102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers

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The dramatic and moving account of the struggle for life inside the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, when every minute counted

At 8:46 am on September 11, 2001, 14,000 people were inside the twin towers-reading e-mails, making trades, eating croissants at Windows on the World. Over the next 102 minutes, each would become part of a drama for the ages, one witnessed only by the people who lived it-until now.

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102 Minutes: The Unforgettable Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers

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Overview

The dramatic and moving account of the struggle for life inside the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, when every minute counted

At 8:46 am on September 11, 2001, 14,000 people were inside the twin towers-reading e-mails, making trades, eating croissants at Windows on the World. Over the next 102 minutes, each would become part of a drama for the ages, one witnessed only by the people who lived it-until now.

Of the millions of words written about this wrenching day, most were told from the outside looking in. New York Times reporters Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn have taken the opposite-and far more revealing-approach. Reported from the perspectives of those inside the towers, 102 Minutes captures the little-known stories of ordinary people who took extraordinary steps to save themselves and others. Beyond this stirring panorama stands investigative reporting of the first rank. An astounding number of people actually survived the plane impacts but were unable to escape, and the authors raise hard questions about building safety and tragic flaws in New York's emergency preparedness.

Dwyer and Flynn rely on hundreds of interviews with rescuers, thousands of pages of oral histories, and countless phone, e-mail, and emergency radio transcripts. They cross a bridge of voices to go inside the infernos, seeing cataclysm and heroism, one person at a time, to tell the affecting, authoritative saga of the men and women-the nearly 12,000 who escaped and the 2,749 who perished-as they made 102 minutes count as never before.

 

102 Minutes is a 2005 National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A masterpiece of reporting . . . [102 Minutes] contains one story after another of harrowing escapes, immense heroism and heart-rending loss . . . Brilliant and troubling." —The New York Times

"The chief virtue of 102 Minutes, Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn's unsparing, eloquent history of the struggle to survive inside the World Trade Center, is the authors' insistence that truth supplants myth." —John Farmer (Senior Counsel to the 9/11 Commission, former New Jersey Attorney General), The Washington Post Book World

"It's just one of those great books of reporting, and you read it almost at one sitting with your hair on end. It tells you something about 9/11 that you may not have known before, and it does it by marshaling facts. "—Garrison Keillor

"A heart-stopping, meticulous account . . . I suspect that you, like me, will read this book in a single suspenseful sitting, even though we know the ending." —The New York Times Book Review

"An astounding reconstruction of what happened inside the World Trade Center . . . These are stories, after all, you have to share."—Newsweek

"Exhaustively researched and smoothly written . . . Dwyer and Flynn's most impressive achievement: writing in a way that confers dignity on each subject. This is one book that will stay with most readers for a very long time." —People

"Insightful, compassionate . . . unmistakably affirming."—The Sun (Baltimore)

"For those of us haunted by the tragedy, an indispensable book." —O Magazine

"Poignant, emotion-stirring and important...a story of how ordinary people exhibit extraordinary traits in times of peril."—Tom Walker, Denver Post

"It took the authors three years to describe what happened in 102 minutes...The book is worth the wait." —Ingrid Ahlgren, Providence Journal

"The writing - sometimes searing, sometimes factual but always appropriate - brings the human experience of disaster into focus." —Rosemary Herbert, Boston Herald

