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We're Not Leaving: 9/11 Responders Tell Their Stories of Courage, Sacrifice, and Renewal Paperback – 15 Nov 2013

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars 33 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You need to read this book, you need to know the whole stroy 11 Sept. 2011
By Book Him Danno - Published on
Format: Paperback
It is easy to forget the enormity of what happened on 9/11. I remember being at work and slowly congregating in the conference room with my coworkers watching the events unfold on the big screen. It seemed unreal at the time, especially when the second plane hit. For me 9/11 was something that happened on television; consequently it never felt quite real to me. It is easy to forget what really transpired that day. And if that happens to me, someone who was 32 at the time, it is a tragedy. Multiply me by thousands and we have another national tragedy developing.

At the end of the day I think books like this one should be required reading for all Americans, so we never forget what happened. To all those innocent people who died that day just going about their life, to the first responders who died trying to save people, and to the numerous first responders who continue to this day to suffer and die directly as a result of 9/11.

This book delves into this last group, probably the most forgotten group of all those affected by 9/11. It tells the stories of those whose jobs took them to ground zero on September 11th, and kept them their over the ensuing weeks, months and years. The enormity of their efforts and sacrifices has been ignored, and if we let it, will be lost.

Imagine the long term effects, both physically and mentally, of spending months searching a burning pile of metal and mortar for the pulverized bodies of almost 3000 individuals while breathing in 3 inches of dust the whole time. To a person, everyone of the 33 responders (or spouse) say they all would do it again, but through their stories they explain what a truly devastating nightmare 9/11 was. It is their own experiences and it makes 9/11 real, not just some television show you saw 10 years ago.

This is not an easy book to read, but I feel we all should. In the end it showed to me that even through the worst tragedy imaginable, America came together. We sacrificed for each other, some more than others, and we got the job done. If we forget and drift apart, lose our national identity, then the evil of 9/11 has succeeded. This is an important book.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read - Unique Approach to 9/11 Experience 1 Sept. 2011
By Solid Citizen - Published on
Format: Paperback
I have read widely on the topic of 9/11 and must say that reading this book was one of the most meaningful and compelling experiences I have had in this endeavor. The book contains the oral histories taken of a variety of responders to the disaster - cops, firemen, emergency workers, laborers, construction workers and others who were on the scene from the moment the first plane hit and through the months and months it took to reclaim the site. Their stories are stunning, moving, heartwrenching and inspiring. The doctor who compiled the book runs a clinic for responders on Long Island, which he established shortly after the disaster. (The story of the genesis of the clinic and this project is a fascinating one it itself). Apparently the oral history project grew out of the work in this clinic and was actually generated at the clinic. This special setting seems to have allowed the interviewers to elicit particularly intimate, revelatory testimony from these people who sacrificed so much for our community, and continue to do so. They are stunningly articulate and the reader is able to vicariously experience the catharsis that these people seem to have experienced from telling their stories. The book makes us think about what motivates people to rush toward a disaster, rather than away from it. What calls people to service of others. How do we, as a society, draw the proper lessons from this experience. What does it teach us about the fabric of our society? One comes away feeling humbled and truly inspired. As my title says: a Must Read! As a footnote, the proceeds from the book go to benefit the clinic and a scholarship fund for the children of the responders.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First-hand accounts 10 Sept. 2011
By Todd Thompson - Published on
Format: Paperback
Layer upon layer of heroic stories, opinions, and interpretations of 9/11 have taken on the character and power of myth in the ten years since tragedy struck the United States in the form of hijacked airliners exploding into New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. Not forgotten is the attempt of other hijackers to attack government buildings in Washington D.C., only to be thwarted by courageous passengers before the mission could be accomplished.

Dr. Benjamin J. Luft is the Director of the Long Island Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program at State University of New York. In his work there, Luft has provided care for over 6,000 responders and workers who were exposed first-hand not only to the tragedy of 9/11, but also to the health hazards of "the pile" on which they worked for over a year to clear the site.

