Judging a Book’s Cover

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Joseph Sullivan at the Book Design Review has named the cover of the paperback edition of Susan Faludi’s The Terror Dream:  Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America as one of his “favorite book covers of 2008.”  I’m pretty sure he means “favorite” in the design sense: the book has a “dramatic, epic cover,” he says (here).

Here‘s a description of the book, from Faludi’s own website:

Why, [Faludi] asks, did an assault on American global dominance provoke an almost hysterical summons to restore “traditional” manhood, marriage, and maternity? * * *  The answer, Faludi finds, lies in a historical anomaly unique to the American experience: the nation that in recent memory has been least vulnerable to domestic attack is also a nation haunted by a centuries-long trauma of assault on its home soil. For nearly two hundred years, our central drama was not the invincibility of our frontiersmen but their inability to repel invasions of non-Christian, nonwhite “barbarians” from the homestead door. To conceal the insecurity bred by those attacks, American culture would generate an ironclad countermyth of cowboy swagger and feminine frailty, which has been reanimated whenever the nation feels threatened. On September 11, Americans were once again returned to an experience of homeland terror and humiliation. And, once again, they fled from self-knowledge and retreated into myth.

The book’s designer is Picador Books’ creative director  Henry Sene Yee.    Cool, young Hungarian-in-New-York artist  Andrea Dezsö is the illustrator.  

I agree with Sullivan that the silhouettes on the cover are effective in a creepy-scary kind of way (which I think is in keeping with the message of the book).  New York Times reviewer Michiko Kakutani called the book itself “tendentious, self-important, sloppily reasoned book that gives feminism a bad name,” among other things (the full review is here).  I don’t think the text was that bad.  And the paperback’s cover is darn effective.

-Bridget Crawford

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