“How tall is too tall, how safe is safe enough? Before September 11, Americans thought little about such questions. And then the most extraordinary buildings in New York City burned and collapsed in front of a worldwide audience.” So begins Scott Gabriel Knowles’ recent online essay, “The Code War.”
While the 9/11 attacks put a glaring spotlight on international tensions, the collapse of the World Trade Center towers also raised troubling questions about the safety of tall buildings. The study of disasters, both natural and man-made, has a long history, as Knowles details in a new book, The Disaster Experts: Mastering Risk in Modern America. In “The Code War,” Knowles, who teaches at Drexel University (after completing his MA in the UT History Department in 1996 and his PhD at Johns Hopkins University), examines the ambiguous legacy of the investigations of the Twin Towers’ collapse.