Never Forget: An Oral History of September 11, 2001

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9780060514334: Never Forget: An Oral History of September 11, 2001

On the morning of September 11, 2001, shock waves rippled through the country as the United States came under terrorist attack. In New York, Washington, D.C., and Somerset County, Pennsylvania, four planes piloted by members of the Al Qaeda terrorist organization left death, shattered innocence, and incomprehensible destruction in their wake. While the attacks united all Americans in their shared horror and grief, the actual witnesses to these events often bear the heaviest weight of these painful memories. Never Forget is a collection of unbelievably moving stories of loss, heartache, and survival, as told in the words of those closest to the unfolding tragedy.

In stark, haunting detail, these vivid personal accounts bring to life the events as they happened: from the harrowing moments after the planes hit the twin Towers of the World Trade Center to the overwhelming cloud of debris that enveloped lower Manhattan when the towers fell, the devastating conversations with loved ones on the hijacked flights, the terrifying hours spent trapped in the fallen buildings, and the painstaking recovery efforts at each site. Moses Lipson, an eighty-nine-year-old construction inspector, walks down from the eighty-eighth floor of Tower 1. Steven Bienkowski, a police officer in the New York Harbor Unit Scuba Team, watches helplessly from a helicopter as people trapped in the upper floors of Tower 1 reach from the windows to beg for a miracle rescue. Tim McGinn, a now-retired NYPD lieutenant, shoots out a window and saves at least thirty people from suffocation. Young Lyzbeth Glick's heart drops when she realizes that her husband, Jeremy, who changed his travel plans at the last moment, is now on the hijacked flight from Newark. As the Pentagon blazes, Lieutenant Colonel Ted Anderson plunges back inside to rescue civilians trapped by fallen debris.

Weeks later, the rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero continue. Construction worker Joseph Bradley looks on as a firefighter gently closes the eyes and straightens the suit of a woman whose body is found in the rubble. Benjamin Garelick, seven years old, raises seven hundred dollars with a lemonade stand to "help the firemen buy a new truck."

As these unforgettable stories reveal, many Americans transcended their own confusion and despair to help one another escape, to offer one another kindness, and to affirm life in the face of catastrophe. This concert of voices shows, as never before, the heartbreaking grief and slow but uplifting healing process that the people of this nation have experienced individually and as one.

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Review:

Mitchell Fink, former New York Daily News gossip columnist, teamed with wife Lois Mathias to gather the first-person accounts of World Trade Center office workers, Pentagon employees, rescue workers, witnesses, and others who lived through the events of September 11. And while Fink does have a background in news reporting, his years plying the gossip trade actually serve him well in Never Forget. Part of the role of the gossipmonger, after all, is to reveal the human sides of public figures, to find the ways in which the famous are just like regular people. Fink and Mathias's interview subjects tell vivid details of what they experienced, forming fascinating, horrifying, and uplifting stories that provide a human face to the magnitude of that day's events. The book is not organized particularly clearly and, between sections, the authors unnecessarily underscore the stories with short inspirational messages rather than let their subjects' experiences do the talking. But the sheer force of the stories themselves is undeniable: the NYPD Chief of Police relates the experience of watching one of the towers collapse, a preschool teacher tells of the three days she spent searching in vain for her fiancÚ, an 89-year-old man describes his trip down 88 flights of stairs. After reading all of these stories, the reader may be struck with not only the enormity of what happened, but also a glimpse into the real impact it had on the people who lived through it. --John Moe

About the Author:

Mitchell Fink, an interntionally recognized journalist, has been a columnist for the Los Angeles herald Examiner, People, and the New York Daily News. He has appeared regularly on television for Fox News, CNN, and CBS.

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