LAST MAN DOWN

Richard Picciotto, Author, Daniel Palsner, Author, Daniel Paisner, With
Richard Picciotto, Author, Daniel Palsner, Author, Daniel Paisner, With with Daniel Paisner. Berkley $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-425-18677-0
Reviewed on: 03/25/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-0-7865-2856-1
Hardcover - 304 pages - 978-0-7528-5262-1
Hardcover - 349 pages - 978-0-7862-4731-8
Paperback - 347 pages - 978-1-4104-0089-5
Mass Market Paperbound - 272 pages - 978-0-425-18988-7
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-7865-2854-7
Hardcover - 342 pages - 978-0-7540-9245-2
Hardcover - 374 pages - 978-0-7540-1877-3
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When the north tower of the World Trade Center collapsed on September 11, Picciotto, an FDNY battalion commander, was inside it, on a stairwell between the sixth and seventh floors, along with a handful of rescue personnel and one "civilian." This outspoken account tells of that indelible day, and it will shake and inspire readers to the core. The book starts by listing the 343 firefighters who died from the attacks, setting an appropriately grave tone to what follows, which begins as the author heads to work at Engine Co. 76 and Ladder Co. 22 on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Then comes a call on the intercom, and soon he is racing down to the World Trade Center. Arriving, he dodges falling bodies, runs inside and upstairs with a battalion not his own. Early in the book, this straightforward accounting is intercut with flash-forwards to 9:59 a.m., when Picciotto, on the 35th floor of the north tower, experiences the collapse of the south tower—not visually, but aurally and in his body ("the building was shaking like an earthquake... but it was the rumble that struck me still with fear. The sheer volume of it. The way it coursed right through me... like a thousand runaway trains speeding toward me"). Picciotto, writing with Paisner (coauthor of autobios by Montel Williams and George Pataki, among others), pulls no punches, naming those who hindered his work and those who helped, taking numerous swipes at what he sees as a fire department bureaucracy whose money pinching puts firefighters at risk. This mouthiness can grate, but it certainly gives the flavor of a man and a department whose heroism became clear to all that day. It's Picciotto and his comrades' courage and willingness to sacrifice that every reader will remember, and honor, upon closing this gritty, heartfelt remembrance of a day of infamy and profound humanity. (May)

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