Years in the making, this spellbinding, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting narrative is an unforgettable portrait of 9/11. This is a 9/11 book like no other. Masterfully weaving together multiple strands of the events in New York, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, Fall and Rise is a mesmerizing, minute-by-minute account of that terrible day. In the days and months after 9/11, Mitchell Zuckoff, then a reporter for the Boston Globe, wrote about the attacks, the victims, and their families. After further years of meticulous reporting, Zuckoff has filled Fall and Rise with voices of the lost and the saved. The result is an utterly gripping book, filled with intimate stories of people most affected by the events of that sunny Tuesday in September: an out-of-work actor stuck in an elevator in the North Tower of the World Trade Center; the heroes aboard Flight 93 deciding to take action; a veteran trapped in the inferno in the Pentagon; the fire chief among the first on the scene in sleepy Shanksville; a team of firefighters racing to save an injured woman and themselves; and the men, women, and children flying across country to see loved ones or for work who suddenly faced terrorists bent on murder. Fall and Rise will open new avenues of understanding for everyone who thinks they know the story of 9/11, bringing to life--and in some cases, bringing back to life--the extraordinary ordinary people who experienced the worst day in modern American history. Destined to be a classic, Fall and Rise will move, shock, inspire, and fill hearts with love and admiration for the human spirit as it triumphs in the face of horrifying events.
Where to start. I already knew all I thought I needed to know about this horrific day but no. Not even close. Mitchell Zuckoff managed to take events that we all are very well versed in and create a page turner par excellence. I mean, it read like a thriller where I had no idea what was going to happen next. He did it by filling the narrative with personal stories of both survivors and those who never stood a chance and yet I didn’t know until the last possible second which it would be. And he did it also by painstakingly developing a timeline that step by step revealed the horrors that we’re all familiar with. And yet, he made these events seem like they just happened and I hadn’t really heard about it before.
Of course I heard at the time about the ghastly communications problems between federal agencies that prevented basic (and I mean basic) information, crucially needed in the case of multiple attacks, from being shared even on a rudimentary level but to think that the NYPD and the NYFD couldn’t easily communicate vital information was fairly shocking. All the communication problems added to the incredible chaos that ruled the day especially in NYC but even at the Pentagon. Granted, these problems have been addressed and hopefully the chances of another day like 9/11 are less likely but just reading about it enraged me. I assumed too much about protections guaranteed by the government.
Please don’t think you know all you need to know about what happened that day. This brilliant book will change your mind and remind you that we must never forget. These brave, passionate, real people will stay with me for a long, long time. So worthy of at least five stars.
This book is a reminder that all acts of terrorism and war are horrific...that the victims are real people and the affects reverberate for a generation or two.