Dennis Smith spent 18 years as a New York firefighter, a fact which shapes and informs this powerful book.
The first 179 pages are testimonials in the manner of Studs Terkel; they’re obviously transcribed from interviews, but Smith has edited his questions out and presents them as stories. Most of the stories are told by firefighters, and virtually all of them occur on September 11 at the World Trade Center. Fascinating and scary stuff. Several of the witnesses were inside the North Tower when it collapsed.
The second half of the book is Smith’s daily diary of events over the first sixty days after the attack. There’s some interesting stuff in there, but the book might have been stronger if it only contained the interviews.
This review was originally published on LibraryThing.