Top positive review
A lasting memorial to those brave firefighters
on October 16, 2003
Expecting a well-composed book from a popular and proficient historian, it was no surprise that it was memorable! Every word, every page was profoundly interesting, whether details were sadly moving or funny, the message was clear! This is a short and meaningful read.
As a person who was geographically distant, Colorado, from the tragedy, the horror effected the nation and me emotionally. When I learned that Pulitizer Prize winner and author Halberstam had written a book about that specific firehouse that lost 12 men, I wanted to read it.
Once you begin reading, you easily learn who the firemen were, their decisions to become firemen, their odd quirks, their funny moments, their other jobs, their passions, and of course their family. What is moving is the strong sincere bond they share, unique friendships, caring people willing to give their time to help each other out.
It was the talk that Joseph Ginley, whose firefighter son John Ginley died that made a profound impression. The father told them firefighting was a good life, you lived with other men in genuine camaraderie, and you ended up, almost without realizing it, having the rarest kind of friendships, ones with men who were willing to die for one another.
I came with a strong understanding of how a firefighter truly becomes this spirit of humanity and someone willing to give up their life for you.
On the inside cover is a memorial, the original blackboard with the names and their assignments. It's eerie. And as Halberstam begins, he shares just enough facts about the firehouse in Manhattan, it's origin and renovation. We learn the dynamics of highrise firehouses versus suburban firehouses and its firemen.
Then, you are immersed into a personal portrayal of each firefighter. And it isn't just an account of each man, the details offer more than you bargained for. The information is weaved strategically and suttle. It's very clear that Halberstam conducted a serious number of interviews, because he got such remarkable information that doesn't come with one or two interviews, it comes for a volume of detail about a person. Upon reading these intimate details, as you delve deeper into what made this fireman, his values, friendships, faith, family, etc., you can't help but keep looking at the pictures, putting a face with the name.
Clearly, the writing is what really made this a special account. What a warm feeling I get from these men who are strangers to me, but I learned about a "true fireman" and am reminded by what veteran fireman Ray Pfeifer said, "People think they know what we do, but they really don't know what we do." I say..people..... educate yourself here, because those faces on the back are real people, real firemen, the firemen we really don't know or understand. And when you finish this book, you will look at firemen differently..... ...MZ RIZZ