Forbes
A woman at a dinner party recently lamented to me that the current war on terrorism had plunged her into an ethical fog. "I wish I could recall exactly how I felt on the morning of September 11, watching those towers burn," she said of the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. "It seemed so clear what was good and what was evil." If your memory of that horrific morning has faded as well, then 102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers is sure to reawaken feelings of shock, anger and unrelenting sadness that poured out of all of us that day. Two superb New York Times investigative reporters, Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn, combed through hundreds of interviews with survivors, building records, phone logs and never-before-heard transcripts of police and fire department tapes to produce a moment-by-moment reenactment of the buildings' destruction, from first impact to collapse. There are stories of narrow escapes, personal sacrifice and almost superhuman courage told in heart-pounding detail. Ap-proximately 12,000 people escaped the towers; almost 3,000 didn't. All of them expected that Tuesday to be just a rou-tine day at the office. It is Dwyer and Flynn's brilliance as storytellers that makes what eventually happened come alive once again. It would not be overstatement to say that 102 Minutes is an important book. Certainly it is an invaluable reminder for those of us whose memories of good and evil on that day may have since dimmed.
—Patrick Cooke
Michelle Green
Exhaustively researched and smoothly written.... Dwyer and Flynn's most impressive achievement: writing in a way that confers dignity on each subject. This is one book that will stay with most readers for a very long time.
People
Susannah Meadows
An astounding reconstruction of what happened inside the World Trade Center.... These are stories, after all, you have to share.
Newsweek
O Magazine
For those of us haunted by the tragedy, an indispensable book.
Michael Ollove
[A] harrowing, deeply reported, practically minute-by-minute and floor-by-floor portrayal. . . . Insightful, compassionate, and unrelievedly tense.
The Baltimore Sun
John Farmer
The chief virtue of 102 Minutes, Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn's unsparing, eloquent history of the struggle to survive inside the World Trade Center, is the authors' insistence that truth supplant myth. However comforting myths may be after a defeat, they're useless in assessing what went wrong and may actually be impediments to preventing future disasters.
The Washington Post Book World
James B. Stewart
A heart-stopping, meticulous account...I suspect that you, like me, will read this book in a single suspenseful sitting, even though we know the ending.
— The New York Times
Kevin Baker
A masterpiece of reporting....succinct...riveting enough to be read in a sitting...heart-wrenching...Brilliant and troubling.
The New York Times
Tom Walker
Poignant, emotion-stirring and important...a story of how ordinary people exhibit extraordinary traits in times of peril.
Denver Post
Ingrid Ahlgren
It took the authors three years to describe what happened in 102 minutes...The book is worth the wait.
Providence Journal
Rosemary Herbert
The writing -- sometimes searing, sometimes factual but always appropriate -- brings the human experience of disaster into focus.
Boston Herald
Brian Palmer
Many of the stories are astounding; almost all are heartbreaking...They accord these men and women the honor they deserve.
Newsday
Publishers Weekly
Drawn from thousands of radio transcripts, phone messages, e-mails and interviews with eyewitnesses, this 9/11 account comes from the perspective of those inside the World Trade Center from the moment the first plane hit at 8:46 a.m. to the collapse of the north tower at 10:28 a.m. The stories are intensely intimate, and they often stir gut-wrenching emotions. A law firm receptionist quietly eats yogurt at her desk seconds before impact. Injured survivors, sidestepping debris and bodies, struggle down a stairwell. A man trapped on the 88th floor leaves a phone message for his fiancee: "Kris, there's been an explosion.... I want you to know my life has been so much better and richer because you were in it." Dwyer and Flynn, New York Times writers, take rescue agencies to task for rampant communications glitches and argue that the towers' faulty design helped doom those above the affected floors ("Their fate had been sealed nearly four decades earlier, when... fire stairs were eliminated as a wasteful use of valuable space"). In doing so, the authors frequently draw parallels to similar safety oversights aboard the ill-fated Titanic nearly 90 years before. Their reporting skills are exceptional; readers experience the chaos and confusion that unfolded inside, in grim, painstaking detail. B&w photos. Agent, Philippa Brophy. (Jan. 12) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
It is September 11, 2001, and Dwyer and Flynn, veteran New York City newspaper reporters, take us into the 102 minutes of hell experienced by those in the World Trade Center between the time the first jet crashed into the north tower and the last standing tower toppled. While other accounts have focused on the members of NYFD and NYPD who responded to the catastrophe, this book tells the stories of scores of civilians. One might think that little good could be made of a situation in which at least 2700 persons died-hundreds needlessly owing to misguided instructions to stay at their posts, a building designed more to minimize unrentable space (i.e., stairways and elevators) than to save lives, failure to learn from the previous terrorist bombing in 1993, and lack of communication between police and fire departments. We do, however, find light amid the grimness-the heroism of civilians who chose to remain and rescue others, the loyalty of those who stayed with friends who could not escape, the strength of the human spirit itself. Recommended for all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/04.]-Jim Burns, Jacksonville P.L., FL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-In a compelling and clear writing style, Dwyer and Flynn use the words of victims and survivors to show what it was like to live through moments of despair and heroism inside the towers on 9/11. Using interviews, e-mails, telephone records, emergency radio tapes, and transcripts, the authors allow readers to experience the terror from the moment the first plane struck until the second tower fell. Diagrams of the buildings give a clearer sense of the mechanics of the tragedy. The passage of time has done nothing to diminish the heroism of citizens and rescue personnel alike whose lives where irrevocably changed by the events of that day. Introducing readers to some of the people who were there reminds us of the survival instinct and the willingness of individuals to help others while they themselves are in the direst of circumstances.-Peggy Bercher, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Two New York Times reporters take us inside the World Trade Center on 9/11 to give us a more capacious view of heroism. Dwyer (Subway Lives, 1991, etc.), who won a Pulitzer as part of the group that covered the 1993 WTC bombing, teamed with special-projects editor Flynn to interview scores of survivors and their families; the pair also studied e- and voice-mails from those inside. From these sources they've pieced together a powerful account of the disaster that hesitates neither to confer laurels nor point fingers. Their technique is not novel: we move around the buildings, getting to know some folks employed there and learning names and histories of rescue workers. We know the buildings will fall; those inside do not. (Most people fleeing the north tower didn't discover until they got outside that the south had fallen.) The authors lard their tale with surprising and alarming detail. The Marriott swimming pool caught fire. A man carried a disabled woman 54 floors down to the street. A fireman was killed by a falling human being. Molten aluminum from a melting airliner poured from an 80th-floor window. A dead cop's gun went off in the searing heat. Their account of the rescue efforts is equally disturbing. The various agencies were unable to communicate with one another; firemen carrying 57 pounds of equipment struggled slowly up stairs choked by smoke, heat, and debris; 911 dispatchers gave mixed messages to those inside; about a hundred firemen died in the north tower because they had stopped to rest on floor 19 and didn't hear the evacuation order. The authors conclude that most of the rescuing was done by civilians helping one another, not by policemen and firemen. Flynn and Dwyer donot seek to diminish what the safety officers did; instead, they celebrate the extraordinary capacities of ordinary folk. Swift, photographic prose defines the dimensions of hell-and of humanity. (8-page photo insert)Agent: Philippa Brophy/Sterling Lord Literistic
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805080322
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/10/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.43 (w) x 8.26 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Meet the Author

