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A disquieting retelling of 9/11 by one survivor with a surprising twist.

The story of the startling disclosure of a 9/11 survivor who wasn’t actually there.

Fisher (Narrative Journalism/Rutgers Univ.; After the Fire, 2008, etc.) and filmmaker Guglielmo team up to bring readers a page-turning account of Tania Head, a survivor of the World Trade Center attacks. Vivid details place readers at the scene of 9/11 during and after the attacks, which may be painful reading for some readers. Injured when one of the planes struck the 78th-floor sky lobby of the South Tower, Head not only survived this near-death experience but also bore the tragedy of losing her new husband in the collapse of the North Tower. She rose to acclaim in the years after 9/11 by starting the World Trade Center Survivors’ Network, where guilt-laden men and women could openly voice their distress about the events of that day. Head also helped lead the campaign to save the Survivor Stairway, “thirty-seven steps that had once connected the plaza outside the towers to the street below,” which was used by hundreds fleeing the buildings on 9/11. However, as the narrative progresses, readers begin to see small discrepancies in Head’s story, along with her terrible mood swings and violent physical reactions to reliving that fateful day. Under extreme pressure to conduct an interview with the New York Times in 2007, Head broke down, and her elaborate and fake story fully emerged. She soon disappeared. Members of the Survivors’ Network were left to wonder why someone would go to such lengths to gain notoriety, especially when it involved so many who had survived real damage on that day.

A disquieting retelling of 9/11 by one survivor with a surprising twist.

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-5208-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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