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Man of the Hour Hardcover – April, 1999

4.0 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

David Fitzgerald is a 40-year-old English teacher with the rare ability to reach at least some of his students at a poor high school in Coney Island. But one who he can't reach is Nasser Hamdy, a Palestinian boy so scarred by hate that he joins with terrorists to plant a bomb in a school bus. A combination of accident and courage turns Fitzgerald into a media hero when he keeps most of his class from boarding the bus and then risks his life to rescue a pregnant teenager who got on early. But circumstantial factors quickly turn the tide and make Fitzgerald a prime suspect in the bombing. He is savaged by the system but never officially accused.

Blauner does everything well, from creating compelling scenes of urban terror, to making us believe in Fitzgerald as a gifted teacher, loving father, and exhausted husband. Blauner's background as a journalist also makes the media reaction within the story instantly credible--humanizing at least one member of the ravening media rat pack.

Catch Blauner's two previous thrillers: Slow Motion Riot and The Intruder, both available in paperback. --Dick Adler

From Publishers Weekly

Thorough reportage and dead-on description make Blauner's latest city-streets novel (after 1997's paperback bestseller The Intruder) as impressive for its realism as for its suspense. David Fitzgerald is a slang-talking, highly literate 40-year-old English teacher who tolerates the frustrations of working at dilapidated Coney Island High School for the sake of students like bright, conflicted Palestinian Elizabeth Hamdy. Elizabeth's older brother, Nasser, was also once in Fitzgerald's class. Unreachable and full of hatred for America and Israel, he has joined a terrorist group that practices jihad, believing that even robbing a convenience store or killing a child is sanctioned by God's will. When Nasser and his fellow terrorists plant a bomb in a school bus, Fitzgerald becomes an accidental hero by preventing most of his class from entering the vehicle and then risking his life to rescue a pregnant teenager who is already on board. Circumstantial factors, however, soon reverse Fitzgerald's image and he becomes a prime suspect in the bombing, savaged by the system but never officially accused. Dysfunctional urban settings inhabited by uneasy, suspicious immigrants create a backdrop to Fitzgerald's personal drama: a marriage to a mentally unstable actress, and a deep fear that his contact with his son will be terminated. Blauner, a former journalist, writes about the media with the jaded authority of an insider. His novel looks unflinchingly at the aspects of contemporary American life that make morality a transient, relative principle. Agent, Richard Pine. 175,000 first printing; $250,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Little Brown & Co (T); 1st edition (April 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316038172
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316038171
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,489,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on February 22, 1999
Format: Hardcover
In these jaded times it sounds corny and false to say that a writer just keeps getting better and better, but in Peter Blauner's case, it's the absolute truth. Although his novels have the pacing of thrillers, I consider them to be the very best urban fiction of our age. From "Slow Motion Riot" to "Man of the Hour", Blauner has brilliantly dramatized the perils and rewards of life in urban America in a way that makes the territory his alone. If you dig a great story...if characters you'll never forget are your thing, make "Man of the Hour" the next book you read.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a book right out of today's headlines. Extremist Religious groups, Overzealous Media, Misguided youth, Violence, it's all in this book. Yet the plot brings this all together in one believable story. The author does a great job at showing each character and why they are performing such atrocities or why they have such courage to stand up for their believes. At some points you almost feel sorry for the bad guys because you know why they are in this predicament. This is a fast paced story with great characters and plot development, you will find yourself turning one page after another while you are engulfed in the story.
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Format: Paperback
Peter Blauner did a great job in writing MAN OF THE HOUR because he took a fictional story and mixed it with reality. Blauner sends the message that our lives are not set because you could be going on with your normal life and then one act can change your life forever. He shows us this through David Fitzgerald, a teacher, who begins by getting everything ready for a field trip before all of the kids get on the bus, but one girl who was pregnant. The next thing you know the bus is in flames and he is saving his student's lives.
The character that sticks in my mind is Dave Fitzgerald, because he is going through a troublesome time in his life and then the bus blows up and and makes everything worse. The way he handled the problems at first showed that he was a weak man and then later he starts to handle the situation like he has been through it before.
I expected this book to be about a building blowing up and Dave Fitzgerald saving someone. As I was reading, things that I thought wouldn't happen did happen. I believe that this book should be made into a movie because the plot was always changing and it was extremly vivid. I would recommend this book to people who like suspense, action, and thrillers book because MAN OF THE HOUR has it all.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Jihad comes to New York in Blauner's "Man Of The Hour," a Richard Jewell-like story of heroism gone sour. Enthusiastic inner-city English teacher David Fitzgerald saves his class from a terrorist bomb, becoming a feted media-darling until circumstances paint him as the prime suspect and his life is savaged more brutally than it was ever celebrated.

The reader knows from the beginning that tormented Nasser Hamdy, one of Fitzgerald's former students, is the bomber. Blauner's sympathetic and suspenseful portrayal of him shows youth manipulated by hatred, fanaticism and a desperation to belong.

Nasser, conflicted about murdering innocents, has numerous opportunities to reject his cell's escalating terrorism. His actions remain in doubt until the very end.

Fitzgerald teaches a "hero in literature" course, his father was a war hero but a cold man; he has always wondered how he would react in a perilous situation. Blauner's account of the teacher's overwhelming fear as smoke pours from the bombed bus and his sense of all eyes upon him, urging him to save his trapped student until he feels he has no choice, seems convincing, if not glorious. The same is true for his response to media attention and the let down as it fades.

But the story really takes off when the focus of attention is reversed. Gleefully brutalized by the media and the police, Fitzgerald succumbs to numb despair until the plight of his young son (already trapped between his unstable mother and the failure of his parents' marriage) rallies him to resist.

Meanwhile, the bombers are gearing up for another try.

Blauner ("Slow Motion Riot," "The Intruder") paints a vivid picture of an ordinary man reaching into the best and worst his soul has to offer to surmount insurmountable odds. The reader can't help but wonder how he or she would fare, given a similar nightmare.
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Format: Kindle Edition
With this, my second Blauner book, I notice his technique of twisting up his readers with anxiety, and that is because he has his protagonists make lame statements when questioned by police or lawyers in court that sound guilty. You find yourself wishing the person had spoken more concisely instead of beating around the bush. For instance, David Fitzgerald in Man of the Hour tells the cops that he didn't want to "lose" his students when he kept them off the bus, when what he meant was he was going to do roll call before they boarded. Blauner pulled the same stunt when in The Last Good Day he had Sally on the witness stand sounding confused and devious. I wonder if anyone else noticed this device of the author's.

Nasser, the young man transplanted from Palestine to New York State -- Coney Island, no less -- is such a poor fit in the New World that it would have been kinder to let him remain in the refugee camp overseas. The narrative goes on to delineate the huge divisions in culture until something must go up in flames. The media does not come off well here, as usual.

Anyway, I enjoyed being tied up in knots and applaud the author for using this trick, and expect to find similar in his next book.
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