Jim Dwyer & Kevin Flynn

Jim Dwyer is the coauthor of Actual Innocence and Two Seconds Under the World, and the author of Subway Lives. A Pulitzer Prize winner, he writes the About New York column for The New York Times. He lives in New York City.

Kevin Flynn, a special projects editor at The New York Times, was the newspaper's police bureau chief on September 11, having previously worked as a reporter for the New York Daily News, Newsday, and The Advocate (Stamford). He lives in Connecticut.

Biography

Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn, native New Yorkers, veteran newspaper reporters, and winners of many awards together and separately, now write for The New York Times. Dwyer is co-author of Two Seconds Under the World, an account of the 1993 effort to knock down the World Trade Center, and of Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution and Other Dispatches from the Wrongly Convicted. He is also the author of Subway Lives: 24 Hours in the Life of the New York City Subway. Flynn, a special projects editor at the Times, was the newspaper's police bureau chief on September 11. He previously worked as a reporter for the New York Daily News, New York Newsday, and the Stamford Advocate.

Author biography courtesy of Henry Holt and Company.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Jim Dwyer
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      Dwyer: B.S., Fordham, 1979; M.S., Columbia, 1980. Flynn: B.A., Brown, 1978; M.S., Columbia, 1979

Read an Excerpt

102 Minutes

1

"It's a bomb, let's get out of here."

8:46 A.M.

NORTH TOWER

 

A bomb, Dianne DeFontes thought, when thinking became possible again. At 8:46:30, an impact had knocked her off a chair in the law office on the 89th floor of the north tower, 1 World Trade Center. The door swung free, even though she had bolted it shut. In another part of the floor, Walter Pilipiak had just pushed open the door to the offices of Cosmos International, an insurance brokerage where he was president. Akane Ito heard him coming and looked up from her desk to greet him. Before Pilipiak could get the words "Good morning" out of his mouth, he felt something smack the back of his head, and he was hurled into a wall. Ceiling tiles collapsed on Ito. A bomb, they decided, several breaths later.

On the southwest end of the 89th floor, the insurance company MetLife had 10,000 square feet of space. After the initial slam, Rob Sibarium could feel every one of those square feet tilting as the tower bent south, so far that it seemed as if it would never recoil. It did, slowly returning to center. Something had happened in the other building, Sibarium thought. An explosion.

