Cover image for Man of the hour
Man of the hour
Blauner, Peter.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Boston : Little, Brown, 1999.
Physical Description:
424 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


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When David Fitzgerald, a teacher in a Brooklyn high school, keeps his students from boarding a bus that turns out to have a bomb on it, he becomes the emblematic modern hero -- the President mentions him in a speech, TV talk shows fight over him, and camera crews film him in the classroom.Then the police reveal that he is considered a suspect in the bombing, and everything turns upside down. His media appearances are made to look sinister. His livelihood is taken away. Even his right to see his own son is threatened. Transformed from hero to pariah, he has to put his life back together -- and finding the real bomber appears to be his only way out."Man of The Hour" is a taut, thoughtful thriller that should follow The Intruder onto the bestseller lists.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

David Fitzgerald, a high-school English teacher, has focused his classroom lessons on heroism and courage. Now he finds his own courage tested when a school bus his class is about to board explodes and he struggles with the decision to save a pregnant student or to save his own life for his five-year-old son. He boards the bus, saves the girl, and plunges himself into a whirlwind of publicity and celebrity that boosts his stock with his son, his emotionally unstable and estranged wife, and practically the entire city of New York. Now a media darling, David is invited to appear on talk shows and is set to receive a heroism award from the mayor and the governor. Just as suddenly as he had been named a public hero, he is reformulated as a public villain when he is suspected of having planted the bomb. An ambitious young reporter, ahead of the pack with the first story of suspicions about David, tries to stay there by interviewing David's troubled wife, who vilifies him as a wife-beater and child molester. Now an "anti-celebrity," David is at risk of losing his job, his son, and his equilibrium. He fights back in the media, countering his new evil image, and enlists the help of his students to find out who actually bombed the bus, killing the driver. One of his students, Elizabeth Hamby, an Arab teen from a deeply culture-conflicted family, has her own struggle to find the courage to turn in her brother, Nasser. Blauner, author of the best-selling The Intruder (1996) and a former reporter, has written an exciting suspense novel, peopled with fascinating characters--teachers, students, cops, reporters--that tackles the fickleness of fame and celebrity in American culture. --Vanessa Bush

Publisher's Weekly Review

Thorough reportage and dead-on description make Blauner's latest city-streets novel (after 1997's paperback bestseller The Intruder) as impressive for its realism as for its suspense. David Fitzgerald is a slang-talking, highly literate 40-year-old English teacher who tolerates the frustrations of working at dilapidated Coney Island High School for the sake of students like bright, conflicted Palestinian Elizabeth Hamdy. Elizabeth's older brother, Nasser, was also once in Fitzgerald's class. Unreachable and full of hatred for America and Israel, he has joined a terrorist group that practices jihad, believing that even robbing a convenience store or killing a child is sanctioned by God's will. When Nasser and his fellow terrorists plant a bomb in a school bus, Fitzgerald becomes an accidental hero by preventing most of his class from entering the vehicle and then risking his life to rescue a pregnant teenager who is already on board. Circumstantial factors, however, soon reverse Fitzgerald's image and he becomes a prime suspect in the bombing, savaged by the system but never officially accused. Dysfunctional urban settings inhabited by uneasy, suspicious immigrants create a backdrop to Fitzgerald's personal drama: a marriage to a mentally unstable actress, and a deep fear that his contact with his son will be terminated. Blauner, a former journalist, writes about the media with the jaded authority of an insider. His novel looks unflinchingly at the aspects of contemporary American life that make morality a transient, relative principle. Agent, Richard Pine. 175,000 first printing; $250,000 ad/promo. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The "man of the hour," David Fitzgerald, is a teacher at Coney Island High School who faces his responsibilities with all the right stuff: enthusiasm for learning, an empathic understanding of his students, and intellectual discipline. But when he becomes the lead suspect in the bombing of a school bus that results in the death of the driver, he soon learns that some things in life are beyond human control. In no time, he is chin-deep in trouble: suspended, ostracized, hounded by a rapacious press, and grilled by the police. Two other characters also take up the story: the real culprit, Nasser, a former student of Palestinian descent who is a member of a group waging a holy war against the United States, and his sister, Elizabeth, who still attends Coney Island High. Blauner's (The Intruder, LJ 4/15/96) gifts as a storyteller come through in mettlesome form, and the skill of the narrative is only surpassed by the subtle and thorough interpretation of human motives. Put this one on your list. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/98.]ÄA.J. Anderson, GSLIS, Simmons Coll., Boston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.