September 04, 2006 12:00 PM

It was inevitable: As the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks nears, a host of books on the subject is hitting shelves. Six diverse approaches that are well worth your time:

THE FRESH TAKE WATCHING THE WORLD CHANGE by David Friend. Thanks to digital photography and 24/7 TV news, writes Friend, the attacks were witnessed in real time everywhere—a kind of “sadistic, global reality show.” His intriguing book explores how photos shaped the experience and helped us through.

THE BACKSTORY THE LOOMING TOWER: AL-QAEDA AND THE ROAD TO 9/11 by Lawrence Wright. So who are those guys? Wright’s history illuminates the world that spawned Bin Laden, the missed opportunities to stop the attacks and the risks ahead.

THE BIG PICTURE AFTERMATH by Joel Meyerowitz. The only photographer granted continuous access to Ground Zero during the cleanup, Meyerowitz has assembled a haunting, essential archive.

THE REVISIONIST HISTORY GRAND ILLUSION: THE UNTOLD STORY OF RUDY GIULIANI AND 9/11 by Wayne Barrett and Dan Collins. “The public needed a hero … Rudy Giuliani stepped forward,” the authors write, but his failures—to prepare for terrorism, to protect responders—tarnish his crown. An eye-opener.

THE WIDOWS’ TALES: LOVE YOU, MEAN IT by Patricia Carrington, Julia Collins, Claudia Gerbasi and Ann Haynes. A moving look at how life went on for four wives who lost husbands—and found each other—when the towers went down.

THE VISUAL LEARNERS’ OVERVIEW THE 9/11 REPORT: A GRAPHIC ADAPTATION by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón. Couldn’t make it through the 9/11 Commission’s hefty report? Get this expertly illustrated look at that awful day and its lessons.