Mike McQuaid, the electrician installing fire alarms, was sure he knew what he was feeling: an exploding transformer, from amachine room somewhere below the 91st floor. Nothing else could rock the place with such power.

In the lobby, Dave Kravette had just ridden down from the Cantor Fitzgerald office to meet his guests, after ending the conversation with his wife about the newspaper delivery. Just a few steps out of the elevator, he heard a tremendous crash and what sounded like elevator cars free-falling. Then he saw a fireball blow out of a shaft. Around him, people dived to the ground. Kravette froze and watched the fireball fold back on itself.

She dropped the phone, Louis Massari would remember thinking. His wife, Patricia, had been reporting to him that she had bought a second home pregnancy test. The first one, that morning, had been positive, a surprise. Patricia worked as a capital analyst on the 98th floor of the north tower for Marsh & McLennan, an insurance and financial services concern; at night she took college courses. The pregnancy test was on her mind; it trumped, naturally, the test she was due to take that evening in her class and had been fretting over. So they had plenty to talk about.

"Oh, my God—" she said, and then Louis heard nothing. She had slipped, somehow, he was sure, and had pulled the cord out of the jack.

Higher still in the building, on the 106th floor, Howard Kane, the controller for Windows on the World, was speaking by phone with his wife, Lori. Kane dropped the receiver, or so it seemed to his wife, because the sounds of clamor and alarm, the high notes of anxiety if not the exact words, filled her ear. Maybe he was having a heart attack. Then she could hear a woman screaming, "Oh, my God, we're trapped," and her husband calling out, "Lori!"

Then another man picked up the phone, and spoke. "There's a fire," he said. "We have to call 911."

From the Risk Waters conference in Windows on the World, Caleb Arron Dack, a computer consultant, called his wife, Abigail Carter, on a cell phone. "We're at Windows on the World," Dack said. "There was a bomb." He could not get through to the police emergency line. He needed Abigail to call 911 for him. The bomb may have been in the bathroom.

At another breakfast, in a delicatessen a quarter mile below Windows on the World, the former director of the world trade department, Alan Reiss, had not heard, felt, or seen a thing. He sat with his back to the window that overlooked the plaza. Suddenly, one of the other Port Authority managers, Vickie Cross Kelly, looking past Reiss's shoulder to the window, called out.

"Something must have happened," she said. "People are running around on the mall." Reiss turned. He saw terrified people, sprinting in every direction. A person with a gun had set off the chaos, he guessed.

"I've got to go," Reiss said, tossing a five-dollar bill on the table, then headed for the trade center police office, one floor above them, in the low-rise building known as 5 World Trade Center. Through big plate-glass windows that faced east toward Church Street, he could see a blizzard of burning confetti. This was not as straightforward as someone with a gun. Another bomb?

In 1993, Reiss had just opened the door to his basement office when the terrorists' truck bomb exploded 150 feet away. Afterward, he had been part of the team that refitted the towers for better evacuation. As a matter of doctrine at the trade center, bombs were seen as a threat that could cause harrowing but local damage. They were unlikely to bring cataclysm.

In the weeks and months following the 1993 attack, the danger from a powerful bomb attack on the trade center, especially the two towers, had been considered by the Port Authority and its security consultants. Most experts agreed that while the towers could be hurt by a bomb, they could not be destroyed. Anyone might, in theory, sneak a bomb onto a floor, but the damage would largely be confined to 1 floor out of 110—or looked at another way, 1 acre out of 110. In general, bombs are as powerful as they are big. The larger the bomb, the bigger the explosion, the greater the damage. The 1993 terrorists had driven 1,200 pounds of explosive into the basement. Even so, the base of the towers, the strongest part of the buildings, easily deflected the explosion. Compared with the powerful load absorbed by the face of the towers from winds that blew every hour of every day, the truck bomb in the basement was puny.

Moreover, there was no simple way of getting 1,200 pounds of explosive to the upper floors, where the structure was not as dense as the base. If the monumentalism of the towers made them a natural target, their very height added protection, not vulnerability. Gravity was part of the built-in defense to the devastation of a big bomb.

