Wednesday, January 25, 2006

"102 Minutes"... Dave's Book Review

Finished a book recently, so I wanted to share it with you fine people.

Anyway, the book is called "102 Minutes" and its by Jim Dwyer and Bill Flynn. The book is an account of what went on inside the World Trade Center towers at 846am, when Tower 1 was hit, and 1028, when both towers had fallen, and the 102 minutes in between.

It uses interviews of survivors and eye witnesses, taped recordings and transmissions and histories gathered to give dozens of stories in the book. You see the story of Frank di Martini and Pablo Ortiz, two engineers in the building that had many chances to get out, but chose to continue upward to help people find a way down. They perished in the tower. Richard Fern, who had every bit of luck--or God's help--getting down, as in finding the correct staircases right away, or getting the one elevator in the building that worked, right before it stopped working.

There is the story of Ed Beyua, who had a medical condition that kept him in a wheelchair on the 27th floor, and his friend Abe, who could have left at any time, but stayed with Ed because they knew that help would come... and it did only when firemen saw them... and a breakdown in communications led some to think that others had Ed and Abe taken care of. Both perished when the tower collapsed. Considering they were on the 27th floor, and even running down the stairs for you and I would take ten minutes, and they were 900 feet below where the plane had hit, that leads us to the most disturbing part of the book.

Because of the 1993 WTC bombing, there was much anamosity between the FDNY and the NYPD over who should do what, and who should get the glory for what. This broken relationship, which should have been repaired, only furthered to deteriorate. That explains why there were dozens of new high tech radio systems in the trunks of some police cars, unused, and why joint training sessions between the two departments when highly unattended. Thats also why the police didn't try to rescue people off of the roof during the brief momentary window they had, or why there were up to 200 firemen in the North Tower, many on one floor taking a breather, getting water, unloading gear, when it fell--even though they had a warning of a few minutes that it would almost certainly collapse. No communication.

The book also goes into a brief history along the way, telling how the towers got built, and the edge-of-reproach way that the fire codes were skirted, making the first part of the building a monumental, almost indestructable section, while the top was flimsy, with sprayed on fireproofing material, and inconvenient--and it turned out deadly--exit and staircase system. But the people is what will get you. There is a list in the back of people, people accounted for in the book that perished somehow in the towers, or in Tower 7, the Marriott hotel in between 1 and 2. Everytime I read a new name, I would flip to the back to see if they made it. Sometimes they did... sometimes they didn't, and when they didn't, you would read on to determine how they died. Sometimes in the blaze. Sometimes from jumping. Sometimes you'd read their last phone call to their loved one.

Overall, the book is excellent and reads very easily. Highly recommended. Its due in paperback sometime this month (January) so look out for it, shell out the $15 and sit and read.

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