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Report from Ground Zero: The Story of the Rescue Efforts at the World Trade Center Hardcover – March 18, 2002

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Editorial Reviews Review

"There is no center to this day, no middle or end. All its remaining minutes and hours will be collapsed into that single instant at 8:48 a.m. when September 11, 2001, became the saddest day of our history," writes Dennis Smith, a retired New York City firefighter. Shortly after the two planes hit the World Trade Center towers, he volunteered to help in the rescue effort. In this diary of the three months following the attack, Smith combines his own observations with interviews of those involved in the work, creating a detailed day-by-day history of the massive effort to find life among the ruins. His 18 years of experience in the field and considerable writing skills (he is the author of Report from Engine Co. 82 and nine other books) make him uniquely qualified to cover these events. To say the book is moving is an understatement--it is often overwhelming and difficult to read. Report from Ground Zero exacts an emotional toll on the reader; writing it must have been heartbreaking. In chronicling the hope, courage, and compassion embodied by all of the rescue workers, Smith has performed yet another service to his country. Note: A portion of the proceeds from sales of the book will be contributed by the author and publisher to the Foundation for American Firefighters. --Shawn Carkonen

From The New Yorker

The first-person narratives in this account of the rescue efforts at the World Trade Center constitute a tremendously powerful chronicle of September 11th. The language of the firefighters and police officers is blunt and vivid, the details are sharply etched, and the fractured stories—particularly of those who were inside the towers but somehow escaped—offer a Cubist vision of the day's chaos. The book's description of the disaster's aftermath is less successful: Smith conveys the ritualistic and sacramental nature of the search for the victims' remains, but he lapses too frequently into sentimentality and abstract meditations on patriotism and courage. The author, who also wrote the gripping "Report from Engine Co. 82," does best when he lets the images speak for themselves: the airplane luggage scattered across the plaza; the waves of firemen disappearing into the stairwells; the indelible sound—"like an M-80 firecracker," one man says—of bodies hitting the ground; and the moment when suddenly there was "nothing but dust."
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 366 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; 1st edition (March 18, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067003116X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670031160
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #760,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dennis Smith most recently has founded in Manila an international social media website:
In his 18 years as a New York City firefighter, he developed profound respect for the professionalism of the firefighters, police officers, EMTs, and nurses with whom he worked in the more than 40 alarms his engine company responded to every day. He witnessed their willingness to give of themselves in the course of their duty. The most important lesson about this dangerous occupation is to know that you can go one way and save a life, or you can go the other way and possibly lose your own. Prudence, experience and instinct provide the way.
In 2001, Dennis, who had spent half of his life in the emergency service, and the other half writing books, responded to the attack on the world trade center, arriving there just as the second building fell. He stayed for 57 consecutive days, first in rescue work and then in recovery. In the following year he wrote "Report from Ground Zero" which rose to the top of the best seller lists. He has since written San Francisco is Burning, and A Decade of Hope. Of Love and Courage, a book that has its ending set in Manila. It is his 17th book.
Dennis Smith's experience and reputation make him powerfully and uniquely able to represent the interests and needs of emergency professionals and departments. His remarkable career as firefighter, best-selling author, magazine publisher, business leader, and director of important youth serving and emergency-service not-for-profits provides him with a sound point of view about what is needed to make the world better and more dramatically connected.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Matthew M. Yau on March 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is book is not easy to read. It will pound your heart and make you broken. When the two airplanes fatally hit the World Trade Center twin tower at 8:48 am and 9:03 am, history and landscape of this country changed eternally. The assasination of beloved president John F. Kennedy defined the baby boomer generation. September 11 strikes all of us and sadly defines our current generation with the same caliber. Dennis Smith was among the first crew who arrived at ground zero and participated in the rescue efforts. Smith is a retired firefighter who had been with the New York Fire Department for 18 years. He has written a vivid and stunning account on the day-by-day rescue efforts at ground zero immediately after the attack. Smith himself attended the injured and sifted through deris and rubbles for signs of life. The book serves as a testimony as well as an honorable salutation to the policemen and firefighters who sacrificed their lives to the country. Without these heroes, the casualties could have soared as high as 6000. Smith's account is much needed but hard for anyone to take. The account is needed so we, as Americans, can once again be unified and be bold against terrorism. Shall the nation not come close and unify, those who have fought bravely up in the front, all the firefighters and policeman, they would have died for nothing. Smith's report from the ground zero weaves together his own daily accounts, stories from other rescue members, and families that lost their loved ones on September 11. This book fills with passion, tears, boldness, and a call for Americans to unified. May God bless America. United We Can Stand.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Lizzie on April 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I was very much against picking up any books about the events of September 11th, due to the fact that I felt most would just be the same stuff I had read online and in magazines, but this book really was a wonderful and tough read.
Dennis Smith is a amazing storyteller. He went and asked many of the firefighters who had survived the attacks to describe the events to him and some of the storys that were told were very tear-jerking and tough to read. Some of the storys that the firefighters told will be stuck in my head forever.
I loved how he did the first part of the book with the storys of the firefighters and there storys and then how in the second half of the book he described the days and weeks following the events. All the firehouses he visited and the time he spent at Ground Zero helping to find fallen brothers and other people who died in this attack and also the funnerals and memorials he went to for some of the firefighters.
I don't think there will be many books about Sept 11th that will live up to this one. This one was beautiful and sad and many other things all together in one book.
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33 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A.Trendl VINE VOICE on March 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"Report from Ground Zero: The Story of the Rescue Efforts at the World Trade Center" by Dennis Smith provides a poetic-journalistic look at a tragedy which still continues to shake America. You'll find the book stronger in intensity than any photographic collection of September 11, 2001.
His descriptions are more than photo-realistic versions of what he saw, but brings forth the anguish and passion, and the smell of wet ash and burning debris. Smith manages to connect with the reader beyond the hype and politics. You will not be able to read this unaffected.
The people in the high-rises, on the planes, and the policemen and fireman all were real people. Even the foolish young men who hijacked the planes, the ones who believe Bin Laden... all real people who died pointlessly. Smith draws out the real, draws out the essence as well as the actual accounts of the awful events.
I fully recommend "Report from Ground Zero: The Story of the Rescue Efforts at the World Trade Center" by Dennis Smith.
Anthony Trendl
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Prior to this book, Dennis Smith was a fabulous writer and editor of Firehouse Magazine. He is a firefighter and was on the scene soon after the WTC Towers collapsed. He knew many of the men who were killed, and he knows many of the living. He knew Chief Ganci and Father Mychal Judge. He also knows the politicians. What Mr. Smith has done is put together a masterpiece of grief. He has taken the firefighters' own words to tell their stories and he has connected the stories, so for instance, if one firefighter talks about Fireman X being lost in the collapse, he then finds another firefighter who was with that fireman, or who last saw him.
I wanted to read a book about the WTC without rubbernecking. Although many books have been published in the months following the attack, this is without a doubt, the definative book. The grief and suffering of the families is so great, that I was not able to read this book for more than 20 pages at a time, without taking a long break to cry for the firefighters, police, EMS workers and their families. Mr. Smith points out to the lay person that Duty and Sacrifice come together for these men women, that the firefighters never questioned their duty. That the surviving firefighters would go into another tower again, after all they say, you cannot leave people in a building who need help, explains their heart and soul. After reading this book, I do not believe that you will ever view a firefighter, policeman or EMS worker the same. There are some very graphic scenes in this book about body parts and this book is not for the squemish. It presents ground zero from the day of the attack until months after and it will probably been one of the books that historians will look to when remembering this tragic and awful attack.
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