From what Reiss could see, he was sure that someone had set off a big bomb. While it is true that small bombs—explosives fitted into a tape recorder or hidden inside a suitcase—can blow an airplane out of the sky, that destructiveness has less to do with the bomb than with the altitude. What rips apart the aircraft is not the size of the bomb but a rupture in the fuselage at 35,000 feet, with the lethal force coming from the difference between the cabin pressure and the atmosphere. Those forces are not present even at the top of skyscrapers as tall as the twin towers, limiting the destructive energy of a conventional bomb to its size.

By the time Reiss had run up one flight on the escalator, he guessed that a truck bomb must have blown up somewhere around the trade center.

Reiss no longer worked in the basement, as he had in 1993, and he wondered, fleetingly, who in his old department had arrived for work on the 88th floor of the north tower. Up there, no one had illusions about a truck bomb. The moment arrived as a powerful fist rocking the building. As soon as Gerry Gaeta, a member of the team that oversaw construction projects at the trade center, could find his words, he hollered, "It's a bomb, let's get out of here." And he was sure he knew how it had gotten up there. Moments earlier, a messenger had arrived with a trolley of documents for Jim Connors in the real estate department. Surely that was how the bomb had been wheeled in, Gaeta thought; the boxes of "documents" had been a Trojan horse.

Down the hall, Nicole De Martini had just drawn the last sip of her coffee and had risen to leave her husband's office to go to hers, in the south tower, when she and Frank heard a boom from overhead and felt the building lurch. Nicole watched a river of fire spill past the window in Frank's office. It was a bomb, they both thought.Or maybe the machine room had exploded, burning diesel fuel. Nothing else could explain the force they felt, one that seemed directly above them.

The elevators had rocked, swinging like pendulums. Pasquale Buzzelli, a Port Authority engineer going to his office on 64, felt the car right itself, then slowly descend to the 44th floor, where he had started from. Smoke began to pump through the shaft. No one seemed to understand what was happening, so he got back on the elevator, which now was working just fine, and rode up to the 64th floor. There he met his boss, Patrick Hoey, the engineer in charge of the Port Authority's bridges and tunnels, who was just as puzzled.

"What happened, Pat?" Buzzelli asked.

"I don't know, but it near knocked me out of my chair," Hoey replied.

The tower had miles of elevator shafts. In one that served the middle of the building, six men were in a car bound for the upper floors. They felt the jolt, then a swoop. A window washer named Jan Demczur punched the emergency stop button. In a moment, fingers of smoke crept into the car, rising past the cuffs of the men in the car, pushing down from the roof. They rang the intercom. No one answered. On board another elevator, which had just left the north tower lobby, was Judith Martin, the secretary who had lingered outside for a cigarette. She and six other people were now stuck, pressing the alarm and calling for help.

In the Marriott Hotel, tucked between the two towers, the Rev. Paul Engel, naked except for a cross dangling on a chain around his neck, had just gone to the lockers after working out when he heard an impossibly loud screech of metal on metal, like the squeal of train brakes. A Catholic priest, Engel went every morning to the health club atop the hotel. Normally, he finished his exercise with some laps in the pool, but had skipped that part of his routine today. Now he quickly pulled on the nearest garment, his swimming trunks, and peeked at the pool. It was on fire.

From a window on the 61st floor in the north tower, Ezra Aviles had seen everything. He knew it was no bomb. His window faced north, and he saw the plane tearing through the skies, headingstraight for the tower. It had crashed into the building over his head—how far, he was not sure. In fact, its lower wing cut the ceiling of the 93rd floor, and its right wing had ripped across the 98th floor, at the very moment that Patricia Massari was speaking to her husband about her home pregnancy test.

Aviles worked for the Port Authority. He dialed five numbers, leaving identical messages, describing what he saw, and telling everyone up the chain of command to begin the evacuation. He called one colleague, John Paczkowski, but reached his voice mail. "It seems to be an American Airlines jetliner came in from the northern direction, toward—from the Empire State Building, toward us," Aviles said. He ticked through a list of notifications—he had called the police and the public affairs office, and had beeped the chief operating officer for the agency. "Smoke is beginning to come, so I think I'm gonna start bailing outta here, man ... . Don't come near the building if you're outside. Pieces are coming down, man. Bye."

Then he phoned his wife, Mildred, who was at home with two of their three children. "Millie, a plane hit the building," he said. "It's going to be on the news."

By then, the havoc was escalating, even if the cause was not apparent. In the police bureau at the base, Alan Reiss heard talk of a missile having been fired from the roof of the Woolworth Building, just a couple of blocks east of the trade center.

