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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
102 Minutes
Format: Paperback|Change
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on 30 August 2015
Fantastic book explaining in detail so much more that lay behind the disaster of the day, tracing all manner of minute failings which contributed to the collapse of the towers and the significant death toll. The definitive account of the end of the World Trade Center. A must read.

There is a list in the appendices of people who are named in the book and sadly perished. I bookmarked this with a post it note. The book is so well written that I found myself connecting with many people whose tales are told. Often I found myself flicking back to the list and checking of the people I was reading about made it or not. Each time I saw a name in the list I felt a great degree of sadness. Even though we all know what happened that day I was hoping the people I was getting to know would make it out. I really connected with a couple of them, one in particular being fireman Tom Kelly. I have re-read his story many times.

This is a book that is painful to read yet utterly compelling. I know I will re-read it several times. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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on 13 August 2017
To say I love a book which chronicles so much suffering and hurt is not the right word. Nor is enjoy, as it sounds as though I relished it. I didn't but I persisted because those people could have been any one of us and I felt I had to understand as much as possible of what happened on that day.
I had to read it in small doses but I couldn't leave it alone for long, as I felt impelled to know the fate of many of the individuals mentioned.
This book was very well-researched with so many pertinent and fascinating pieces of background information that made the tragedy more understandable and sometimes, alas, inevitable. The prose style was excellent.
This is a very well-written book which I recommend but with a warning - it is harrowing.
But then, how much more harrowing was it for the people in those towers?
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on 13 September 2017
I wanted to know more about what happened in 2001 and red various reviews for different 9/11 books and this one struck me as the most accurate and interesting. I read the book with relish but also with sadness. I think 9/11 is a very difficult subject to face but I'm glad I read the book.
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on 25 November 2015
This book follows the movements of many people as the events of that day unfold and not all of the people telling their story here survived. If that sounds strange it is. But the lost peoples stories are told well. This is a great book, very well written and worth a read if you are interested in 9/11.
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on 9 February 2017
The ultimate 9/11 book. How an unremarkable day turned into such a tragic piece of history.
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on 12 August 2017
Great book! Fast delivery!
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on 22 July 2017
Good Read
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on 8 September 2015
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This is a very well written, compassionate and respectful, but not overly emotional, account of that dreadful morning when people went to work on a normal Tuesday morning and found everything changed forever. Using interviews, taped telephone calls and messages relayed from and to the towers on the day, the authors tell the story of a group of people in both the North and South towers. They also explain why so many people failed to escape the North Tower, despite a handful of people managing to get past the impact zone using the only remaining intact stairwell. It was saddening to read about the lack of stairwells, the designers more concerned with rentable space than safety, and a lack of communication which meant that appropriate information was not relayed to people who might possibly have had a chance of escape. Other important aspects of this book discuss why the South Tower (hit by the second plane) fell first, why so many firemen perished and how the lack of communication between the police and the fire department hampered efforts to coordinate the rescue efforts.

Mostly though, this is the story of people and how they responded to the events on that morning. How some immediately evacuated, despite safety procedures which suggested they stay put until help arrived, or who were told that the South Tower was perfectly safe after the North Tower was hit. At first, I was amazed that anybody in the South Tower would even consider heading back for their desks when the North Tower was ablaze, but as the authors explain, many of the people there had no idea what had happened. Even those coordinating the rescue were often unable to communicate with their own people and even when the South Tower fell, most of those in the adjoining building had no idea about what had happened. There are untold stories here of bravery, self sacrifice and heroic selflessness, which are humbling to read. It is impossible to read this book and remain untouched by the very best of humanity, even when faced with the very worst situations.
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on 20 January 2016
This book doesn't romanticise the event - it tells the story, warts and all.

For example, I thought that the collapse of the South Tower would lead to firefighters and the police immediately evacuating the North Tower. The book reveals that many of the firefighters had no idea that the South Tower had fallen - the police knew (as the police helicopters relayed the information) but on the police frequency only. Firefighters and the police used different frequencies. Cooperation between the two was poor due to longstanding rivalry.

The book enables me to recognise untrue stories - for example a TV programme on 9/11 stated that doors accessing the roofs were locked in order to prevent suicides. Well, the book states that the doors were locked due to longstanding FDNY (Fire Department, City of New York)/police rivalry. It explains that during the 1993 bombing, a police helicopter lifted people to safety off the roof. FDNY thought that it was a publicity stunt and was dangerous as it would cause confusion in a fire, with people heading in opposite directions. So the doors were locked.

Incidentally, years ago (immediately after 9/11?) I heard a third story - the doors were locked to prevent a helicopter assault by terrorists. These three different stories show how the truth gets warped and how we cannot necessarily believe what we read even in apparently respectable newpapers or hear in TV news reports from presenters who we trust. Of course, even the story in the book could be wrong but the explanation is so detailed that it seems believable. I can imagine a reporter assuming, for example, the perfectly reasonable 'suicide prevention' story or hearing it from a person he interviewed (who didn't actually know), therefore starting an urban legend. I wonder how many other historical 'facts' are untrue.

The book reveals that people who could have escaped (as they were below the impact zone) didn't (at least at first) as 911 told them to stay put and seal the doors to prevent smoke intrusion. That was official policy, and made sense as collapse was thought impossible. In addition, many people beneath the crash zone survived the impact and should have been unable to escape but couldn't because they could not open doors. They were the sort of people that the firefighters were (in some cases) able to rescue.

Many who started to evacuate the South Tower after the North Tower was hit were persuaded to return to their offices by an announcement that it was safe to do so.

It is not necessarily true that all those that jumped did so voluntarily. Some appear to have been nudged out by the crush to escape heat and smoke.

What is particularly shocking is that a group of people evacuating the North Tower after the South Tower collapsed reported that the 19th floor was 'carpeted with firefighters...'; '...they guessed there were at least 100...'. On telling them to evacuate, someone replied "We'll come down in a few minutes" (p. 226-227). It appears that they were unaware that the South Tower had collapsed or that collapse of the North Tower was imminent. Many lives were apparently lost due to poor communication.

The book reports Giuliani stating that the firefighters had received the order to leave but interpreted it as an order to evacuate civilians, not to evacuate themselves. The book rebuffs this, stating that while some firefighters heroically remained despite knowing the danger, 'numerous firefighters recalled that they were unaware of how serious the situation had become in those final minutes' (p. 251-252). The book cautions against romanticising history.

The book never mentions the conspiracy theory but the stories it tells undermine it. People inside the towers reported, during phone calls, ceilings bowing (consistent with the theory that the Towers collapsed due to fires weakening the trusses). One supposed piece of evidence to support the conspiracy is that slow motion film of the collapse shows puffs of smoke coming out of windows on floors just beneath the area collapsing, with those puffs of smoke advancing downwards like sequential explosions just ahead of the collapse. On hearing this I immediately drew a parallel with closing a door in a room with the window open when it is normally closed - the door slams shut. It is all to do with the air trapped in the room. If a skyscraper is collapsing, air is shunted downwards and will blow out windows - that's no evidence of a controlled demolition. The book confirmed this 'trapped air' theory but astounded me regarding its ferocity - 'The impossible collisions of floor, steel, glass are belting towards them. Even stronger than the noise is the wind. Sal D'Agostino tries to open a door to leave the stairwell, but it flies out and throws him against the wall. The wind lifts the engine's chauffeur, Mike Meldrum, off his feet and heaves him one floor down; it carries Matt Komorowski down three floors...' (p. 244).

The New York Police, FDNY and many civilians willingly walked into a patently dangerous situation. I have nothing but respect for them.
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