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Last Man Down [Hardcover]

Richard Picciotto
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 2 2002
On September 11, 2001, FDNY Battalion Chief Richard "Pitch" Picciotto answered the call heard around the world. In minutes he was at Ground Zero of the worst terrorist attack on American soil, as the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center began to burn-and then to buckle. A veteran of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, Picciotto was eerily familiar with the inside of the North Tower. And it was there that he concentrated his rescue efforts. It was in its smoky stairwells where he heard and felt the South Tower collapse. Where he made the call for firemen and rescue workers to evacuate, while he stayed behind with a skeleton team of men to help evacuate a group of disabled and infirm civilians. And it was in the rubble of the North Tower where Picciotto found himself buried-for more than four hours after the building's collapse.

This is the harrowing true story of a true American hero, a man who thought nothing of himself-and gave nearly everything for others during one of New York City's-and the country's-darkest hours.

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Product Description

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.

From Booklist

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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I remember what we all remember about that morning: clear horizon, high sun, visibility stretching to forever. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars One-Man Operation? June 23 2004
Format:Hardcover
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. If you want to read a very good book about 9/11, try Report From Ground Zero.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Really Great Read See for yourself June 18 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
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. It was a book that I could not put down I finished reading it in two days. I would encourage all to read it and See for yourself.
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By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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. How dare he disparage the other people trapped in that stairwell who proved to be ultimately more courageous and more useful than he was. Many FDNY personnel can discount much of what he has stated as "truth" and it is really a shame that this fictitious book has become a bestseller. If you want to know the real story of what occurred that day in Stairwell B, ask the other 13 men and woman who were trapped with him that haven't felt the need to shout their heroic feats to the world.
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1.0 out of 5 stars STFD Firechief June 3 2004
By Tim
Format:Paperback
This book is frankly, terrible. The author sets himself up as the one-and-only hero in his world of self-centeredness. We can certainly admire anyone who went through the events that he did, but this type of storytelling tends to diminish the whole thing. I find it very hard to believe the truth of much of his perspective. If his attitude about himself is any indication of officers in the FDNY (likely not), it's no wonder that the FD and PD of that city don't get along.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Could've Been Better March 23 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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 it but my opinion quickly changed. The further I read into the book the more I noticed that the focus of the book went from the horrifying events of 9/11 to Richard Picciotto himself. I mean this was the first book that I have read on 9/11 so I can't compare it to anything but I still think that someone else could've done better on explaining what happened that day. I was asked what was the first thing that sticks out in my mind when I think back about the book and that is that Richard is in very good shape. When that should be of minor importance and what happened that day day should have greater importance. Well that's my opinion and thanks for taking your time to read it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Documenting History March 11 2004
By jesse
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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.... this will be the book that documented one of the best ,first person accounts ,of a day in American History. You will never understand the sound or the feeling inside the World Trade Center on September 11th without this book. DO yourself a favor and read this book.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Self indulgent clap-trap Jan. 28 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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. Picciotto however, came out of it smelling of roses (and money). If you want to read a book that has a story line that goes something like this "me, me, me, I'm great, I'm in great shape, I'm the Chief, me, me , me" then buy this book. It should first be renamed to "First Man Down - One mans account of himself". With any common sense you can see that Picciotto abandoned his post and his men on a number of occasions that day. Yet he still tries to turn it all around so that he can achieve some kind of Super Man status, while belittling the bravery and hard work of other fire fighters (especially those of lesser rank). Read this book if you want to laugh at his ego, you'll find it in the 'Fiction' section of your Library.
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1.0 out of 5 stars I know guys like this...Rookies! Dec 30 2003
By L.T.
Format:Hardcover
Just as one small example, read pages 29 to 32, in which the Book Smart Chief "races" through the borough. As a big city professional fire officer, I know guys like this: new kids who can't get a handle on themselves during an emergency. And some times these new kids have 30 or so years in. The most honest statements in the book are when he says "I moved about with a kind of tunnel vision" (page 28) and when he couldn't put his turnouts on enroute (page 30)!
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