As Reiss was listening to this, a Port Authority detective, Richie Paugh, arrived.

"We're going out onto the plaza to let you know what's going on," Reiss told the desk. He and Paugh walked down the hallway from the plaza, past an airline ticket counter. A revolving door put them under a soffit, an overhang sheltering the entrance to 5 World Trade Center. They peered out. Debris had rained onto the plaza—steel and concrete and fragments of offices and glass. Above them, they could see the east side of the north tower, and also its northern face. Instead of the waffle gridding of the building's face, they now saw a wall of fire spread across ten or fifteen floors. Then they saw the people coming out the windows, driven toward air, and into air. The plane had struck not two minutes earlier.

On the ground, they saw an odd shape. Reiss looked closer. It was the nose gear of an airplane, missing the rubber tire, but with its wheel still connected to the hydraulic elbow that retracts into the bottom of the plane. Paugh began to take notes on its shape and location. Reiss protested. "There's crap falling on us," he said. "I don't have a hard hat on or anything, let's just drag it in."

He and Paugh lugged the part into the police office. "It's evidence, put a sticker on it," Reiss said.

"A plane hit the building," Paugh said.

"It's a big plane," Reiss added. "It's not a Piper Cub. This is a bi-i-i-g fucking wheel."

For hundreds of people on the upper floors of the north tower, death had come in a thunderous instant. The remains of one man who worked for Marsh & McLennan, which occupied space on the 93rd to 100th floors, would later be found five blocks from the tower. American Airlines Flight 11 had flown directly into the company's offices. The impact killed scores of people who could never have known what hit them.

Flight 11 had hit 1 World Trade Center, the north tower, at 450 miles an hour, having traveled the full length of Manhattan Island, fourteen miles from north to south, in less than two minutes. When it slammed into the north side of the building, the plane's forward motion came to a halt. The plane itself was fractionalized. Hunks of it erupted from the south side of the tower, opposite to where it had entered. A part of the landing gear landed five blocks south. The jet fuel ignited and roared across the sky, as if the fuel continued to fly on course, even without its jet. Much of the energy deflected from the speeding plane shot in waves down the skeleton of the north tower. The waves pulsed into the bedrock, rolled out to the Atlantic Ocean, and along the bed of the Hudson River. The impact registered on instruments in Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, twenty-two miles to the north, generating signals for twelve seconds. The earth shook.

Copyright © 2005 by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xi
365 People at the World Trade Center xiii
Authors' Note xxi
Prologue 1
1 "It's a bomb, let's get out of here." 13
2 "It's going to be the top story of the day." 21
3 "Mom, I'm not calling to chat." 35
4 "We have no communication established up there yet." 45
5 "Should we be staying here, or should we evacuate?" 63
6 "Get away from the door!" 80
7 "If the conditions warrant on your floor, you may wish to start an orderly evacuation." 89
8 "You can't go this way." 101
9 "The doors are locked." 126
10 "I've got a second wind." 146
11 "I'm staying with my friend." 166
12 "Tell the chief what you just told me." 184
13 "We'll come down in a few minutes." 211
14 "You don't understand." 228
Epilogue 246
Afterword 262
Lost 277
Notes 279
Acknowledgments 315
Index 321
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 136 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 13, 2011

    HORRIBLY EXCELLENT!!!!

    I find it interesting that most of the reviews of this book are rather lenghty. Is it due to the excellent writing of the two authors or could it be that we are given the opportunity to recall and recount our individual feelings of that day? Perhaps it is a combination of both. As I read, a visual reminder replayed over and over in my mind. Thank you Barnes and Noble for making this accounting of those events available. And may we NEVER FORGET!

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 12, 2011

    Highly recommend

    I read this book in paper form over a year ago, and still think back on it from time to time. Very well written, with incredible insight from people who were really there. This is one I'll read again, and I don't say that about many books.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Jennifer Wardrip - Personal Read

    This was an absolutely amazing book. Not just because of the true-life accounts of many who survived (or, in many cases, didn't), but mostly because the authors pull no punches in telling the story of 9/11/01.<BR/><BR/>This isn't a book that bashes the government, both local and national, but it does tell both the good and the bad, the positive and the negative. While I was uplifted and encouraged by so many examples of human kindness, I was devastated to read that so very many deaths could have possibly been avoided, if there had just been better communication between political-minded departments.<BR/><BR/>Also, the fact that so many shortcuts were taken in building the World Trade Center, simply to create more rentable space, shows just how far people will go to make a buck. It saddens me that so many lives might have been saved if there were more staircases, if they had been spread out more, if they had had proper fireproofing.<BR/><BR/>If you're interested at all in the story that is 9/11, then this is a must-read.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A gripping, compelling piece of investigative reporting that shows what it was like to be in the World Trade Center on September 11th.

