New York City's thirtieth Fire Commissioner shares his personal experiences during and after the September 11 attacks, from his work beside Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, to his remembrance of lost colleagues and friends. 125,000 first printing.
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Thomas Von Essen served as the Thirtieth Fire Commissioner of New York City from April 1996 to December 31, 2001. Before becoming fire commissioner, he spent nearly three years as president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, the largest firefighters union in the nation. Von Essen joined the fire department in 1970 and was assigned to Ladder 42 in the Bronx, where he spent most of his firefighting career. Currently, Von Essen is a senior vice president at Giuliani Partners LLC, a New York consulting firm headed by former mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. He lives in Manhattan with his wife, Rita.From Publishers Weekly:
This autobiography by the former fire commissioner of New York City opens with a harrowing description of September 11: he conveys a visceral sense of the smoke and ash, the chaos and tumult, as well as his own shifting state of mind (confidence to doubt, confusion, pain). As Von Essen notes, people on the scene knew less of what was going on than the rest of us at home watching events on TV. He gives moving portraits of the fire department heads who died in the towers Chief Peter Ganci, chaplain Father Mychal Judge and makes clear that he only survived because he'd been called away to meet with Mayor Giuliani when the towers crashed. Equally powerful are Von Essen's descriptions of other tragic fires during his terms as fire commissioner: he demonstrates that bravery in the FDNY is an almost daily occurrence. Recollections of Von Essen's personal life his happy childhood, his on-again, off-again romance with the woman who eventually became his wife, his educational floundering are less compelling than his depiction of day-to-day life in a firehouse, with the joshing, the camaraderie, the drama and terror of fire fighting. Unfortunately, he also makes it clear that not all the particulars of firehouse life are admirable the insularity, the homophobia but Von Essen's love for his work and for his fellow firefighters shines on every page. Anyone who wants to understand the mindset of a firefighter the passion for work, the brotherly devotion and the courage will learn much from this homely account. 16-page color insert, b&w photos throughout.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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