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On Top of the World: Cantor Fitzgerald, Howard Lutnick, and 9/11: A Story of Loss and Renewal Paperback – August 14, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (August 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060510307
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060510305
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,251,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the attacks of September 11, 2001, 658 of New York brokerage firm Cantor Fitzgerald's 1,000 New York employees were killed. Immediately following the events, author Tom Barbash traveled to New York to profile his college friend, Cantor CEO Howard Lutnick, and chronicle the firm's struggles to stay in business and help its employees' families. The result, On Top of the World, is a compulsively readable book that is difficult to categorize. Unlike many books about the attacks, its story goes well beyond September 11 and into the following year, helping to better demonstrate the human impact of the catastrophe. And while the book ably describes the horror of the events, it is as much a business study as anything: can a company that trades $200 billion a day in commodities futures survive the sudden death of over 65 percent of its New York employees, and its New York headquarters? Cantor Fitzgerald does endure, but soon Lutnick becomes the center of a media firestorm as Connie Chung, Bill O'Reilly from Fox News, and others question the sincerity of Lutnick's public appearances and denounce his method of compensating the families of those lost. Barbash, a novelist by trade, portrays his friend's struggles sympathetically but also provides well-researched dimension to the other people involved, which helps deepen the human drama of the efforts on the part of all involved to put their lives and their company back together. --John Moe --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Cantor Fitzgerald's chair and CEO discusses not just the events of September 11 when nearly 700 members of his firm lost their lives but also the firm's rise to power and the efforts afterward to rethink the future.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Customer Reviews

All I can say is WOW.
Pinky88
This is a story of incredible strength and love while overcoming unimaginable obstacles.
Christine Spirawk
Mr. Lutnik this book is so well worth the read!
Louise A. Celio

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Living in NYC and having a cousin who worked and died at Cantor Fitzgerald, i was interested to read about that day and what the company did afterwards......I couldn't put the book down. What an amazing story of perserverance in such a time of sadness and shock. You realize while reading this what a bum deal Howard Lutnick got at first from the media, when he was doing everything in his power to keep the business going so that the victims could get money while at the same time mourning his brother, best friend and 656 of his employees.
This book also has stories of others at Cantor who weren't at the building at the time of the attack due to a missed train, a meeting or vacation. There is also the stories of the phone calls from those in the building to other Cantor offices and families.
This book has it all, it will make you cry, it will make you remember and most of all it will make you feel proud to see a company survive due to the sheer determination of its CEO and surviving employees to make sure that the families of their dead collegues are taken care of.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This well-written, easy-to-read book follows the ordeal of Cantor Fitzgerald, which lost more than 600 people in the World Trade Center attacks. The company was at the top of the first tower, right under Windows on the World and no one who was in the office at that time escaped. Fortunately, Howard Lutnick, who ran the company, went in late that day because it was his son's first day of kindergarten. He lost his only brother, his best friend and obviously a huge percentage of his employees in the attack. Lutnick, who before Sept. 11, had a barracuda-like reputation, was first exalted then vilified by the press (and the survivors of his murdered employees) after the attacks. (Largely because he stopped the employees' paychecks while families were still in denial.) The book follows him as he struggles to do the right thing -- which ultimately is keeping the company alive so that 25% of its profits can go to the survivors. A lot of people get fixated on the paycheck issue but it's obvious that if Lutnick had also died in this attack, the company would have gone under and there would have been no money at all. The book also describes many of the personalities at Cantor and the ways they interacted in a much more real way than the NYT Portraits of Grief. The full list of the dead is at the front of the book -- the fact that there are pages and pages of names from just this one company is horrifying. It's really a fine tribute to the strength of a bunch of spirited people, both living and deceased.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jim McClafferty on January 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
A good friend of mine worked at Cantor Fitzgerald and was among those lost on September 11th. I read this book in one sitting - I couldn't put it down. The devastation that this event caused to the people of Cantor Fitzgerald who lost so many of their family members and friends is astonishing. 955 children who lost parents, twenty sets of siblings who perished. I found that I wanted to be part of the team of people that tried to rebuild the company and help the families of those who were lost.
I'll never look back on September 11th the same.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By D. Martin on February 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First of all "On Top of the World" would not have been able to have been written if Howard Lutnick had died on September 11, 2001. Cantor-Fitzgerald, as a viable company, would have died along with its 658 employees. The fact that Mr. Lutnick lived and; despite the loss of his beloved brother and most of his best friends, was able to figure out a way to bring CF and the remaining NY/England employees and systems together to save the company in JUST TWO DAYS were just outstanding. I probably would crawled into a corner for months. The book is very sad reading because of the magnitude of personal loss endured. Don't expect a happy, carefree ending. The fact that Mr. Lutnick has kept his promises and sometimes had to go above the montary amount to keep these promises shows the man has integrity despite his "reputation" on the Street. He also kept CF a viable company for his surviving employees. Good for you Mr. Lutnick, your wife, your sister, your friends and to Mr. Barbash for writing your story.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By S. Sullivan on February 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Howard Lutnick has been vilified in the press and on TV - I found his grief on TV deeply moving and have had no reason since to doubt his sincerity. The book shows Mr. Lutnick personally and deeply challenged by the terrible tragedy that was 9/11. I recommend reading this book. Give the man a chance.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Miles on July 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I was unfamiliar with Mr. Lutnick or his company before 9/11 as I do not work in the investment arena. However, like many Americans, I was glued to the screen during the tragedy on that date and during the aftermath.
For me, that day held a dual personal note in that I have personally spent lots of time at the Trade Center when in NYC on business (the WTC Marriott was always my hotel choice), I actually had visited my brother's office there at the Trade Center with my 2 year old daughter a week to the day before the attack (for the Labor Day holiday).
My brother works for Merrill Lynch, and on that day, I was uncertain for hours whether he had survived. Fortunately, he did. Therefore, unlike many on the West Coast,due to my brother's proximity to the situation, I felt particularly attached to the tragedy. Thankfully, I fortunately do not share the fact of loss of a loved one on 9/11. Nevertheless, I felt keenly what that loss would be like during the several hours that I feared that I had lost my brother.
All of this is to say that -- I know how difficult it must be for Mr. Lutnick to have lost his brother and close friends yet bear responsibility for keeping his company afloat in the midst of grieving.
I am an employee benefits/employment law attorney and when I saw Mr. Lutnick on television that first night indicating that he would "take care of the families" I immediately thought -- does he realize what a commitment he is making? From a purely legal standpoint, his promise was far outside of his actual liability under the circumstances. It was clear to me that his promises were stated without benefit of legal advice -- simply from his sense of personal loss and sense of responsibility.
From that point, I have followed the news on Cantor as Mr.
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More About the Author

Tom Barbash is the author of the award-winning novel The Last Good Chance and the non-fiction book On Top of the World: Cantor Fitzgerald, Howard Lutnick, and 9/11; A Story of Loss and Renewal, which was a New York Times bestseller. His stories and articles have been published in Tin House, McSweeney's, Virginia Quarterly Review, and other publications, and have been performed on National Public Radio's Selected Shorts series. He currently teaches in the MFA program at California College of the Arts. He grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and now lives in Marin County, California.