In the Shadow of No Towers share button
Art Spiegelman
Format Hardcover
Dimensions 10.30 (w) x 14.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)
Pages 42
Publisher Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication Date September 2004
ISBN 9780375423079
Book ISBN 10 0375423079
About Book

For Art Spiegelman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Maus, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were both highly personal and intensely political. In the Shadow of No Towers, his first new book of comics since the groundbreaking Maus, is a masterful and moving account of the events and aftermath of that tragic day.

Spiegelman and his family bore witness to the attacks in their lower Manhattan neighborhood: his teenage daughter had started school directly below the towers days earlier, and they had lived in the area for years. But the horrors they survived that morning were only the beginning for Spiegelman, as his anguish was quickly displaced by fury at the U.S. government, which shamelessly co-opted the events for its own preconceived agenda.

He responded in the way he knows best. In an oversized, two-page-spread format that echoes the scale of the earliest newspaper comics (which Spiegelman says brought him solace after the attacks), he relates his experience of the national tragedy in drawings and text that convey—with his singular artistry and his characteristic provocation, outrage, and wit—the unfathomable enormity of the event itself, the obvious and insidious effects it had on his life, and the extraordinary, often hidden changes that have been enacted in the name of post-9/11 national security and that have begun to undermine the very foundation of American democracy.


From Barnes & Noble

In 1992, Maus, Art Spiegelman's graphic novel about a mouse's experience in Nazi-occupied Europe, captured the world's imagination. By presenting the Holocaust through the eyes of a lowly viewer, Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning work infused historical events with human immediacy. Now, in his first new book of comics since Maus, this longtime New York City resident gives a deeply personal, politically charged account of the tragic events and ghastly aftermath of September 11, 2001. "I hadn't anticipated," he writes in the introduction, "that the hijackings of September 11th would themselves be hijacked by the Bush cabal that reduced it all to a war recruitment poster."

Christopher Theokas

No Towers is provocative and partisan. But it's also very personal. Spiegelman offers his fears, his horror and his anger for everyone to see.
USA Today

David Hajdu

In the Shadow of No Towers looks like a repudiation of the undergrounds and their progeny, a rejection of their now generic graphic crudity in favor of an approach that is simultaneously contemporary and antique. Spiegelman employs an unexpected variety of drawing styles and graphic techniques -- his familiar scrawls; painterly images in soft, pastelish shades; computer scans, sometimes digitized for interpretive effect; and appropriations of long-forgotten newspaper comic-strip characters. Five or six story segments or graphic elements in different styles -- one running vertically, one in a large circle, one broken up into images laid out like snapshots on the floor -- all play off one another in an effect that suggests the scattershot multiformity of the Web.
The New York Times Sunday Book Review

Michiko Kakutani

It is a testament to Art Spiegelman's uncompromising vision that In the Shadow of No Towers - his account of 9/11 and its aftermath - makes no effort to contain or domesticate the surreal awfulness of that day.
— The New York Times

Publishers Weekly

Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Spiegelman's new work is an inventive and vividly graphic work of nonfiction. It's an artful rant focused on the events of 9/11 and afterward by a world-class pessimist ("after all, disaster is my muse"). The artist, who lives in downtown Manhattan, believes the world really ended on Sept. 11, 2001 it's merely a technicality that some people continue to go about their daily lives. He provides a hair-raising and wry account of his family's frantic efforts to locate one another on September 11 as well as a morbidly funny survey of his trademark sense of existential doom. "I'm not even sure I'll live long enough," says a chain-smoking, post-9/11 cartoon-mouse Spiegelman, "for cigarettes to kill me." The book is a visceral tirade against the Bush administration ("brigands suffering from war fever") and, when least expected, an erudite meditation on the history of the American newspaper comic strip, born during the fierce circulation wars of the 1890s right near the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan. This beautifully designed, oversized book (each page is heavy board stock) opens vertically to offer large, colorful pages with Spiegelman's contemporary lamentations along with wonderful reproductions of 19th-century broadsheet comic strips like Richard Outcault's Hogan's Alley and Rudolf Dirk's Katzenjammer Kids. Old comics, Spiegelman (Maus) writes, saved his sanity. "Unpretentious ephemera from the optimistic dawn of the 20th century... they were just right for an end-of-the world moment." This is a powerful and quirky work of visual storytelling by a master comics artist. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.


In a manner that is both accessible and cogent, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Spiegelman presents his very personal observation of and response to the obliteration of the World Trade Center. Living as he does in lower Manhattan and having children who went to school on the morning of September 11, his experiences of the day's events are relatively at ground zero. By distilling what he saw, felt, thought, and did both in the immediacy of the event and in the weeks following as the event became a political football, he gives readers the opportunity to meet both the physical situation and the cultural ramifications in a kind of aesthetic nakedness that is clarifying and revealing. The physicality of this book is itself studied: A folio printed entirely on board, its narrative is told in full-page spreads that borrow from old comics pages as well as include reportorial panels depicting the WTC's evaporation. The narrative portrays Spiegelman's role as parent, his teenaged daughter's response to the patriotic fervor at her newly assigned school, and his wife's efforts to get a New Yorker cover wrested from him in her role as that magazine's art editor. Despite the text's brevity and the enormity of each spread, it is easy to read this book repeatedly and find new story strands, new realizations of what the event continues to mean, and how history changes even while it is being lived. Processing and shelving this book in libraries should be done respectfully; it is sure to be a lasting icon in American studies. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S A/YA G (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended for Young Adults; Graphic Novel Format). 2004, Pantheon, 42p., Ages 12 to Adult.
—Francisca Goldsmith

Library Journal

In his first new graphic novel since Maus, Spiegelman uses his unique artistry to capture the tragedy of 9/11 and what he considers its shameful misappropriation by the U.S. government. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.