Posted by: ushistoryfiles | August 15, 2012

Book Review – Resurrecting the Street

When teaching my American History II class I often joke with my students that anything that happened in the last 25 years is not really history, it is current events.  I’ve even been known to draw that line as far back as the American Civil War stating that, “anything that happened since Reconstruction is current events”.  Now, I don’t really believe either of those statements, they are just a way of expressing my passion for the early period of American History.  Now, I do believe that it does take some time for us to really be able to understand an event so I do not end my AH II class with the events that I would consider current.

Sometimes, however, events happen that are so monumental that you know right away that they are going to be “life changing”.  Needless to say, 9/11 was just one of those events.  I need to pause here and mention that 9/11 was a very personal event for me.  I grew up in NJ, had been to the World Trade Center on several occasions, and could even see them from near when I grew up.  And yes, I knew people who lost their life on that tragic day.

Resurrecting the Street tells the tale of the U.S. financial markets in the days following 9/11.  Stunned by the tragedy that 9/11 is, we don’t often think about its effect on the communications and financial industries.  (Living in Tennessee at the time I can remember being able to make exactly 1 phone call back to NJ before losing the ability to call into the NY/NJ metropolitan area.)  In the financial industry records were lost, communications were disrupted, lives were ended, and people were in shock.  How would the financial industry recover from the disaster?

This is the story that Jeff Ingber tells in Resurrecting the Street.  Ingber at the time was the General Counsel of the Government Securities Clearing Corporation – an eyewitness to both the events of that day as well as the rebuilding of the financial markets.  The story he tells is a mix of emotional testimony, personal accounts, and displays the people side of the financial industry.  As the events of 9/11 unfolded trading markets had to be closed, contingencies had to be created as backup plans failed, markets had to re-open.  (Remember what the financial markets represent in terms of financial stability to the United States, no the World.)  Imagine the American Stock Exchange with no power, no communications, and no place to work from.  Buildings were damaged, people were in shock and trying to come to grips with what happened, yet still trying to function to recover from the disaster.

Overall, while Resurrecting the Street documents the disaster recovery and contingency planning post 9/11, the human element is not overlooked.  We often forget that industries are made up of people.  Ingber shows us the bravery and dedication of the group of people who worked in the financial sector in the days following 9/11.

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