Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center Paperback – September 11, 2003
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From Publishers Weekly
Langewiesche had unrestricted access to Manhattan's Ground Zero during the post-September 11 cleanup, and his triptych of articles (originally published in the Atlantic Monthly) takes readers through what became known to its denizens as the Pile, from the moment of destruction to the departure of the last truckload of rubble from the ruins a little less than nine months later. He gives a calm, precise account of the air traffic controllers trying to understand what was happening to the hijacked planes and explains precisely how the towers collapsed. The stars of the rest of this story are people one doesn't usually read about: administrators, engineers and construction workers in charge of the cleanup-a process in which, as Langewiesche describes it, order emerged from chaos by the sheer force of will of those in charge. One such outsize personality is David Griffin, a demolition expert who drove up from North Carolina, bluffed his way onto the restricted site, and quickly wound up in a position of authority. There's also a frank account of the tensions between police and firefighters at Ground Zero. Most fascinating, though, Langewiesche takes readers right inside the smoking Pile, as he joins workers on dangerous underground expeditions to see whether the slurry walls that keep out the Hudson will hold, or whether freon might be leaking from underground refrigerators. This is a genuinely monumental story, told without melodrama, an intimate depiction of ordinary Americans reacting to grand-scale tragedy at their best-and sometimes their worst.
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
“Slim but powerful . . . truth, unclouded by sentiment.” ―The New York Times Book Review
“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
Visit the store for new Blazing Hot Toys and Watch Fireman Sam on Amazon Instant Video. Learn more
Top customer reviews
William Langewiesche is an excellent essayist and reporter, and managed to both situate himself in the middle of the rebuilding- the only writer to do so- and to be a neutral enough observer that he was able to tell the story from all perspectives. The public story- the heroism of the firefighters and police, the harmony on the site- dosn't quite hold up in Langewiesche's telling. We see internecine fighting, looting, distrust, and outright hostilkity between different groups competing for control of the site and for glory in the minds of the public.
But we also see an extraordinary effort by almost all concerned, and an operation in which public and private organizations came together to do an amazing job of cleaning up the site in record time. We also see the City of New York rising to the challange, brushing off Federal attempts to control the site, knowing that the city has more experience as disaster recovery and cleanup in its numerous contractors and building officials than the whole of FEMA. City officials and contractors came together and mapped out strategies and divided up work without waiting for approval from higher up authorities.
An excellent piece of reporting and interpreting. Highly recommended.
The book is constructed as series of short stories all linked together to show the big picture. The focus in the book is on the actual unbuilding, the deconstruction of the "pile of rubble" that was left after two planes crashed in the WTC. It is also about the different groups that existed on the site, how they worked together and, especially, how they didn't. It is about how people automatically form tribes and create rituals. It is about being human.
The story starts with a couple of stories about the unbuilding process itself, a couple of months in the cleanup. After giving the reader some view of "the pile", the author moves back in time and constructs the WTC attack from different perspectives to show the different reactions and how different people got involved in the cleanup. From there, the story mainly continues chronologically. It describes the hard parts of the cleanup. There is a lot of focus on the arguments that happened between the different groups. It ends, as it should be, with the end of the unbuilding and showing how different people has been so involved... that they will actually miss the experience.
The existing amazon reviews are worth checking. Seldom do books get an either very positive or very negative rating. This is because the book covers some sensitive issues that happened -- looting by different parties and fighting between the tribes on the site. Whether these taboos are true or not, I found the book a easy ready. The book kept me reading.
I'd rate American Ground between four and five stars. I moved to the four because it IS a good book and I thoroughly did enjoy it. Though, it is not exceptional enough to warrant five stars. I would recommend this book to anyone who would want an insight in the unbuilding of the WTC.
The book has one serious flaw though - other than a crude map of the site inside the cover, there are no photographs or illustrations at all. Even just a ten-page insert with some photos of the key people and places he describes would be a huge improvement. Trying to tell a story of this magnitude with text alone is a noble effort, but it falls short.