PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... [a] short, very potent primer on four groups of people usually left out of the general hallelujahs for the Greatest Generation ... Unfortunately, it’s hard to do full justice to them all in only 206 pages of text; the book could have been twice its length. With Murray, for example, we only see hints of her willingness to challenge just about every norm she encountered, from where she sat on a bus to her own sexuality. The length also keeps Gaines from fully explaining the fractious, changing nature of the American Communist Party ... Yet brevity can also be powerful and here, stripped to their essence, the stories of people like Fannie Lou Hamer, the martyred Evers and Rachel Carson...all hit with fresh impact ... an excellent starting point for understanding how we got to where we are, and what we risk returning to if we don’t rediscover the faith these men and women had in America’s enduring potential to remake itself in the image of justice.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewA soft-spoken former seminarian, he relays what he thought, saw and did that day without swagger or mawkishness, even during gut-punch moments ... confronting his own trauma requires him to excavate his past, how he shifted his call to a life of service from the Roman Catholic Church to the firehouse, how he met his wife and moved up the ranks at the Fire Department, and his close relationship with his brother, whose remains were eventually found. Along the way, one feels Pfeifer learning the words to express the spiritual, professional and personal crises 9/11 caused him ... At times he pulls punches that would land with meaning if delivered by someone with his integrity ... Pfeifer’s record of that day and its aftermath surely enters the canon as one of the necessary documents of 9/11. But it’s his inclusive sense of public service, one that values the heroism of those who do ordinary things in extraordinary times, that makes Ordinary Heroes a book for today.