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9/11/2010 by Dean E. Murphy Kirkus Star


An Oral History

by Dean E. Murphy

Pub Date: Aug. 27th, 2002
ISBN: 0-385-50768-2
Publisher: Doubleday

Soul-stirring firsthand accounts—terrifying transports—of living through the disasters of September 11, as told to New York Times reporter Murphy.

Murphy was one of the reporters who covered that grave day and its aftermath, and for this collection he took on the unenviable task of asking those who survived by the skin of their teeth to relive the catastrophe, plus a handful of people who, by the grace of fortune, were slow at making their morning coffee or decided to change travel plans and so missed a doomed airplane. Murphy admits to some “compositing” of the testimony, but he strove for accuracy and credibility. And the stories simply rattle, first from those who had to wait in jam-ups to get onto escalators or out the door. But those that most whiten the knuckles by far are the near-escapes. For instance, the fireman who dove into the lobby of the South Tower to escape the crumbling edifice and was buried in the rubble, or the office worker who heard the building’s public-address system say it was safe to return to work: He heard people screaming, “ ‘They’re jumping. People are jumping’. . . There was a tremendous disconnect between what was happening around me and the announcement that it was safe to go back upstairs.” Or the management services worker who had just walked out of the tower: “Just 50 yards behind me a hundred and ten stories started coming down. . . . I became buried in debris and soot. The whole place was as dark as the darkest night.” More buried people were rescued than is common knowledge, and Murphy found a handful of them.

One of the real keepers of the flurry of 9/11 publications, destined to find a place on the shelf and be turned to time and again.