A former "Spotlight" reporter at The Boston Globe narrates the events of September 11, 2001 through the lens of various witnesses whose lives were transformed—or lost—in the Al Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Utter disbelief is the dominant note of Mitchell Zuckoff’s impressively reported and riveting Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11 ... Zuckoff...delivers a taut moment-by-moment account ... Zuckoff’s necessary account differs from its predecessors in taking the widest possible real-time view of the day ... Zuckoff excels at quick-sketch summaries of dozens of ordinary personal dramas about to be shattered by the attacks ... Transcripts of anguished exchanges between 911 operators and ill-fated victims trapped on the upper floors of the Twin Towers are, inevitably, harrowing reading. Zuckoff doesn’t spare you, either, on accounts of the desperate souls who jumped from the towers ... Written 18 years after the events, Fall and Rise is able to take measure of the human fallout in ways that earlier books could not. (The book also serves as a gripping introduction to those in their 20s and younger, who have little, if any, direct memory of the tragedy.)
This book is painful to read. Even with the passage of nearly 18 years, reliving modern America’s most terrible day hits an exposed nerve that you thought had been fully numbed, only to discover that the ache was merely in remission ... the overall picture that he shapes is not really new. But freshness of detail seems less his objective than preservation of memory ... this book derives its power from its focus on individuals in the main unknown to the larger world, who managed to survive the ordeal or who lost their lives simply because they were unlucky. With journalistic rigor, Zuckoff acknowledges what he doesn’t know, for example how exactly each group of hijackers seized control of its plane. His language is largely unadorned ... Heroes abound, though not in the way that word is routinely used and abused. Heroism, as we see here, is often a product of necessity.
...remarkable and groundbreaking ... Fall and Rise is an ambitious undertaking, setting out to be an exhaustive, prismatic chronicle of 9/11. Impressively, Zuckoff pulls it off. He deftly employs novelistic tools to create and maintain suspense (a difficult feat when the story’s outcome is universally known): foreshadowing, cliffhangers, and an evocative homing in on details both heartbreaking and macabre ... Fall and Rise evokes David McCullough’s The Johnstown Flood and, before that, the work of Walter Lord, whose style was described by one reviewer as 'a kind of literary pointillism, the arrangement of contrasting bits of fact and emotion in such a fashion that a vividly real impression of an event is conveyed to the reader' ... Fall and Rise comes alive, reconfiguring and preserving the memories of that day in a vital and unforgettable account.