Cover image for So others might live : a history of New York's bravest - the FDNY from 1700 to the present
So others might live : a history of New York's bravest - the FDNY from 1700 to the present
Golway, Terry, 1955-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : BasicBooks, 2002.
Physical Description:
368 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm
Format :


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Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TH9505.N5 G64 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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On September 11, 2001, the courage and sacrifice of the New York City Fire Department inspired the nation, giving new meaning to the word "hero." But the heroism of the firefighters was not unique to September 11--it has been part of the FDNY's tradition from the very beginning. Journalist Terry Golway, whose father, father-in-law, godfather, and uncles were all New York firefighters, tells as no one else could the story of the men and women, tragedies and triumphs of the FDNY throughout its history. From the original eighteenth-century volunteer force to the New York Firefighter unit in the Union Army, from the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire to the arson epidemic of the 1970s, to contemporary issues of diversity and efficiency, Golway's history holds up a mirror for firefighters throughout the U.S.In this first comprehensive chronicle of the FDNY in over sixty years, Golway weaves together stories of heroic firefighters and extraordinary fires to create a moving and original history of the city and the vocation as seen through the eyes of "New York's Bravest." From America's most ambitious public-works project of the 1700s--the building of aqueducts from upstate to help control fires--to firefighter-turned-politician Boss Tweed's backroom politics, fire and firefighters have always been an integral part of the history of the city. Lively, gut-wrenching, and ultimately inspiring, So Others Might Live offers a new view of the building of American cities and the people who made them great.As a tribute to the firefighters of New York, Basic Books will donate a portion of its proceeds from the sale of So Others Might Live to the New York Firefighters 911 Disaster Relief Fund.

Author Notes

Terry Golway , columnist and City Editor of The New York Observer , is a frequent contributor to the Irish Echo, American Heritage , the Boston Globe , and the New York Times . He is the co-author of The Irish in America , and the author of For the Cause of Liberty: A Thousand Years of Ireland's Heroes , and Irish Rebel: John Devoy and America's Fight for Ireland's Freedom . He lives in Maplewood, New Jersey.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Writing with humor and passion and an understanding of the firefighter's mindset that comes from deep personal experience (his father, father-in-law, godfather and uncles were all firemen), New York Observer editor-columnist Golway (The Irish in America, etc.) takes readers inside the New York City Fire Department. As Golway's account follows the FDNY going back to its origins in New Amsterdam, points of familiarity emerge from the fine details: the need, even in 1731, to raise money for state-of-the-art equipment; the "respect and awe" felt by little boys for firefighters; the passion of firefighters for their work; the feverish search to recover the bodies of fallen brothers. Golway also provides vivid portraits of the city's worst conflagrations: the "ocean of fire" that destroyed 674 buildings in lower Manhattan in 1835, the tragic 1904 excursion boat fire that left 1,000 dead, the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and the 850 alarms reported on April 20, 1963, "the busiest day in FDNY history." Closing chapters are devoted to the 1993 and 2001 World Trade Center attacks. Centuries of heroism and bravery are documented here, along with profiles of firefighters famed within the organization, and many readers will see this as a compelling volume to shelve alongside Richard Picciotto's Last Man Down, David Halberstam's Firehouse and former Fire Commissioner Thomas von Essen's forthcoming autobiography, Strong of Heart (see review, p. 292). 70 b&w photos. (Sept. 11) FYI: Some profits from this book are being donated to the New York Firefighter 9-11 Disaster Relief Fund. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Since the 19th century, historians have told the tale of New York City's fire department. The most thoroughly researched and accessible works are A.E. Costello's Our Firemen: A History of the New York Fire Departments (1887), and Lowell M. Limpus's History of the New York Fire Department (1940). Both take readers into the world of the average firefighter while providing an urban perspective on the political, social, and economic challenges that the department faced. In this poorly organized work, Golway (city editor, The New York Observer) surveys the history of the NYC fire department from the Colonial period to September 11, 2001. The first chapter covers the period 1648 to 1825. There are some errors of fact; e.g., even though the area did not have a representative governing body, Golway asserts that the first attempts at fire prevention were made by Director-General Peter Stuyvesant (1647 to 1664) and "the Common Council." Despite its flaws, this book is worth reading. Historians may quibble over Golway's use of evidence and some of his conclusions, but general readers will find the history of NYC's fire department framed within an exciting and highly entertaining tale. ^BSumming Up: General and undergraduate collections. T. D. Beal SUNY College at Oneonta

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. IX
Prologuep. XIII
Chapter 1 September 10, 2001p. 1
Chapter 2 "Discreet, Sober Men"p. 11
Chapter 3 A National Calamityp. 37
Chapter 4 Gangs, Feuds, and Politicsp. 67
Chapter 5 War and Revolutionp. 99
Chapter 6 "A Duty, Not a Pastime"p. 121
Chapter 7 Vertical Cityp. 155
Chapter 8 American Colossusp. 185
Chapter 9 The War Yearsp. 217
Chapter 10 A Battle for Inclusionp. 257
Chapter 11 A New Worldp. 283
Chapter 12 September 11, 2001p. 301
Chapter 13 Going Homep. 323
Epiloguep. 337
Notesp. 347
Sourcesp. 357
Indexp. 361