Bookworm: Rare photos, stories from the day that everything changed forever

You won’t want to keep ‘The Curse of the Mummy’ under wraps

Terri Schlichenmeyer
Columnist
Books about September 11 from various authors.

Books about September 11

  • From various authors
  • c. 2021, various publishers
  • $10.99-$35, various page counts

You remember exactly where you were. You were in your office, at home doing breakfast dishes, just getting out of bed and at first, you didn’t believe what you were seeing. It was not April Fool’s Day, it was Sept. 11, 2001, and these books commemorate the anniversary of that day.

Though the images you saw that morning are probably seared in your mind, you’ll still want to spend time reading “September 11: The 9/11 Story, Aftermath and Legacy” by journalists of the Associated Press (Sterling Publishing, $35). Packed with photos that are rarely seen, taken by professional photographers that fall morning, this book also includes a moment-by-moment timeline and hundreds of recollections from the men and women whose job it was to chronicle what happened. But this book takes things further: you’ll read here about the weeks after Sept. 11, 2001, and how everything changed forever.

Also, with a timeline – this one wider and longer – is “On That Day: The Definitive Timeline of 9/11” by William M. Arkin (Public Affairs, $18.99). This book takes readers much deeper behind the scenes, in the White House, near the Pentagon, and in the air above, and it’s not necessarily good news. Unique about this book is that readers don’t usually see such in-depth, government-based reporting on Sept. 11 and the days afterward.

Another little-known story can be learned in “The Lives They Saved” by L. Douglas Keeney (Lyons Press, $26.95). Here, you’ll read about the kind of heroism that you might have missed: on the day of the attack on the Twin Towers, people who lived and worked in Manhattan needed to evacuate from the area, fast. But how do you get large numbers of people out when many escape routes were blocked? The question is answered in documents and interviews that have been declassified: boat owners, medics, and others who knew the waters around Manhattan came together to shuttle some 300,000 people off the island and to safety. It became the largest boat-lift in history, larger than any other boat-lift in any war, and it happened in one single day. It’s a powerful story, perfect for understanding this seminal event.

And finally, there are two generations that won’t remember 9/11, either because they were babies then or because they weren’t even yet born. For them, there’s “I Survived The Attacks of September 11, 2001: The Graphic Novel” by Lauren Tarshis, art by Corey Egbert (Scholastic, $10.99). This is the fictional story of a young boy who struggles with a decision his parents made that he doesn’t agree with. He needs to talk things over with his beloved uncle, who works at a firehouse in Manhattan but shortly after he arrived, something happened that was unimaginable. Meant for kids ages 7-and-up, this book will be a quick read for any young adult who likes graphic novels.

If you’d like more information, you’ll find plenty of information on Sept. 11, 2001 at your local bookstore or library. In the meantime, these great books will help you remember.

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“The Curse of the Mummy: Uncovering Tutankhamun’s Tomb”

  • By Candace Fleming
  • c. 2021, Scholastic
  • $18.99, $25.99 Canada; 287 pages

It’s very dark underground. Without a flashlight, you can’t see a thing – but that’s okay; you might not really want to see what’s there anyhow. The silence is loud; it’s cold and probably wet there, too, so you’ll want a jacket if you go subterranean. As in the new book “The Curse of the Mummy: Uncovering Tutankhamun’s Tomb” by Candace Fleming, bundle up tight.

“The Curse of the Mummy: Uncovering Tutankhamun’s Tomb” by Candace Fleming.

Some thirty-three hundred years ago, in a quiet Egyptian desert valley, a king was sent off to a dazzling afterlife. Only a trusted few were supposed to know where Tutankhamun was buried, but history shows that someone spilled the secret: in years to come, thieves broke into the tomb and stole some of the riches that went underground with the Boy King.

Royal priests tried to keep looters away, with little success – until the year that “something unusual happened”: heavy rains caused the valley to flood, and Tutankhamun’s tomb seemingly “vanished.”

But it wasn’t forgotten entirely. Over centuries, as the tombs of other Egyptian royalty were looted by raiders and soldiers from other countries, Tutankhamun’s name was mentioned but he was never found. He lay in peace until the early 1900s.

George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, Fifth Earl of Carnarvon had scads of money and a great interest in Egyptian antiquities. He was happy to pay workmen to dig in Egypt’s sand, but sadly, nothing more than trinkets was ever found. By 1908, Carnarvon knew that an expert was needed, and Howard Carter came highly recommended.

“The Curse of the Mummy: Uncovering Tutankhamun’s Tomb” author Candace Fleming.

And for good reason: Carter was a man obsessed. He was sure he knew where Tutankhamun and his riches were, and he and Carnarvon waited patiently to go there, to retrieve what would be an incredible trove.

And yet ... there were rumors. Some said Tutankhamun’s tomb was cursed. Psychics said that the dead had spoken, and the treasure must remain undisturbed. Horrible things would happen to anyone who entered the tomb.

Did the curse begin with Carnarvon himself? Many – including most scientists – say no, that people involved in the discovery and opening of Tutankhamun’s tomb died of unrelated causes. Although, inside “The Curse of the Mummy,” author Candace Fleming sure does raise the hairs on the back of a kid’s neck.

It’s an exciting tale for any age, really – and as if the story of the ancient burial of the king isn’t mysterious enough, Fleming adds to the edginess with the thrilling (yet frustrating!) discovery of the tomb and all its chambers. Young archaeologists especially will be riveted by it, and by the scientifically-presented, kid-friendly follow-up on what happened to Tutankhamun’s body in the last century.

But the real appeal of this book? It’s right there in the title and Fleming doesn’t disappoint. Drop-in pages with whispers of curses will keep kids enthralled, and they may send young readers ages 8-to-12 on the hunt for more. If your child has seen the exhibit, aims to be an archaeologist, or loves good scares, “The Curse of the Mummy” is a book they won’t want to keep under wraps.

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The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terri lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books. Read past columns at marconews.com.