A first responder’s harrowing account of 9/11—the inspirational true story of an American hero who gave nearly everything for others during one of New York City’s darkest hours.
On September 11, 2001, FDNY Battalion Chief Richard “Pitch” Picciotto answered the call heard around the world. In minutes, he was at Ground Zero of the worst terrorist attack on American soil, as the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center began to burn—and then to buckle.
A veteran of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, Picciotto was eerily familiar with the inside of the North Tower. And it was there that he concentrated his rescue efforts. It was in its smoky stairwells where he heard and felt the South Tower collapse. He made the call for firemen and rescue workers to evacuate, while he stayed behind with a skeleton team of men to help evacuate a group of disabled and infirm civilians. And it was in the rubble of the North Tower where Picciotto found himself buried—for more than four hours after the building’s collapse.
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.
"The last man down"
Awesome read, very humbling!
A book that makes it hard to breathe
I’ll admit that I had a hard time with this book. The print is much too small. I almost gave up & quit a couple of times. But the real truth is that I simply couldn’t quit reading it. Yes, I knew that this was written by a SURVIVOR. He got out. He made it out of there alive. But I kept the feeling that I needed to be in that hell with him. I NEEDED to hear his story. We all need to remember what went on that hellish day of September 11, 2001. We must remember the terror we felt watching as those planes hit. We must remember the horror of the lives lost. We must hold on to the feelings of togetherness & unity as Americans in the awful days that followed. We must never forget.
I had the honor of meeting and hearing Mr. Picciotto speak back in 2002.
I then promptly bought the book as soon as it came out. While nothing compares to hearing him tell this story firsthand, the book is impossible to put down; and I am not a bookworm by any means.
In three words; a must read.