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Reluctant Hero: A 9/11 Survivor Speaks Out About That Unthinkable Day, What He's Learned, How He's Struggled, and What No One Should Ever Forget Hardcover – August 11, 2011


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Reluctant Hero: A 9/11 Survivor Speaks Out About That Unthinkable Day, What He's Learned, How He's Struggled, and What No One Should Ever Forget + Angel in the Rubble: The Miraculous Rescue of 9/11's Last Survivor + 9/11 Ordinary People: Extraordinary Heroes: NYC - The First Battle in the War Against Terror!
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing; First Edition edition (August 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616082852
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616082857
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #258,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Benfante’s memoir, Reluctant Hero, is a humbling and courageous one, detailing the struggle of an ordinary man who was forced to find strength he had only read about in books.” (The San Diego Union-Tribune)

“Benfante, catapulted to hero status after he was photographed carrying a wheelchair-bound woman down 68 floors and out of the World Trade Center, tells his post-9/11 tale of emotional and economic hardships and the seering guilt of a survivor.” (The Washington Post)

“Michael Benfante made national news when the media learned that he carried a wheelchair-bound woman down 68 flights of stairs in a burning World Trade Center. This memoir describes Benfante's unshakable belief that there are reservoirs of kindness waiting to be tapped.” (Houston Chronicle)

About the Author

Michael Benfante became a national hero for his actions on September 11, 2001, when he and a co-worker carried a disabled woman in a wheelchair down sixty-eight flights of stairs and out of the World Trade Center North Tower to safety, just minutes before the tower imploded. He is the recipient of a host of honors and international recognition and has testified at a U.S. Senatorial special hearing about his 9/11 experience. Benfante is a 1987 Brown University graduate. He currently lives with his wife and his son in Bloomfield, New Jersey.

Dave Hollander is an author and columnist writing on sports and social issues in national publications including The Huffington Post, AOL Sports, SI.com, and Interview. Hollander serves on the faculty for the New York University Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management. Hollander lives in New York City with his wife and daughter.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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This book has exceptional merit on so many levels.
Elizabeth K. Baker
Reading this book will leave you feeling privileged to share the life changing moments of one of the true hero's of that historic day.
Tyler Dennin
I have read several books written by 9/11 survivors.
Nancy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Trish Connolly Accetta on September 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The church library where I work recently had the opportunity to host Michael Benfante as a speaker. Many members of the congregation read the book before he came to town, and virtually everyone tore through it in one or two days. All those who came to return their copy to the library walked in open-mouthed, saying the same thing: "Wow." We own 25 copies of the book, and haven't been able to keep them on the shelves.

The first part of the book lays out Benfante's journey through hell on 9/11 in such unflinching detail that the experience felt immediate -- so much so that my heart was pounding and my hands were shaking. That being said, the real story follows what happens to Michael after the 9/11 media storm dies down. As a reader, this part of the book was equally gripping as Michael struggles through frustration, self-annihilation, anger and despair described in his down-to-earth, take-no-prisoners voice. I won't give anything away here, but Michael goes down a heartbreaking, dark path that has you pleading with him to return to the confident, charismatic, successful guy he was before 9/11, wrapping up the whole thing in a pretty bow at the end. But life is not a Hallmark card; his eventual redemption, still a work in progress, lies in a simple yet powerful message he discovers in one small, beautiful moment with his young son.

Michael's hour-long presentation at my church left his audience transformed -- a powerful word, but the only way to adequately describe his influence. People stayed behind long after Benfante departed simply to discuss with each other how affected they were by his story and his not-preachy-but-nonetheless-spiritual message.
He states that writing this book was simply meant to be a cathartic exercise for him; he seems genuinely surprised by a generally-cynical public's positive embrace. Do yourself a favor and read this book.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Richard Wrighter on August 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a beautifully written book that really nails the human condition. This should be required reading for everyone.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By invisible lasso on September 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The author, Benfante, takes the reader on an emotional journey through the moments of the attack, the immediate aftermath and the incredibly complex psychological impact in the years to follow.

On every page I felt like I had the privilege of being right inside Benfante's mind--how many times have we thought, "I wonder what was going through the minds of the survivors?" Benfante lets it all hang out and shows the two sides of being hero: the persona that the public needs and requires of him and the personal anguish of keeping all his fears and tragic remembrances to himself.

While the story of him rescuing a wheelchair bound woman, with the help of his co-worker, is fascinating and we get to follow them step-by-step out of the burning tower, the end of the book focuses on the idea of fostering a more positive minded and socially responsible world, where we look out for each other and commit acts of kindness. Benfante maintains that it was his upbringing and general attitude of always looking to help others that compelled him to rescue the woman in the wheelchair. By the end of the book, I believe it!

It was refreshing to read about the darker days he encountered in the years following 9/11. His truthful account of what its like to be a regular guy in a hero's shell shows us that we can all overcome our fears and focus on what's important: family and not taking second chances (which we all get) for granted.

I would recommend this book to everyone!!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ralph DeLuccia on September 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having worked for Mike at the office in the World Trade Center and knowing him as a person before and after 9/11, I thought that I had an understanding of what he had went through on that day in 2001. This book not only expanded on his life and feelings during that experience, but also shared the sometimes painful reality of living in a post-9/11 world and how to cope and move on within it. This is a story that explores deep areas of the human soul and provides inspiration and hope for a brighter tomorrow.

I highly recommend this book and express my gratitude to Mike for having the courage not only on 9/11 to do what he was nationally acclaimed for doing, but also to compile his story into this novel to share with the world and deliver a powerful message that has been lost and that many of us have since forgotten over the past 10 years.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By NJ Book Lover on August 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book was hard to put down..the author wrote in such a way that I felt I was right there during that tragic day on 9-11-01..the author and his co-worker were true heroes by carrying a disabled woman down many floors in the "North Tower"..I also enjoyed this book beacause I too, am a New Jerseyan..and in the 1st paragraph..the author comments on "going down the shore,"..but seriously,this is a very good book on that sad day..a must read!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. Brewer on November 9, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I tend to shy away from non-fiction because I find it either boring or too sad. In this case, I was very wrong. I was so glad I read this book. Michael Benfante is a storyteller, and the book reads that way. I was inspired.
This book is the story of a man reluctant to be called a hero but incapable of acting otherwise. He was, simply, raised right, and reacted in the only way he knew how to someone who needed help. He says anyone would have done the same (oh, how I want to believe him).
What touched me about this book was the author's openness. He exposes his own life and thoughts without flinching, even if he is not shown in a favorable light. This willingness to lay himself bare rings very true as does his story of the day the towers fell and the aftermath in his own life. This book feels like a conversation with the author. Well done.
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