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Heart of a Soldier Paperback – June 2, 2003

4.7 out of 5 stars 80 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author Stewart (Den of Thieves) aims to capture the enormity of the World Trade Center attack by retracing one of the lives lost in the disaster: that of Rick Rescorla, head of security for Morgan Stanley. From the late 1980s on, Rescorla tried to warn Port Authority officials that the World Trade Center was an easy target for terrorists. On September 11, after safely evacuating the Morgan Stanley offices in the south tower (he kept people calm by singing into his megaphone), Rescorla went back into the building minutes before it collapsed to search for stragglers. This wasn't his first selfless act of bravery: a Vietnam veteran, Rescorla won a Silver Star and other medals for his role in the Ia Drang valley an important American victory, but one whose devastating losses turned Rescorla against the war. Piecing together the recollections of, among others, Rescorla's widow, Susan, his best friend and fellow soldier, Daniel Hill, to narrate Rescorla's life story, Stewart also weaves in Susan's, and describes the Rescorlas' blissful mid-life relationship, a second marriage for both. Stewart's narrative is fast-paced, fluid and impressively detailed, though not without cliches. It's an absorbing and at times inspiring profile in courage, yet the book has the feel of an extended magazine piece.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Heart of a Soldier peels back many layers of human phenomena we struggle to understand: the qualities of leadership, the depths of loyalty, the dilemmas of love. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The best nonfiction book of 2002. (Time)

Engaging and illuminating. (Jonathan Yardley The Washington Post Book World)

Humming with tension, foreign adventure, and the clash of arms, Heart of a Soldier has all the ingredients of an Indiana Jones movie. (The Baltimore Sun)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Revised ed. edition (June 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743244591
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743244596
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #241,229 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on November 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
We have all seen and been deeply affected by the pages and pages of short biographies (and pictures) of those who perished on September 11, 2001 in the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and aboard the hijacked planes. This wonderful book is about one of those people, his best friend, David Hill, and his last wife and soul-mate, Susan.
I didn't know the name of Rick Rescorla, although I have since found that I have a friend who fought with him at Ia Drang and thinks highly of him. When I heard the news stories describing a man who had been a hero in that battle and then died saving others on 9/11 I wanted to read more about him. I think you not only enjoy this book, you will be moved by his story.
It isn't a fairy tale, but it reads like one. Here is a poor kid from Cornwall, UK who heads to Africa to fight, becomes friends with an American soldier. He then joins the US Army, fights in Vietnam, becomes a US citizen. His life ends in the fall of the South Tower.
Mr. Rescorla's life, like ours, had its peaks and valleys. He was a hero, no doubt about it. But he also had parts of his life that didn't work out as well as he had hoped with ordinary failings (again, just like us). The difference is, that when the call came, he heard the call to duty, and putting others first, went back into the building when he could have gotten out. In doing so, he perished. As you read this book it will be clear why.
What is especially nice about this book is that the reason you will know why he tried to save others isn't a comic book version of heroism. It isn't just Mr. Rescorla's nobility and intrinsic heroism, though there is plenty of that in my view. It also came out of his own sense of who he was and his sense of what he needed to do.
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By A Customer on December 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Wow, Rick. It's hard to believe it's been over a year since you left us in your final act of selflessness. Reminds me of how I met you back in 1992. The tire on my '78 Bug exploded, and I was stranded on the side of the road during rush hour. Horns honking at me, no one willing to help out an old man, and here you come. Smiling and waving, and all set to change the spare and then follow me home to make sure I get there alright. Since then, there were visits to my home with meals, offers to do laundry, fix my roof, and so on. And of course you helped me through the loss of my wife, crying with me, laughing and looking through old photographs, listening for the 1000th time as I tell you about the birth of our only child (you became like my second child). I love you and miss you. As Jack said, "You make me want to be a better man."
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Format: Hardcover
After reading "We Were Soldiers Once and Young" and going to the LZ-XRAY web site I found out about the soldier on the cover of we were soldiers once and young. His name was Rick Rescorla. A few more digs into the history behind the photo I learned that Rick had died in the world trade center on 09-11-01 helping to save 2,700 of his fellow employee's. This book is a very good read as to the life of Rick Rescorla and I simply could not put it down reading the entire book in the last 48 hours. A hero that survived the Ia drang valley in Vietnam in November 1965 and numerous other military battles lost his life as a hero on 09-11-01. Rick Rescorla was a true leader in military and should set an example for others to follow. It's a shame we have not heard of Rick or the things that he has done prior to his death. Dan Hill the long time friend of Rick is also another hero of this story. If you want a book that will grab you then by all means this is the one for you. Author James Stewart has outdone himself.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book a year ago and never read it. When I picked it up I assumed I was reading a story of 9/11. But a small portion of this book covers the 9/11 incident. In fact, for the first 50 pages, the book was rather boring and I couldn't understand where it was going. It starts in Africa where two soldiers meet and develop a bond. Then it jumps to a college student who is studying in Portugal and refuses to have an affair with a married man. Where is this book going?
But after this backfill, the book really supercharges. Over half of the book covers Rescorla and Hill's military career, from work in Africa to rejoining the Army in time for Vietnam. In Rescorla's case, he wasn't even an American. They are both exceptional heroes and reading of their battles is very inspiring. It's also interesting to watch their views of the war change as they view the carnage. Although I had read "They Were Soldiers Once...", I did not remember Rescorla's name so it was fascinating to revisit his involvement and performance.
When the book leaves the military section but prior to the 9/11 event, there is an interesting section where Hill and Rescorla struggle with their identity as veterans of Vietnam, Rescorla particularly. But possibly the most fascinating part of this book is Hill's prediction of the next wave of terrorist attacks and what they would target. Hill participated in the Muslim religion including trips to Afghanistan and presented the FBI with an interesting proposal about Osama Bin Laden prior to 9/11.
And that's what makes this book so compelling. These two men touched four continents but seemed to always be involved in fascinating history that concludes with 9/11.
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