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Book Review

“Last Man Down”

Richard Picciotto with Daniel Paisner

Berkley Publishing Group, 2002



At 8:48 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, New York Fire Department’s Battalion Commander Richard Picciotto was at his firehouse passing around a bag of bagels. Tradition dictates that for every day tour of firemen in New York City, those arriving must bring cake, bagels, muffins, rolls or fruit – enough for the unit.




Along with three other battalion chiefs, Picciotto supervised seven companies and was based on the Upper West Side.

At about that time, the internal intercom said, “Channel Seven.” Everyone knew that meant “turn on the television.”

To their horror, the assembled firemen saw the north tower of the World Trade Center “smoking like crazy” and heard that a plane had crashed into the tower.

Thus began the longest day of Picciotto’s life. He had been involved in the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, so he knew that his knowledge of the building’s layout alone would be crucial.

“Last Man Down” is a vividly written description of that day. Daniel Paisner has collaborated on autobiographies and memoirs of actors, athletes, politicians and television personalities, and he is a New York Times best-selling author.

In this book, he has outdone himself, for the personality of Richard Picciotto rings true, not as the hero he was but as the hardworking fireman who is dedicated to duty. His first person narrative is breathtaking and detailed, so that the reader climbs the tower with him, saving people all the way.

The frightening story of being buried alive for four hours is as riveting as the rest of the book. The entire narrative has the feeling of authenticity. This is real and a great read.

-Joan Agar

Nevada City


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