this unplanned act; they did it, the cameras shot it, and we just watched. And days later, Gallup reported President George W. Bush’s job approval rating at 90%.
I didn’t want to forget any of that, and I wanted the book to reflect the time, not a distant remembrance of it. What’s happened since 2001, what was later inflicted by leveraging our sincere need to believe, is the subject of the book I’m working on now.
*Even today, there are a number of authorities on international terrorism who question the very existence of a broad-based, tightly organized, radical Islamist network that has come to be called by this name.