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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
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting point of view Dec 6 2003
Format:Paperback
I picked up this book solely because I had heard this man talking on the radio to promote this book. For the entire 1.5 hours the man talked, I was riveted to the radio. I was so freakin amazed at this mans story as he was relating it, that I had to have his book.
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.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Superman? Not ! Freelancer? You bet! Aug. 12 2003
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Let me get this right....Picciotto talks an FDNY dispatcher into allowing him to respond and he abandons his own division. Upon arrival at the command post, he ignores command protocal, commandeers the crew from 110 Truck, then abandons them in the stairwell (because he is in such great shape).
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Makes you believe in miracles! June 20 2003
Format:Hardcover
This is a great book. Richard Picciotto is not an experienced author, but I kind of like the way he tells his story. It is strait forward and easy comprehensible. The story is about several firefighter's and a civilian's escape from the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Richard Picciotto is the battalion chief of the eleventh precinct. He enters the tower in order to rescue civilians. He finds that most of the people have all ready evacuated the tower. But he finds a few lost souls. After a while he hears a loud sound. He can't understand what it is. He hears on the radio that "the tower came down". He can't comprehend it. But after the initial shock, he manages to puzzle the pieces back together. The South Tower is gone. He orders an evacuation of the North Tower. He makes his descent from the 35th floor, checking every floor on the way down for survivors. He finds some handicapped people who can't get down on their own. And he and his fellow firefighters help them down. After a while he hears the loud sound again, and he knows this is the end. Well, is it? He is buried under the rubble. And somehow manages to survive being buried.
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!
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5.0 out of 5 stars AN AMAZING STORY Dec 6 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I am not a big reader. I was given this book by a friend and told that it was the most amazing book he had ever read. Well let me tell you, this non reader read this book in one night. IT was terrifying going through the emotions that this man went through that day with him. I felt as if i too were experinceing everything that he had on that horrible day.
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.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars One-Man Operation?
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 more
Published on June 23 2004 by Shirley W. Ackerman
5.0 out of 5 stars A Really Great Read See for yourself
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 more
Published on June 18 2004
1.0 out of 5 stars Ask the other survivors for a very different view.
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 more
Published on June 14 2004
1.0 out of 5 stars STFD Firechief
This book is frankly, terrible. The author sets himself up as the one-and-only hero in his world of self-centeredness. Read more
Published on June 3 2004 by Tim
3.0 out of 5 stars Could've Been Better
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 more
Published on March 23 2004 by Kasondra
5.0 out of 5 stars Documenting History
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 more
Published on March 11 2004 by jesse
1.0 out of 5 stars Self indulgent clap-trap
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 more
Published on Jan. 28 2004 by Tony McKeown
1.0 out of 5 stars I know guys like this...Rookies!
Just as one small example, read pages 29 to 32, in which the Book Smart Chief "races" through the borough. Read more
Published on Dec 29 2003 by L.T.
1.0 out of 5 stars Very weak and boring
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 more
Published on Dec 4 2003 by Matthew
5.0 out of 5 stars last man down
I recomend this book to anyone who wants to know what actually happened and when. This book tells it all. Read more
Published on Oct. 9 2003 by amanda
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