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Dear Ann,

It’s strange that 9/11 has passed into history. For those of us who were alive in 2001, that day is fresh in our minds. I don’t think I would ever have thought that I’d be able to watch a “based on a true story” piece of entertainment about it, even nearly 20 years later.

But The Looming Tower on Hulu has drawn me in. It’s based on Lawrence Wright’s book of the same name, and told from the perspective of Ali Soufan, an FBI agent who was investigating the men who would become the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks. He had an idea of what was coming, if nothing was done to stop it from coming. Soufan’s boss for a time was John O’Neill, a colorful character (one way to put it) who was frustrated by the lack of intelligence sharing between the CIA and the FBI.

Two episodes in, the tale has me hooked. I rate it as worth signing up for a free trial of Hulu, at the very least.

This is not a criticism, but I don’t remember the 1990s looking so much like the 1970s. One fun thing for me is that my former boss, U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, makes an appearance now and then. When you’re watching, just imagine me behind my desk at 100 Church Street, typing up a motion to dismiss and signing it—proudly, every time—under her name. Those were the days.




  • Ha, ha maybe to a 50-year-old (I’m guessing) producer, the ’70s were the ’90s. But such conflation is certainly puzzling. Your life seems to have gone from one exciting chapter to another, Kay. No more breathless New York signings but now there are breathtaking knitting patterns galore. And we are happy for that.

  • Chilling show, almost too much to bear. Was in NYC then. Will never forget.

  • I too retired from a high pressure, high paying job. I’m still reinventing, but we need people to stay home and knit. Right now my focus is on hats for kids, scarves for homeless and ear savers for my front line worker friends.

  • I think you are right; maybe enough time has passed. After days of grief and also anxiety about whether LA (my home then) would be targeted for something equally horrible, we took our daughter to LEGOland for her 4th birthday on Sept 14, 2001. Visitors had turned the diorama of the NYC skyline into a memorial with flowers, coins, and other tokens. I kept drifting back there throughout the day. Probably the only time that so many of us have been so moved by LEGO art! Thanks for the show tip.

  • I don’t know if it is because of living so close but I don’t think I could watch it even now. That said, I don’t have Hulu so I don’t have to decide.

  • Remember the day clearly. Must add I am often surprised how cavalier some of my younger co-workers are about 9/11. Almost like it was nothing and they are tired of hearing about it. Thank you for the recommendation. Been looking for something new.

  • Just read Wright’s new book, The End of October – which came out earlier this year, about a world wide pandemic and how it upended our entire society. Talk about being almost “too close for comfort”. But it’s a good read. And reminded me of how much worse things could get. He’s a great story teller.

  • the movie looks fascinating. Thanks for the tip

  • I recently watched a show filmed in the early nineties, which seems like last year to me. But I was shocked that the fashions, cars, etc. seemed old enough to be from the seventies! So I understand your reaction, Kay. Just had that experience.

  • Ditto the recommendation earlier in these comments for Lawrence Wright’s new book, The End of October. It may prompt you to add a few more staples to the pantry.

  • There’s a great documentary about John O’Neill on Frontline. It was made sometime after 9/11. Not sure how much of the Hulu series is about him specifically but the Frontline doc made the case he was one of the few sounding warning signs about a potential attack shortly before it happened.

    It is strange how 90s fashion/culture is represented today. I remember it as an extension of the 80s, at least at first, and later on some nostalgia for the 70s drifted into clothes, tv shows, etc.

  • I have it thought it too close to watch, as well. I trust your judgement, so I may check it out. Re. The 70’s/90’s – a friend who came of age in the late 70’s used to see kids in the 90’s dressed in the way she did and yell “Get your own decade!”

  • NYC in the 70s was not the same as NYC in the 90s. My office was on the 25th floor of Tower Two. No amount of time will erase or ease the memory of what we lost.

    • I’m so sorry that you had to experience what we were seeing on TV but I will never forget the horror of that day and those that followed

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