Firehouse by David Halberstam

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"If you have tears, prepare to shed them."
--Frank McCourt

"In the firehouse, the men not only live and eat with each other, they play sports together, go off to drink together, help repair one another's houses, and, most important, share terrifying risks; their loyalties to each other must, by the demands of the dangers they face, be instinctive and absolute."

So writes David Halberstam, one of America's most distinguished reporters and historians, in this stunning New York Times bestselling book about Engine 40, Ladder 35, located on the West Side of Manhattan near Lincoln Center. On the morning of September 11, 2001, two rigs carrying thirteen men set out from this firehouse: twelve of them would never return.

Firehouse takes us to the epicenter of the tragedy. Through the kind of intimate portraits that are Halberstam's trademark, we watch the day unfold--the men called to duty while their families wait anxiously for news of them. In addition, we come to understand the culture of the firehouse itself: why gifted men do this; why, in so many instances, they are eager to follow in their fathers' footsteps and serve in so dangerous a profession; and why, more than anything else, it is not just a job, but a calling.

This is journalism-as-history at its best, the story of what happens when one small institution gets caught in an apocalyptic day. Firehouse is a book that will move readers as few others have in our time.

About David Halberstam

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David Halberstam was one of America's most distinguished journalists and historians. After graduating from Harvard in 1955, he covered the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement, then was sent overseas by the New York Times to report on the war in Vietnam. The author of fifteen bestsellers, including The Best and the Brightest, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his Vietnam reporting at the age of thirty. He was killed in a car accident on April 23, 2007, while on his way to an interview for what was to be his next book.
Published May 29, 2002 by Hachette Books. 208 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Sports & Outdoors, Professional & Technical, Business & Economics, Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Computers & Technology, Science & Math. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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He nails the pride and purposefulness with which firefighters view their work, and how that sense of mission and honor melded the house into a family—a word that is not a metaphor here, since more than once the author informs us that someone was “a fireman's son and a fireman's grandson,” with br...

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Publishers Weekly

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Through interviews with surviving colleagues and family members, Halberstam pieces together the day's events and offers portraits of the men who perished—from rookie Mike D'Auria, a former chef who liked to read about Native American culture, to Captain Frank Callahan, greatly respected by the me...

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How many lives were saved by the hundreds of firefighters who entered the burning Twin Towers?

Sep 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Firehouse

AV Club

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The book is far from an exposé, yet it isn't a stone memorial, either: Halberstam treats his subjects with reverence, but his tone remains simple, tough, and resolutely dignified, a gesture to their own no-nonsense manner.

Jul 29 2002 | Read Full Review of Firehouse


Mr. Halberstam did several interviews to write this book and as a result was able to tell us what each fireman was doing in the World Trade Center at the time of the collapse.

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