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The Woman Who Wasn't There (edition 2012)

by Robin Gaby Fisher, Angelo J Guglielmo Jr.

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72None170,093 (3.47)3
Member:hsanger
Title:The Woman Who Wasn't There
Authors:Robin Gaby Fisher
Other authors:Angelo J Guglielmo Jr.
Info:Touchstone (2012), Kindle Edition, 306 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
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The Woman Who Wasn't There: The True Story of an Incredible Deception by Robin Gaby Fisher

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Showing 4 of 4
Betrayal, Deception, Emotions, Grief, Mystery! True, this story is full of it all and more . . . .

Liar, Liar, your pants on fire . . .

One can easily visualize each scene as the pages unfolded. The author was very descriptive in the writing - as it placed the reader in the moment.
The story itself is very fascinating. This book basically covers what is already a known fact about the events. Looking for newer discovery was not revealed in telling this story. This is done too often: how a person can captivate so many people by pretending to be someone they're not. Not only did it happen then, today it is still in existence. With their devious actions, amazing how they prey on others' emotions to gain whatever it is they seek to achieve. Only makes one wonders, have they a conscience? And that's frightening!!!! People like this person, we may never know why the "Tania Heads" do what they do. We just know it is done. If we stop to think, there are so many people in our midst these days in need of medical (physiological) attention. For sure, Tania is not alone. And she still lurks out there among those she emotionally hurt. But, will she ever apologize for all the lies told? 'Tis the least she can do! ( )
  Nina_N | Nov 7, 2013 |
Tania Hand is among the more disgusting people I've ever read about. Posing as a survivor of the 9/11 attacks, she manipulated and bullied real survivors for several years until the New York Times exposed her as a fraud. No, she didn't take money from anyone; what she stole was something more valuable--their trust. The most telling comment comes at the end of the book when the people she conned remark on how, for the first time in years, they're able to focus on their own healing rather than worrying about Tania's state of mind.

The author does a good job of relating Tania's rise and fall as a "celebrity survivor. However, I wanted more explanation as to why someone would do such a thing. Although Tania refuses to explain herself, the author could have done more research--talked to psychiatrists and other experts who could offer insight into why someone would perpetrate this kind of fraud. As written, the book leaves the reader with almost as many questions here as at the beginning. ( )
  TribPeriwinkle | Mar 30, 2013 |
This book was sort of entertaining but at the end of it all, the authors knew nothing about Tania Head other than that she decided to play a 9/11 victim and tell all kinds of unlikely lies. These lies brought her to the forefront of the 9/11 survivor movement and made her a star of sorts.

The book explains what she did and how a handful of people became her pets as she scammed and lied, but at no point does this book ever explain Tania Head. We ended up knowing remarkably little about her real life. We got snippets from her childhood but we know nothing about Tania or her motivations.

Of course, Tania herself was unwilling to discuss anything. But when you can't get enough information to write a book you don't write a book. The reactions of a handful of people whose lives we know very little about don't really complete the picture. The reaction of one high school friend who was able to tell us very little about Head wasn't enough. All we know is that this strange little woman scammed people, which could have been covered in a Vanity Fair article.

Most important is that we never really get the reaction of the family of the key victim in this - the man Tania said she married, a man who died in the attacks on 9/11. This man never knew her, and she used his name openly in the public as her husband. It was a key part of her scam. Out of sensitivity to the family that was dragged into this ridiculous charade, they do not discuss the man, his family, their reaction or anything that would give a real human face to the harm Tania Head did.

I can understand that. I really can. But as I said above, if you don't have enough information to write a compelling narrative, you don't write one.

So we have 287 pages, very short chapters, of a woman telling lies no one should have been able to believe. She is telling them to an audience whose lives ultimately mean nothing to us other than respecting their experiences on that horrible day because they're just foils to a woman whose lies never really could stand in the light of day. We know nothing about Head or her motivations other than that she must have a lot of charisma in order for people to have bought her crappy lies. We know nothing about the impact on the survivor community other than the handful of one dimensional side players who played a foil to Head.

All of this is problematic when you realize that none of Tania Head's lies were worth a damn. This was not a woman who could weave a seamless narrative. She was extremely obese and indicated that a young man carried her out of the building. She said her arm was hanging by a few ligaments and was in the hospital for weeks but could not speak of the doctors or the nurses who helped her. She described the man she claimed she was married to as either her husband or her fiance. She never produced items for a 9/11 memorial museum that she promised. Not a single person who survived remembered seeing her in the Towers. And of course, the company she worked for never, ever heard of her. And yet she got away with this narrative for years. And we don't know why because the pictures of Tania are not of a woman whose appearance speaks of much charm and the descriptions of her speeches don't really seem like they would have much resonance.

The most annoying element of this book is that in most books wherein we are treated to the unfolding of a scam, we get to see how someone uncovers the scam. In this book the hoax is unraveled by the New York Times because they finally asked all the questions any sane person should have asked. But we are not privy to the process the reporter went through as they uncovered Tania's lies. One of the most compelling elements of a book like this and we are not permitted to see it as it happens. We get all the lies and all the people buying the lies that no reasonable person would have bought and we don't even get the catharsis of watching as it unravels for Head. That's a problem.

And all of this is even more problematic if you are looking at paying $26 for a book that cannot tell you most of the story you need to know in order to give a crap. ( )
  oddbooks | Aug 11, 2012 |
What a compelling heart-wrenching story. You feel the pain that Tania Head experienced. Her world fell apart on the morning of September 11, 2001, she almost lost her own life, and she did loose her beloved Dave, her husband/fiance. She recounts her horrific tale many times in this book, how could you survive all that she has lost?
You hear about the angel in the stair-well, with the red-bandana that helps save her life. She in turn helps fill in a void in his parents life, and brings them some feeling of satisfaction on hearing how he helped her. She becomes the head of the World Trade Center Survivor's Network, and she becomes a life line to so many in need. She leads the group in helping save the "Survivor's Stairway".
She becomes best friends with Linda Gormley, among others, and when she gets stressed, she treats them terribly. There are several others, that I was worried she was going to put them over the edge, and yet most just were in awe of her. In the end she is a total FAKE! So many people loved and trusted her! Tania actually has a gift of drawing people toward her.
This book will linger with you long long after you have turned the last page. You will wonder how someone could live with themselves faking such an unimaginable horror.

I received this book from the Publisher Touchstone, and was not required to give a positive review. ( )
  alekee | Apr 8, 2012 |
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Book description
Tania Head’s astonishing account of her experience on September 11, 2001, was a tale of loss and recovery, of courage and sorrow, of horror and inspiration. It transformed her into one of the great victims and heroes of that tragic day. But there was something very wrong with Tania’s story—a terrible secret that would break the hearts and challenge the faith of all those she claimed to champion.

Told with the unique insider perspective of Angelo J. Guglielmo, Jr., a filmmaker shooting a documentary on the efforts of the Survivors’ Network, and previously one of Tania’s closest friends, The Woman Who Wasn’t There is the story of one of the most audacious and bewildering quests for acclaim in recent memory—one that poses fascinating questions about the essence of morality and the human need for connection at any cost.

[retrieved from Amazon.com 1/28/13]
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Traces the story of Tania Head, who falsely claimed to be a September 11 survivor, describing her interviews with the co-author and the discovery that she was not in America at the time of the attacks.

(summary from another edition)

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