    It seems hard to believe that we're approaching the 10th anniversary of September 11th. At the time, I had just moved to Manhattan about two weeks before the attacks. When it happened, I was alone in a Greenwich Village apartment scared out of my mind. I remember hearing the roar of American Airlines Flight 11 as it flew over my roof before crashing into the North Tower. I remember seeing an armed military fighter jet flying overhead ready to shoot down any more hijacked planes. I remember hearing people hysterically crying as they returned to my apartment building and made their way up the corridor of steps that passed my door. I could go on, but I can only offer a limited scope on a day that defies all magnitude.

    I've wanted to read 102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn for quite some time now. And I'm not afraid to say, it took me awhile to gather my courage before I could pick it up. I wasn't sure that even 10 years later I was ready to read about what happened inside the towers on that fateful day. The horror is beyond all imagining, but Dwyer and Flynn provide an important historical resource filled with humanity and backed by a gargantuan reporting effort. The amount of facts, interviews, phone recordings and email accounts is seamlessly woven into a gripping narrative that is utterly fascinating. I could not put it down once I started and ended up finishing the book in two days. The writers' ability to make you feel like you are inside the towers while these catastrophic events are unfolding is nothing short of investigative journalism at its best.

    What surprised me is that even after a decade of continuous media coverage there was still so much that I learned for the first time in this book. There were roughly 14,000 people in the towers when the first plane struck and over 12,000 made it out alive. That is a staggering number. When they descended multiple stories of narrow staircases, the survivors then had to exit a lobby from which bodies and fiery debris were dropping from above. The fact that so many were able to safely evacuate is astounding.

    There are so many individual stories profiled in the book, but one that stands out for me is Battalion Chief Orio J. Palmer, a marathon runner and FDNY firefighter. His determination led him to climb 78 stories to reach the impact zone of the South Tower. He made it to an elevator staging bay where people would transfer to complete their ascent or descent. Many were waiting here when American Airlines Flight 175 slammed through. The death and destruction Palmer witnessed and radioed back was beyond belief. The saddest thing is that despite a valiant effort he too perished minutes later when the South Tower collapsed.

    A poignant section features photographs taken inside the towers that day. You see Palmer in full uniform in the lobby. You see NYPD officer Moira Smith escort an injured man to safety before she herself perished in the collapse. You see pictures taken by survivor John Labriola as he snapped images of firefighters rushing up the stairs while a whole line of people trickle down and the lobby of the North Tower whose windows overlook a plaza filled with burning debris. These images are haunting as they offer a fleeting glimpse inside a moment of history.

    The horror of the day is told in pieces, but it adds up to a frightening whole.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 23, 2011

    Powerful & haunting

    For most people the images of 9/11 are indelibly burned into my brain. I watched the Twin Towers explode, burn & collapse but never really connected with the hundreds of people who were fighting for survival & those who attempted to rescue them inside of those buildings. 102 Minutes... paints a vivid picture of these courageous souls' struggles & the obstacles they encountered while trying to reach safety. After reading this book, those images are now viewed from a totally different perspective. I no longer just see structures but focus on the lives saved & lost within. This book is unforgettable.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2011

    Highly Recommend

    This book really puts you in the place of what happened, the horror and pain and fear that gripped everyone involved.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2009

    102 Minutes, Remembering the unspoken heroes

    102 Minutes is a well researched, interesting book. It is details stories of individuals while still progressing through the events of 9/11. It was informative and though some legal parts were dull, they were spread out enough to keep the flow of the story. I liked reading about personal stories of people who were actually there instead of a generic history. I would recommend this book to anyone, but I would keep in mind that the book can be sad especially if you know someone who was in or near the Twin Towers on 9/11 or if you were there yourself. I think that 102 minutes did a great job of telling some of the stories of the unspoken heroes whose job was not to save lives but who did so anyway, many at the cost of their own lives. We owe them the honor of remembering them, and that is exactly what 102 Minutes did.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2012

