Cover image for American ground, unbuilding the World Trade Center
Title:
American ground, unbuilding the World Trade Center
Author:
Langewiesche, William.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : North Point Press, [2002]

©2002
Physical Description:
205 pages : map ; 22 cm
General Note:
Map on lining papers.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780865475823
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

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.


Author Notes

William Langewiesche is an American author and journalist, and was a professional airplane pilot for many years. He is currently the international correspondent for the magazine Vanity Fair, but made his name as a national correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly magazine. He has written articles covering events such as the World Trade Center cleanup, a three-part series which was published as the book American Ground.

Langewiesche was a finalist for the 2004 Lettre Ulysses Award for the Art of Reportage for American Ground. Unbuilding the World Trade Center and 2005 for The Outlaw Sea. He was a finalist for the 2007 Michael Kelly Award.

He currently lives in France. (Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Langewiesche had unrestricted access to Manhattan's Ground Zero during the post-September 11 cleanup, and his triptych of articles (originally published in the Atlantic Monthly) takes readers through what became known to its denizens as the Pile, from the moment of destruction to the departure of the last truckload of rubble from the ruins a little less than nine months later. He gives a calm, precise account of the air traffic controllers trying to understand what was happening to the hijacked planes and explains precisely how the towers collapsed. The stars of the rest of this story are people one doesn't usually read about: administrators, engineers and construction workers in charge of the cleanup-a process in which, as Langewiesche describes it, order emerged from chaos by the sheer force of will of those in charge. One such outsize personality is David Griffin, a demolition expert who drove up from North Carolina, bluffed his way onto the restricted site, and quickly wound up in a position of authority. There's also a frank account of the tensions between police and firefighters at Ground Zero. Most fascinating, though, Langewiesche takes readers right inside the smoking Pile, as he joins workers on dangerous underground expeditions to see whether the slurry walls that keep out the Hudson will hold, or whether freon might be leaking from underground refrigerators. This is a genuinely monumental story, told without melodrama, an intimate depiction of ordinary Americans reacting to grand-scale tragedy at their best-and sometimes their worst. (Oct.) Forecast: The exposure in the Atlantic and widespread review coverage may help this elegantly written and unique September 11 book rise toward the top. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved