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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.
This gripping, first-person account of a 9-11 survivor provides a firefighter's view of the World Trade Center catastrophe. An invaluable eyewitness to history as well as a professional just doing his job, Battalion Commander Richard Picciotto was inside the North Tower when it collapsed. Determined to be the last man down, Picciotto coordinated the rescue effort of several dozen incapacitated civilians. Stranded on the landing between the sixth and seventh floors when the building came tumbling down around and on top of him, Chief "Pitch," a small band of fellow firefighters, and one grandmotherly civilian improbably survived the collapse in a small vacuum created by the placement of the twisted debris. Collaborator Paisner, a best-selling biographer, allows Pitch to tell his harrowing story in his own no-nonsense voice. Picciotto bluntly castigates the departmental administrators responsible for the cost-cutting and ultimately life-threatening measures that left the leadership ranks depleted and the men on the line seriously underequipped. Certain to be a best-seller, this inspirational account serves as a tribute to all the firefighters and rescue personnel who unquestioningly put their lives on the line that day. Margaret Flanagan
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I'm surprised that I actually read the whole book. It is several hundred pages of one man boasting about his role on this tragic day. Read morePublished on June 23 2004 by Shirley W. Ackerman
I read this book after hearing about it from a friend. I found it was a very enlighting story of the heroism and humanity of new york firefighters. Read morePublished on June 18 2004
Chief Picciotta took a horrific day in our city and country's history and tried to turn it into a personal account of his own so-called heroism. Read morePublished on June 14 2004
This book is frankly, terrible. The author sets himself up as the one-and-only hero in his world of self-centeredness. Read morePublished on June 3 2004 by Tim
When I first began reading Last Man Down, I found it to be very interesting and I really liked it. I began to tell all of my friends and even my family members that they should... Read morePublished on March 23 2004 by Kasondra
One of the most amazing books that i have ever read. One man gives his opinions in a raw unforgiving emotional testimony. He tells it like it was. In years to come.... Read morePublished on March 11 2004 by jesse
I'm not a fire fighter but I think that I can appreciate the work that they do and the horror that descended upon the FDNY on Sept 11. Read morePublished on Jan. 28 2004 by Tony McKeown
Just as one small example, read pages 29 to 32, in which the Book Smart Chief "races" through the borough. Read morePublished on Dec 29 2003 by L.T.
There are so many better books out on 9|11 and the firefighters response. This one is a mostly boring account of Picciotto's day. Read morePublished on Dec 4 2003 by Matthew