Book review: ‘Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11’ by Mitchell Zuckoff

By TONI LANDIS

My husband is a retired firefighter who knew some of the New York City firefighters killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11. He refuses to read this book. When I have mentioned to others that I read it, they responded with, “I don’t know how you do it.” I have to say in reading and re-reading a number of passages, I’m not sure I myself understand the need to revisit the day and the events described.

As historian Ian Toll pointed out in reference to Pearl Harbor, “Hindsight furnishes us with perspective on the crisis, but it also undercuts our ability to empathize with the immediate concerns of those who suffered through it.” To that end, author Mitchell Zuckoff seeks to “delay the descent of 9/11 into the well of history” and “attach names to some of the people directly affected by these events.” My nephew and stepdaughter were 2-year-olds when 9/11 took place, yet for all the war effort and money spent, their generation would have very little real understanding of what took place that day without books such as this one.

One of the most powerful aspects of “Fall and Rise” is Zuckoff’s work piecing together accounts of what took place in the air and on the ground. The juxtaposition of what folks on the planes were experiencing and the reaction of their families, airline colleagues, and air traffic controllers attempting to calm and assist them demonstrates the incredible confusion of the day. At no other time in U.S. history had a coordinated, multi-plane hijacking ever taken place. It was assumed that anyone hijacking a plane would allow the pilot to continue flying it and land it safely, with hijackers making demands from the ground.

However, what Zuckoff does equally as well is create solid character sketches of all involved — pilots, flight attendants, passengers, Trade Center and Pentagon employees, firefighters and EMT, and more so than any other account I’ve read, the people in and around Shanksville, Penn. While there are a number of powerful descriptions — some incredibly touching, others incredibly disturbing — Zuckoff’s detailed review of the Shanksville crash site was harrowing, to say the least. He certainly fulfills his goal in seeking to memorialize the day.

I lived for a while on Long Island and had a friend, Darcy, who worked in the Towers. We met for lunch once in the underground mall area. The only thing I really remember is how dwarfed I felt by the height of the building, very aware of the many, many floors stretching to the sky above me. Darcy was a very early riser and most certainly would have been at work on 9/11 had she not returned to Wisconsin — as I did — in the late 90s.

As Zuckoff intends, this book stays with you. You can’t forget. You won’t forget.

Comments are closed.

  • Book review: ‘The Whistler’ by John Grisham

    April 2nd, 2020
    by

    Sheltering in place and a closed public library likely means you are running out of books.


    Book review: ‘The Magic Hour’ by Kristin Hannah

    March 25th, 2020
    by

    When one of Dr. Julia Cates’ pediatric patients committed a horrific murder, she was sued on the basis that she must have known her patient’s mental state, or if not, she should have.


    Special protocol will be followed at Wilton blood drive

    March 24th, 2020
    by

    We want to share with donors the protocol being followed at the April 4 blood drive in view of the COVID-19 outbreak.


    Book review: ‘A Place for Us’ by Fartima Farheen Mirza

    March 18th, 2020
    by

    I found this book somewhat difficult to read, yet completely worth the effort. In order to properly tell the story, it is told from the viewpoint of several of the characters and at various times in their lives, and this is intermingled throughout the novel.


    Vehicle partly submerged in Kickapoo after alcohol-related accident

    March 18th, 2020
    by

    A vehicle went off Highway 131 and into the Kickapoo River on Tuesday, and Vernon County police say alcohol was a factor in the crash.


  • Book review: ‘The Nickel Boys’ by Colson Whitehead

    March 11th, 2020
    by

    Elwood Curtis, under the watchful eye of his grandmother, was a good young man, a young man who did what he was supposed to do.


    N-O-W postpones decision on staff cuts

    March 11th, 2020
    by

    Though it had planned to vote in March on whether to cut three elementary-school teaching positions, the Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton Board of Education has postponed its decision to its April meeting.


    Brookwood to present ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ this weekend

    March 10th, 2020
    by

    Brookwood’s performances of “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” a stage adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ novel, are slated for 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the school’s Classic Gym.


    Book review: ‘A Man Lay Dead’ by Ngaio Marsh

    March 4th, 2020
    by

    The game was named “Murders.” None of the participants knew who was “it.”


    How does the Monroe County Health Department respond to disease outbreaks?

    March 2nd, 2020
    by

    With COVID-19 (coronavirus) spreading worldwide, many people are concerned about their health and wellbeing.


    Monroe County weight restrictions start Wednesday

    March 2nd, 2020
    by

    The Monroe County Highway Department will implement seasonal weight restrictions on all county trunk highways beginning Wednesday, March 4.


  • Archives