I had high hopes for "9/11 Unmasked", as it was touted as the "Magnum Opus" of the 9/11 Consensus Panel, and has been highly praised by many in the 9/11 Truth community.
The book is arranged as 51 chapters, which are somewhat difficult to navigate as there's no table of contents (just a list of sections). Each chapter describes a supposed "official story" claim and then proceeds to explain why they think it is incorrect. The chapter claims are often tortuously specific and of dubious relevance, such as: "#29: The Claim That It Was Not Imperative For President Bush to be Hustled Away From the Florida School" or "#16 The Claim That The ForeKnowledge of WTC 7's Fall Was Based on Witness Observations."
The often convoluted nature of these claims might come from the fact that they were written by committee. In an effort to avoid groupthink, the group of 9/11 conspiracy theorists reviewed each chapter in private and submitted their evaluation without knowing what the other conspiracy theorists thought of it. Any section where opinions differed was then dropped or tweaked until everyone agreed. It would have been fascinating and useful if they had actually documented this process and shown what changes were made or what claims were rejected as too fanciful. Sadly these deliberations are not available.
The book does occasionally raise valid-seeming questions - such as why there was a failure to intercept the hijacked planes. But instead of identifying actual causes such as incompetence or failures of communication, they leap to outlandish and often long-ago debunked interpretations. A significant fraction of the book is devoted to establishing that people were not where they said they were, which it accomplishes in a tortuous manner by piecing together multiple largely anecdotal timelines from the recollections of different people until some discrepancy naturally arises. These discrepancies are then used to bolster some more outlandish claim.
They dance around the most outlandish ideas in the Truther community, such as the idea that no plane hit the Pentagon, but they go full bore for the idea that flight 93 was shot down. They layer on multiple straw-man concoctions such as "#33 The Claim The Secretary of Defence Rumsfeld Was Not in a Position to Do Anything About the Attacks or the Crash of United 93", and gladly cherry-pick timelines to support these rather ill-defined assertions.
They then use these many pages of timelines to support extreme points of the theory, which themselves get very little in the way of actual evidence, and that generally being wrong. The prime example of this is chapter 23 "The Claim that United Flight 93 Crashed in Pennsylvania", a chapter that takes up barely half a page. It claims that Flight 93 was shot down, but offers only a single paragraph of "evidence", which I quote:
"Residents, the mayor, and journalists near Shanksville reported that no airliner was visible at the designated crash site, that contents were found as far as eight miles from the designated crash site, and that parts—including at thousand-pound engine piece—were found over a mile away"
The basic premise here demonstrates a profound disinterest in aerodynamics. When a plane is "shot down" it stops being a sleek flying machine and breaks up into non-aerodynamic pieces that very rapidly slow to a much lower terminal velocity. They don't bury themselves as fragments in the ground but instead end up scattered in large pieces. This was very clearly seen in the shooting down of flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014.
The three pieces of evidence they give both belie their claim and/or are themselves wrong. The fact that no large pieces of wreckage were at the crash site is entirely consistent with an intact plane hitting the ground at high speed. It is utterly inconsistent with a plane being shot down. The very references they give to support the supposed 8-mile debris field explain exactly how it happened - small lightweight fragments of paper, thin plastic, or stuffing from seats were carried by the wind, and mostly just a couple of miles. No human remains were found away from the crash site.
Their source for the "thousand pound engine piece ... over a mile away" is a speculative conspiracy theory piece in a UK tabloid. In fact, the engine piece was an engine fan that had separated on impact and ended up just 300 yards away (1/10th the distance the tabloid claimed). These facts are not something that Griffin and Woodworth can claim ignorance to, as they were clearly laid out as far back as 2006 by articles in Popular Mechanics and elsewhere.
Other chapters are similarly mixed with laborious timelines peppered with incredibly out-of-date claims that have been regurgitated for over a decade. The bizarre obsession with the couple of seconds of essentially free-fall descent of the exterior of WTC7 is highlighted. This was simply a portion of the collapse when the buckled columns offered very little resistance, so it looked like there was none (when there was actually tons, just not hundreds of tons). Yet it has been held up as the Holy Grail of Trutherdom for so long that nobody can even begin to consider that it might not be relevant.
The unwillingness to let things go has always been the great failing of 9/11 Truth (and indeed, of most conspiracy theories.) Perhaps there were some secret nefarious deeds that we need to be aware of regarding 9/11 — like who ultimately financed the hijackers, and what the Saudi government knew — but this regurgitating of long-ago debunked ideas serves only to distract.
This book is a sad testament to the reality that "truthers" in their increasingly tortured attempts to weave a web out of random dots, precious misunderstandings, and falsehoods are only moving further away from the truth.