Book Review: Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up To The Facts


by edited by David Dunbar and Brad Reagan

New York: Hearst Books, 2006. Pp. xiii, 170. Illus., append., biblio., index. $14.95. ISBN:1-58816-635-X

In the wake of the unprovoked terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, numerous myths and conspiracy theories have emerged.  Some of these are understandable misunderstandings ? often from the confusion of that day.  Others are as outlandish as any theory surrounding the assassination of JFK.

In this sense, the editors of Popular Mechanics went to work debunking the theories.  They do what reporters should be doing ? ask experts (and they list the names in Appendix A of the book), gather the facts, and then present them to the people.  In Debunking 9/11 Myths, the staff of this magazine has succeeded in creating a readable masterstroke.  (In the interests of full disclosure, the reviewer is a subscriber to Popular Mechanics.)

The book starts by looking at the nineteen hijackers themselves, going through the various claims.  For instance, in discussing the necessary skills, the writers for the magazine have explained just how shockingly easy the actual mechanics of the attack were.  The lack of an intercept was also explained ? and the detail the Popular Mechanics staff went into is shown in the discussion of the intercept of Payne Stewart?s ill-fated final flight.  The book also covers the more popular myths about the World Trade Center, among other things, explaining why the B-25 collision with the Empire State Building didn?t bring that building down.  In retrospect, some of these myths are easily demolished.  The ?B-25 myth is shot down with just one look as the specifications of the B-25 (weighing 19,200 pounds and with a top speed of 280 miles per hour) compared to a Boeing 767-200ER (which weighs 395,000 pounds and has a top speed of 540 miles per hour).  The 767-200ER airliner is twenty times the weight of the B-25, and nearly twice as fast.  The change in kinetic energy alone is immense ? and then one has to take into account the fact that the B-25 probably only carried eight percent of the fuel in the 767s that hit the World Trade Center.  Myths about the Pentagon and Flight 93 are also dealt with, quickly, with facts, and ruthlessly.

The writers of Debunking 9/11 Myths also take aim at some of the theorists themselves.  It is noted that none of the college professors or academics who have espoused these theories have any expertise in engineering, construction, or related experience.  Recently, one such conspiracy theorist was hired by a college in Wisconsin, to teach a course on Islam.  His degree is in literature, concentrating on African studies.

This book is a must-read for anyone who wants the facts behind what happened on September 11, 2001 in an easy-to-read format.  This book will provide the information that should send 9/11 conspiracy theories to the same level of non-credibility that is afforded to Holocaust deniers and conspiracy theories around the attack on Pearl Harbor.  In this, Popular Mechanics has done some classic reporting at a level that is meritorious, and this book reflects great credit upon that magazine.
Reviewer: Harold C. Hutchison   

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