His book, We're Not Leaving: 9/11 Responders Tell Their Stories of Courage, Sacrifice, and Renewal, is a collection of first-hand accounts drawn from the voices of the people whose lives have been marked permanently by doing society's hardest work of removing the sad, visible reminders of a nation's vulnerability.

This layer of stories and reflections are those at the core, those in the pre-interpretive time period in which the concerns were the facts, the people, the deceased, and the horror of never knowing if one can take another breath before succumbing to the death that surrounds them all.

Lost in the ten years since, amidst the growing American story of its heroes and its struggle to memorialize the events in the most meaningful way, are the accounts of those who were most exposed to the hazardous aftermath of the rubble, the random body parts, and the suffocating air and odors of "the pile." Luft has compiled thirty-two first-hand stories of workers, medical personnel, clergy, and common citizens who for months dedicated themselves to be the hands and arms of a nation to cleanse America's landscape and to enable its citizens to begin its processes of grief and tribute.

Divided into five sections, covering the minutes after the attack through the continuing years of healing, Luft has chosen stories that come from virtually all sectors of the recovery team. Some stories are centered on the worker himself and his own struggles with coping with the tragedy while others exhibit the selfless, sometimes self-denying, reflections of heroes.

We're Not Leaving is a book which should be consumed in small bites, a story at a time, to avoid losing the substantial impact which each story provides on its own. It serves best those who want to know what really happened at ground zero regardless of what happened in the skies above or in the politics abroad. In an effort to assimilate the 9/11 story into one's own life, this collection of stories provides stark points of identity for any reader.


Article first posted on Blogcritics: [...]
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Human Spirit 17 Sept. 2011
By BAPF - Published on
Format: Paperback
In this extraordinary collection of riveting first-person accounts, one hears the voice of 32 of the 9/11 First Responders. Although the scene is both harrowing and unimaginably bleak, what comes through most strongly is the generous, natural reflex of these 32 individuals to do what appears to have come instinctively - to put all of one's life on the line to help others in need. While the news media is filled with so much evidence of the evil that humans afflict on others, it is tremendously valuable to have this account of ordinary individuals reflexively doing the extraordinary - and in so doing, demonstrating courage, compassion, and a profound commitment to comrades and community. This was their natural response! While this natural response left many of them with an aftermath of physical and/or emotional wounds, their response - so eloquently documented in this book - leaves the world with a permanent magnificent tribute to the best in humanity.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why I bought five copies of this book, and why you should buy multiple copies, too. 13 Sept. 2011
By Roberta Richin - Published on
Format: Paperback
What is it that makes a woman refuse to leave such imminent, obvious danger? What is that propels any person into a building that others are jumping to their deaths to escape? What is it that compels a man, separated from his fellow officers and blinded in a choking, murderous, burning cloud, to get one of the very few profoundly injured survivors out of immediate danger and into the hands of a team that could help?

In a departure from every book of interviews I have read since embracing reading more than a half-century ago, Dr. Benjamin Luft and his team let responders talk and let us explore our own questions unimpeded by interviewer comment or presence. The interviewers are as invisible and as illuminating as light. As a result, the book transports us into and through the hell these survivors faced, all the while revealing their thoughts and feelings about the day as it began, the searing moments of impact, and then life and death, love and fear,family and faith, service and pride, devotion to work and country, and the unswerving practice of putting others first.

Don't expect any voyeuristic drama or one-dimensional, cartoon super-heroes in this book. These are people many of us walk past without much thought but daily depend on for their help: First responders and iron workers, spiritual leaders and health care providers - All real-life, real-world men and women telling us the unvarnished truth as they lived it on 9-11, and as it continues to affect them every day since.

Let the next thing you do for yourself be to buy this book. Let the next thing you do for others be to buy this book and give it family, friends, colleagues ... Read it alone or together and discover, to borrow from the song "For Good," that you will be "changed for the better, and changed for good."
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