four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
16-May-June-2005
By: 
Jim Dwyer
By: 
Kevin Flynn
user_rating: 
0

The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers

A-102MinutesNew York Times reporters Dwyer and Flynn have authored a wrenching and unflinching account of what the morning of September 11, 2001, was actually like for people inside the World Trade Center. Through the assembly of dozens of harrowing stories about individuals—a janitor who saved himself and five men by cutting his way out of an elevator shaft with a squeegee, a man who chose to stay behind with a wheelchair-bound friend who could not be rescued—102 Minutes details the lesser-known heroism of that day without diminishing the efforts of the professional first responders. The book also raises questions about how more lives might have been saved—and how well prepared the U.S. is for another attack of that magnitude.
Times Books. 322 pages. $26. ISBN: 0805076824

New York Times 4.5 of 5 Stars
"What they have produced is a masterpiece of reporting. … Their style is invariably succinct and understated; like all the best reporters, they let the story they have dug out speak for itself." Kevin Baker

Baltimore Sun 4 of 5 Stars
"The point-counterpoint that runs achingly throughout 102 Minutes, is the interplay of the ordinary and the extraordinary. … Insightful, compassionate, and unrelievedly tense, 102 Minutes creates a hellishness we once thought could exist only in places like Dresden and Stalingrad, never here, never in Manhattan." Michael Ollove

Denver Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Despite the woulda-coulda-shoulda aspect of some of the reporting, it’s the individual stories of what was happening inside the towers from the time the first plane hit the north tower at 8:46 a.m. … that pack a powerful emotional punch. … Mostly, though, it is a story of how ordinary people exhibit extraordinary traits in times of peril." Tom Walker

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"I suspect that you, like me, will read this book in a single suspenseful sitting, even though we know the ending. … Dwyer and Flynn suggest that not all the people who leapt from the upper floors of the towers did so of their own volition; some were pushed by those desperate for their place by a window and a breath of air." James B. Stewart

Providence Journal 4 of 5 Stars
"It can be tough to follow so many stories, even though some of those individuals are given only a brief mention. But the overwhelming number serves to underline the magnitude of the event and the chaos surrounding it." Ingrid Ahlgren

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"The chief virtue of 102 Minutes … is the authors’ insistence that truth supplant myth. … Although the book does pose the Russian-novel problem of uncountable characters, their stories are well-told, stirring and heartbreaking." John Farmer

Critical Summary

The meticulous reportaging and superior writing on display in 102 Minutes have earned its authors high praise. Piecing together this unsentimental account from interviews, voicemail messages, e-mails, government documents, and other sources, The New York Times journalists have created an exquisitely detailed account of how thousands of individuals experienced two of the most difficult hours in U.S. history. Alternating between an intensely personal narrative style and thoughtful, critical questioning of how such a tragedy might have been ameliorated, the book is a welcome supplement to the numerous news accounts of 9/11.