- Series: An Advocate Books Life Story
- Paperback: 216 pages
- Publisher: Advocate Books; 1st edition (September 1, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1555837808
- ISBN-13: 978-1555837808
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,784,593 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Hero of Flight 93: Mark Bingham (An Advocate Books Life Story) Paperback – September 1, 2002
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Ultimately the impact of this book is muted solely by the fact that no words can adequately reproduce the impact of the attacks that changed America forever, and too many facts tend to obscure, rather than clarify, the subject and its attendant emotions. The short quote from Mark Bingham about his philosophy of life near the end of the book, as related by one of his friends, is more moving in context than anything else. If you know what I'm talking about, it's not necessary to read the rest; if you don't, it's worth buying the book just to read that.
I was shocked and sickened a year ago when I first saw Mark's picture on TV and realized that it was the young man who had spent many visits with me in 1990 confiding, sharing and talking with me about life while wrestling with his deepest secret - his sexuality. I posted my memories of him as a farewell to the markbingham.org website his friends established and because of that was contacted by a number of people who wished to interview me about Mark's life in addition to his first peek out of "the closet". I declined all of these requests except Barrett's because of the caliber of his work as a reporter. His article in the December 2001 Advocate is just a taste of this full-length work.
What Jon has done is present an accurate, even-handed and thorough portrait of a young man's life that is as engaging, compelling and entertaining as Mark himself could be. Through extensive insightful interviews with Mark's friends and family (not merely quotes lifted from existing sources as some have tried) the book makes the important point that Bingham was a hero who happened to be gay, and not "just" a Gay Hero.
What's really striking about this biography is how very normal Mark Bingham was. He was nicer than a lot of people, and he did show a protective instinct all of his life; once he attacked a mugger to protect his friends from him. But aside from this, he was a fairly ordinary young man with career successes and failures behind him, working and having fun with his friends and wondering if he was doing the right thing with his life and if he was ever going to find a life partner.
It was also a little amusing that the biographer tried to gloss over one of the few qualities in Mark Bingham that would be likely to offend some: he was a "bear" and like some conventionally masculine gay men, effeminate gay men bothered him. Barrett mentions this as briefly as he can and then emphasizes the more tolerant comments Bingham made about effeminate gay men, trying to imply that Bingham knew his distaste for them was wrong and was striving to overcome it. Maybe that's true, but I could see that Barrett was concerned that this bit of personal taste might prejudice gay readers against him.
All in all, it's a good and balanced study of an ordinary man who became a hero because the opportunity sought him out. It's inspiring to know that such an ordinary man can be so heroic.
September 11, 2001, brought many heroes forth. I do not think people in our nation really knew what others would do for others and and what cost to themselves. Mark's selfless acts were a modest reflection of the many things he did for others.
His story is extremely well told and will give you more insight into the day will now think of as, Patriot Day. He was truly a patriot. His actions and those of all the people on board Flight 93 have given us hope since they fought the first battle against terrorism.