Reluctant Hero: A 9/11 Survivor Speaks Out About That Unthinkable Day, What He's Learned, How He's Struggled, and What No One Should Ever Forget

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9781616082857: Reluctant Hero: A 9/11 Survivor Speaks Out About That Unthinkable Day, What He's Learned, How He's Struggled, and What No One Should Ever Forget
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On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, Michael Benfante went to work, just like he had day after day, at his office on eighty-first floor in the World Trade Center North Tower. Moments after the first plane struck, just twelve floors above him, Benfante organized his terrified employees, getting them out the office and moving down the stairwells. On his way down, he and another co-worker encountered a woman in a wheelchair on the sixty-eighth floor. Benfante, the woman and Benfante’s co-worker then embarked on a ninety-six-minute odyssey of escape—the two men carrying the woman down sixty-eight flights of stairs out of the North Tower and into an ambulance that rushed her to safety just minutes before the tower imploded.

A CBS video camera caught Benfante just as he got out the building, and almost immediately, the national media came calling. Benfante sat on the couch with Oprah Winfrey, where she hailed him as a hero. Almost one year to the day after 9/11, Benfante got married and the woman in the wheelchair sat in the front row.

That’s the storybook ending. But in the aftermath of 9/11, Benfante began a journey fraught with wrenching personal challenges of critical emotional and psychological depth in Reluctant Hero. Benfante shares the trappings of his public heroism, the loneliness of his private anguish, and the hope he finds for himself and for us. Because all of us—whether we were in the towers, in New York City, or someplace else—we are all 9/11 survivors.

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About the Author:

Michael Benfante became a national hero for his actions on September 11, 2001, when he and a co-worker carried a disabled woman in a wheelchair down sixty-eight flights of stairs and out of the World Trade Center North Tower to safety, just minutes before the tower imploded. He is the recipient of a host of honors and international recognition and has testified at a U.S. Senatorial special hearing about his 9/11 experience. Benfante is a 1987 Brown University graduate. He currently lives with his wife and his son in Bloomfield, New Jersey.

Review:

“Benfante’s memoir, Reluctant Hero, is a humbling and courageous one, detailing the struggle of an ordinary man who was forced to find strength he had only read about in books.” (The San Diego Union-Tribune)

“Benfante, catapulted to hero status after he was photographed carrying a wheelchair-bound woman down 68 floors and out of the World Trade Center, tells his post-9/11 tale of emotional and economic hardships and the seering guilt of a survivor.” (The Washington Post)

“Michael Benfante made national news when the media learned that he carried a wheelchair-bound woman down 68 flights of stairs in a burning World Trade Center. This memoir describes Benfante's unshakable belief that there are reservoirs of kindness waiting to be tapped.” (Houston Chronicle)

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