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Rescue Men Hardcover – January 29, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Author (The Last Man; Keep Faith, Change the Church) and former Boston Globe journalist Kenney uses the events of Boston's 1942 Cocoanut Grove Fire ("the greatest fire in the city's history"), to which his grandfather responded as a rescuer, to frame his account of the role firefighting played in the lives of the Kenneys over three generations ("the arc of a story that began and ended with the Grove but contained within it a story of our family"). Because Kenney himself never was part of the "amazing brotherhood" of firefighters, much of his narrative stays at arm's length, relying on documentary-style narrative techniques that maintain an air of authority but mitigate the pathos of the personal. However, the technical descriptions of firefighting, the gripping accounts of fire-related rescues and the sketches of men in love with sacrifice are well handled and moving. In addition, Kenney's ability to weave the story of six brothers growing up in blue-collar Boston, raised by a firefighting veteran father and a bootstrapping granddad, into a tapestry of great social change (WWII, civil rights, integration of schools and the fire department, 9/11) makes for an engaging tale. By the time a Kenney brother is sent as a rescuer to the World Trade Center, the family story and the social one are concluded with fulfilling thematic unity. (Feb.)
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"A compelling family memoir about what it's really like to be a firefighter." -- Quincy Patriot-Ledger, February 20, 2007
"A vivid, readable account of the dangers and bravery inherent in emergency services and inherent in [Kenney's] family." -- Library Journal, February 15, 2007
"Brilliant...It's a MUST read... a perfect gift for anyone interested in firefighters, firefighting, or Boston Fire Department history!" -- Firefighter Blog (firefighterblog.blogspot.com), March 15, 2007
"a profoundly moving, multi dimensional story. It's a sweeping, impressively researched history....It is ferociously beautiful book about families." -- Boston Globe, March 27, 2007
Top customer reviews
As a firefighter for a city just north of Boston; I found this book to be very good for many reasons. First it was about fires I remember hearing about. I was not alive for some of them, but I did hear about them from men in the fire service. I am also intrigued by the local nature of this book. I know many of the locations described throughout the book. I can remember the scenes that he paints.
As some other reviews indicate there is some jumping around but then again Kenney does a decent job of staying on track. I viewed it more of parallel stories. He would talk about something happening in his actual family and then tell a story about a major event happening in the "other" family the BFD.
So as a member of the fire service and the local community I can offer a somewhat bias opinion. The book is good and even better if you get it for a bargain.
His father's struggles both with alcohol and his desire to solve the mystery of the origin of the Coconut Grove fire are particularly fascinating and heart breaking at times. He does keep himself out of the story but as he is a reporter that actually works to the benefit of the story in my opinion. If you want to read a book written from the heart and that doubles as good history read this book.