Last Man Down: A Firefighter's Story of Survival and Escape from the World Trade Center Hardcover – Apr 30 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
After having read the book, I was slightly disappointed. Maybe I had built it up too much in my head with anticipation, I do not know. The things this man did were still great if they are true, but it is told from a very egotistical point of view. That left a kind of bad taste to the book. He did not talk that way on the radio. He describes it in the book, as if he were making decisions that may or may not have been according to protocol. All of this was being done without really knowing what was going on around him, (as in the actual buildings falling, etc.). It just left me to wonder how much of the story is true, and how much is added on. It's hard to believe that with all of these men fighting to save lives, he seems to be the best one to always make decisions, or the correct decision. This may just have been a flaw in the way the story was written, I do not know.
All in all, it was a good book. A fascinating tale. I'm just not quite sure of the authenticity of the tale during this tragedy in American history, which is why I only gave it 3 stars.
He then gives the order for all firefighters to evacuate, lies to several firefighters that he has seen their Lieutenant on floors below and searches each floor as he goes down (last of course).
He becomes trapped in the stairwell and he leads all the firefighters out (of course), although he doesn't wait for any of his "brothers", cause he says in the book that by the time he gets off the pile, the brothers behind him are not even in his sight.
Then the first time he returns to ground zero, in October 2001, he brings a writer with him (Mr Paisner). WOW. $$$$$$
Recent NY newspaper stories quote firefighters who "doubt" his story and say he overexaggerated. Picciotto himself is quoted as saying that maybe he "assumed" some things happened, which he says occurred (in the book) .
And for this he is a bestselling author? Give me a break!!!
I have the utmost respect for FDNY and their firefighters. I was friends with several of those who died. Picciotto is a hero because he has served the people of New York for all those years, however, this account he tells tarnishes all that.
Save your money or buy Dennis Smith's book "Report From Ground Zero" and get a story that is ALL true, told by those with the morals and ethics to be truthful and accurate, of which Picciotto's account is neither.
Signed: A 27 year veteran firefighter.
The story is so unbelievable that it is nothing short of a miracle. If you have seen the images on television, this is the story that wasn't told. This is a story of what it takes to be a firefighter. This is a story about an unbelievable escape. This is a story from the inside. No one believed there would be survivors of a building collapse. But this man survived against all odds and he is here to tell the story. If you want to read one story about 9-11 this is the one. I recommend it to everyone. This is an important part of American history!
I have read what others have written on this website about this book and i disagree with some completly. This bbok to me was written by an honest man just trying to show what HE thought. In no way did he ever take away credit of anyone.The person that he gave the least credit was himself. I actually think he gave ladder 6 alot of credit.
Thank you for writing this book. I will pass it on to all those i hold dear so that they too can understand the courage and honor that firemen have. I hope that you have a great life and career but if you truly are done i hope that you realize just how high the world holds you and your brothers.
Most recent customer reviews
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