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Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11


Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11

On the morning of September 11, 2001, only a handful of people knew that tragedy ---  a pre-planned, carefully calculated tragedy --- was ahead for America. By 10:30am, 19 terrorists would have used, as author and journalist Mitchell Zuckoff describes, four airliners as missiles to destroy and end lives. Nearly 3,000 individuals were killed as a result of the attacks. Tens of thousands more would live with terrible and sometimes fatal diseases after assisting in rescue and recovery, or by simply surviving horrific injuries. The utter scope of 9/11 is enormous, and many of us collectively remember that day as a whole event, not knowing the details or the names of most of those who were directly affected.

Zuckoff, who worked for the Boston Globe at the time, began reporting on 9/11 immediately. In the years since, he has continued to write about it, starting with “Six Lives” (six people who caused or were affected by the hijacking of American Airlines Flight 11 and its attack on the North Tower of the World Trade Center), which is intended to commemorate those who were lost. FALL AND RISE grew out of that piece, using investigation, interviews, a moment-by-moment timeline, and narration of the actual events, words and records of the day. The book is an incredible, readable and inspiring account of the real individuals who survived --- or were lost --- that day, and offers some insight into the origins of al-Qaeda’s jihad against America.

" incredible book that honors the victims of the attacks, their rescuers and the loved ones who were left behind while sharing the truths about that tragic day."

FALL AND RISE begins with a short description of Osama bin Laden and his declaration of war against America. Then the events of the day unfold in two main segments --- the four airplanes and their pilots, flight attendants, passengers and the hijackers; and the individuals in and around the World Trade Center’s towers and the Pentagon, as well as at the field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. It closes with the aftermath of the attacks in the lives of the survivors and the relatives and friends of the victims themselves.

We walk through the day as American Airlines Flight 11 pilot Captain John Ogonowski rises and gets ready to do his job; as Major Kevin Nasypany heads to work in air defense in Rome, New York; as the 56 passengers of United Airlines Flight 175 board the plane; as passengers like Brian Sweeney and Peter Hanson are able to speak to their families via Airfone after they understand that it’s likely the hijackers are going to crash the planes; as employees and staff in the Pentagon, and the North and South Towers, feel the aircrafts’ collisions with their buildings. We experience the heroism of police officers and firefighters, as well as ordinary people, who rescue, assist and save others.

When I received FALL AND RISE, I was somewhat daunted by its size: 461 pages, plus another 126 that list each and every person killed on September 11th (as well as extensive notes, a timeline of the day’s events and an index). However, I ended up reading the entire book in a day and a half, unable to put it down. A compelling and engrossing read, it is also an important one, as conspiracy theorists continue to deny that 9/11 ever happened and some in the public eye tend to minimize its significance on America. As I read the stories of so many individuals whose lives were cut short or directly impacted by the terrorists, I kept hoping that this one would live, that that one wouldn’t die, even as I knew that most of the Americans I was meeting on these pages were not going to survive. It was heartbreaking and moving.

FALL AND RISE should be required reading in high school and college history classes, as well as have a place in every library and bookstore. Although it was devastating to absorb, I could not put it down, and I sincerely believe that I will read it again. It is an incredible book that honors the victims of the attacks, their rescuers and the loved ones who were left behind while sharing the truths about that tragic day.

Reviewed by Melanie Reynolds on May 3, 2019

Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11
by Mitchell Zuckoff

  • Publication Date: September 8, 2020
  • Genres: History, Nonfiction
  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial
  • ISBN-10: 0062275658
  • ISBN-13: 9780062275653