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American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center Paperback – September 11, 2003
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"The Black Presidency"
Rated by Vanity Fair as one of our most lucid intellectuals writing on race and politics today, this book is a provocative and lively look into the meaning of America's first black presidency. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“The one book to read, if you're only reading one.” ―Detroit Free Press
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“One of the most compelling, dramatic, and uplifting pieces of writing you are likely ever to read.” ―St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Extraordinary . . . An amazing piece of journalism, full of colorful characters and astonishing scenes.” ―Peter Carlson, The Washington Post
“Says more about our essential character than a thousand maudlin tributes.” ―Boris Kachka, New York
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Top Customer Reviews
Langewiesche's descriptions of the ruins (along with the wonderful pictures) are chilling: "Most of the rooms (of the Deutsche Bank dining area) had been unoccupied at the time of the attack, and were set for lunch-with fresh place mats, plates, and utensils, and sets of stemmed glasses, some of which had been capsized and broken by the pressure waves and lay now as they had fallen, like everything else here, under a feathery gauze of the Twin Towers' remains." His account of the last minutes of American Airlines Flight 11 and its last conversations with an air-traffic controller in Boston Center are eerie and scary.
The book describes the recovery effort and all the personalities who made it happen, wonderfully. I found myself admiring the soft-spoken demolition expert from North Carolina, David Griffin who, true to the American method, just showed up at the site, proved his merit, and got the job.
I was comforted in a strange sort of way to read that most of the steel recovered from the WTC site was sold as scrap and trucked away to countries such as China, who would put the steel to good use and recycle it. As Langewiesche puts it, "It was a strangely appropriate fate for these buildings, named for just this sort of trade."
In the end, 1.Read more ›
I think the most unexpected part of the book for me was the hard look he took at the actions of the firefighters during the clean up. It was not flattering and for the most part the negative items he reports are not very well known. As you read other reviews this particular item appears to elicit the most emotion. Overall this was a very interesting book. The detail was there and it was well written. My only complaint would be that it was only 200 pages - I would have liked even more detail.
For that some praise its bravery. Others say it reeks of disrespect, especially toward the members of the Fire Department of New York whose energetic response to the WTC fires cost them hundreds of comrades. To me, it's a book about a hole with a hole, that being Langewiesche's unwillingness to deal with the emotions of 9-11.
Reading the Amazon.com reviews, one might think the entire book is about a fire truck loaded with looted blue jeans, or the last words by one of the flight attendants on a hijacked aircraft. "American Ground" only mentions these things in passing, focusing instead on the massive clean-up of the ruined WTC site, a leaky cofferdam with rickety steel beams, potential Freon gas leakage, and a sometimes chaotic command structure worsened at times by "tribal" issues regarding jurisdiction and the handling of human remains.
What Langewiesche doesn't write about is the suffering of widows, the national mourning, episodes of bravery right after the attacks, or even the other two planes hijacked that day. Its subtitle: "Unbuilding The World Trade Center", is what it's about, not a metaphor for demythologizing the 9-11 attacks but the actual demolition work around the ruins.
I think Langewiesche missed an opportunity his access provided him, to use the clean-up as a framing device for getting more into the larger story of 9-11.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I had no idea this fine book caused as much turmoil as it did, until the author’s afterword noting demonstrations against it and efforts to discredit it. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Daniel Berger
Probably one of the most informative literary pieces to rise after the attacks of 9/11. It is an extensive objective and subjective work that explains in detail what it might have... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Liz
This book touches on the heroism, heart and strength that came out of this tragic event.Published 11 months ago by Mo B
William Langewiesche is a liar. Capital L, small i, small a, small r, period. The absolutely most charitable explanation is that he passed off unsubstantiated rumor as fact without... Read morePublished 17 months ago by radar
Down played by the guilty , naysayers have there head up their behind if they think the accounts mentioned the missive are made upPublished 20 months ago by jonnimaz
It goes into detail about the search and rescue at the WTC site and the aftermath. IT is a great book to read.Published 20 months ago by Albert R. Grenon
Had to get this book for class, but it was a good read. Very interesting and thought provoking. Not a perfect book, or all encompassing, but an interesting perspective and... Read morePublished on December 17, 2013 by TE
Once i got started this book was tough to put down. I thought the character development and interesting focus on the deconstruction of the twin towers was well done.Published on December 3, 2013 by Kit Frost