Columbia University’s Oral History Research Office, headed by Mary Marshall Clark, went to work immediately after September 11, 2001, and has now issued a selection from its hundreds of interviews with those most directly involved—first responders, victims’ families, residents of lower Manhattan. But they record more than the immediate impact; the interviewers followed up for years afterward. The interviews make clear the distance between those who will go on distressfully reliving their experience forever and those of us who were merely bystanders.


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James Boylan is CJR’s founding editor.