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American Ground by William Langewiesche

American Ground (2002)

by William Langewiesche

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There is something so impressive when an author is given "unrestricted access" to his or her subject. To me, it inspires endless possibilities. When I found out Langewiesche was given "unrestricted access" to the cleanup after 9/11 I was excited. American Ground is the story of the physical breakdown, piece by piece, of the World Trade Center (hence the use of the word "unbuilding" in the subtitle). Probably the most fascinating part of American Ground was the unbelievable "territorial war" between the firefighters and the police, each believing their dead was more important than the other. There was a great disunity between the groups as the clean up continued. At the same time there were shining examples of people who selflessly went above and beyond to not honor find the missing but to honor the dead. ( )
1 vote SeriousGrace | Sep 10, 2012 |
How the rescuers came. A very American saga.
  kencf0618 | Nov 10, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0865475822, Hardcover)

The unsung-and revealing-story of the Herculean effort to finish the dismantling that terrorism began

Unlike any other reporter, William Langewiesche has had unrestricted access to Ground Zero and the people involved in the cleanup. He has literally followed in the footsteps of engineers, "deconstruction" workers, firemen, and city officials as they tackle the mind-numbing task of bringing order to an instance of chaos unprecedented on our soil.

American Ground is a tour of the interlocking circles of this Dantesque world. With the "knowledge and passion as well as ...careful eloquence" for which his reportage is known (New York Times Book Review), Langewiesche anatomizes the physical details of the collapse and deconstruction, capturing in the process the contest of politics and personality that were its aftershock. At the center of the book is the team of engineers, many of them instrumental in building the towers, who now must collaborate in the sad task of disassembling them. Their responses are as dramatic and unpredictable as the shifting pile of rubble and the surrounding "slurry wall" that constantly threatens to collapse, potentially flooding a large part of underground Manhattan. They are also emotional and territorial, as firemen, police, widows, and officials attempt to claim the tragedy-and the difficult work of extracting the rubble and the thousands of dead buried there-as their own.

In all of these aspects-its vociferousness, spontaneity, ingenuity, and fundamental democracy-Langewiesche reveals the story of the deconstruction to be uniquely American, and harshly inspiring. He has constructed an account that will endure against the events of September 11, 2001 as John Hersey's Hiroshima stands in relation to August 1945.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:27 -0400)

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Traces the monumental efforts of the cleanup crew at the World Trade Center site, and discusses physical details of the collapse and deconstruction, the political factors that contributed, and the human side of the effort.

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