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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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“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
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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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!!
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.
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 is Benfante's account of not only what happened to him on that tragic day, but what happened to him in the ten years since September 11th, 2001.
Benfante became a celebrity for his actions on September 11th; he was showered with awards, feted on the Oprah Winfrey Show, and mentioned in a speech by the President of the United States. Almost one year to the day Benfante got married with the woman in the wheelchair as a guest at his wedding.
But while all this was going on, Benfante was grappling with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. He refused to go get therapy and kept his feelings inside. He resorted to alcohol and other ways to keep his demons at bay.
This book is gripping. I really felt as if I was on the journey with him down the stairs of the World Trade Center. I was shocked when I realized that even after they got out of the building, he was almost killed by the tower collapsing. For some time he had no idea what had happened to the woman in the wheelchair.
Benfante has written this book as a kind of catharsis to finally come to grips with what happened on that day. The book is touching and he is unflinching as he admits that he hasn't always handled things very well.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Alpha and Omega; I really loved the beginning of this book. Mike begins with telling us about his wonderful family, I just loved being introduced to his great family growing... Read morePublished 2 days ago by Sa N
I am glad I picked it up a a kindle Daily Deal at a steep discount. I have mixed feelings about this read. It was good...but just not awesome. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Never on Monday
Loved this book.
What a wonderful insight to that horrible day in America.
God bless you Michael Benfante.
I enjoyed this book. A different perspective of the events of 9/11, revealing the aftermath and emotional effect on the author, of living through the trauma of the day. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Bal4
This was a very good book, it wasn't as depressing as you would have thought.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is such a thought provoking personal account by a 911 survivor. He is so very honest about all of his experiences, both good and bad. Read morePublished 2 months ago by mary l
It would take more than 20 words to describe this book. He speaks the truth about us. We as a people can sometimes become very shallow and forget our fellow man. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Judy Lane
I was pulled through so many surprising emotions while reading this man's survival of one of the worst days in America's history. Read morePublished 3 months ago by P.U. - Patty Underwood