    Riveting

    This book tells stories that have never been told. It puts the reader on the floors above the impact, from the eyes of a man who saw the plane coming, the 1st Responders and the survivors. We must never forget!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2005

    This book was very dry

    I thought this book would be excellent but it was very dry. It was work to get through and I could not even make myself finish it. There were a million names on one page and it got overwhelming. I do not reccomend it. There was the occasional juicy part but most of it was boring and dry.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2012

    Well researched account of the events of the terriorist attack on The Twin Towers

    The detailed account of this attack was informative and riviting.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2012

    Thorough Report

    This is a great book that tells the 9/11 personal experience story. The day was so confusing that I can see how many conspiracy theories developed. I don't know what happened in all the reaches of the world that brought us to this day, but this book illuminates the stories of some of the people that lived & some that died & shows us that some of those conspiritorial theories are dispelled by first hand accounts. It is dense with those stories & has a good timeline of the events of the day. It reflects the ordinary heroism that was characteristic of many regular people that day as well as the bravery of the first repsonders who went in to rescue the people inside. I'm reading it again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2011

    Good Information

    This book was good. Dragged a little bit here and there and I found myself skipping paragraphs here and there because I felt like it was kinda rambling but overall it had alot of good information in it. I didnt really know a ton of background on 9/11 and the world trade centers and this book was eye opening to what really was going on and what really happened. Good book.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2011

    Recommended reading

    I thought it was a good book. However, I found it difficult to keep up with all of the people whose story was being told. It jumped back and forth too much. I am glad I read it. The stories were heart wrenching.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 26, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Struggle to Survive

    102 Minutes was an emotional and amazing book. It showed personal accounts of victims, heroes, survivors, and more involved in the tragedy on September 1, 2001. Information is gathered through sent emails, phone calls, and interviews. This displayed the horrifying events that unfolded 9/11, at a deeper, more intense, and personal level. You meet people who show up to work as usual and how drastically and quickly their entire life changes. You meet average people, like Stephen Miller, or handicapped people, and the numerous heroes that gave their life to save thousands, such as Frank De Martini. I thoroughly enjoyed but was heartbroken by the stories of the heroes and citizens that were inside the Twin Towers the day of the attack. Thousands of Americans experienced the terror from the TV screen or from the outside but few could feel the way the victims in the inside felt. There was a lot of research put into the people and the feelings of them and their families during those 102 minutes. The authors also put in so much vivid detail, the way the tower was built, how it changed from the 1993 bombing, the inability of the police and firemen to coordinate and make a uniform plan for escape, etc. These are the type of things that added the extra detail and made it easy for the audience to visualize the horror that was taking place in the Twin Towers. Despite the emotional and astonishing stories, I felt that so much was crammed into the book. There were so many people and it began getting hard to figure out who was who and what happened to them earlier. I would only change the amount of personal accounts they focused on and narrow it down to a few main stories. I definitely think this is worth reading. I would recommend to anyone. It brings 9/11 back alive. It is emotional and intense but amazing to see the way victims handled the day with such composure and bravery. The amount of courage it takes to survive or help others seems to be the theme of this book. All the accounts in this story show what it takes to have courage and survive. Even if they did not make it out of the towers, they were brave. The courage of the people involved in this is beyond what most of us can imagine. This book is 4 stars out of 5. It is meticulously researched and so vivid. It is a moving book that is hard to put down, a must read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 26, 2011

    A Heart-Stopping Book

    102 Minutes by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn is the story of the events that unfolded at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, told from the people on the inside. Clips and excerpts from millions of phone calls, texts, emails, and later interviews were put together into one to show the struggles people faced to survive inside the Twin Towers during those minutes of disaster. The story begins on that morning, at if it was just another Tuesday like any other. You're introduced to people as they arrive for work and begin their morning routines, like Frank de Martini, a man who worked in the North Tower. You also learn about the many workers and people attending a conference at the Windows on the Worlds restaurant on the 106th and 107th floors in the North building. As the morning and story progresses you read fearful as the first tower is hit and the panic spreads quickly through the tower and next door into the South Tower. Many questions arise in the first few minutes after the first tower is hit and you read in horror as the South Tower is told "Building 2 is secure. There is no need to evacuate Building 2." (72) just minutes before Building 2 itself was struck by United Flight 175. The rest of the story the heart wrenching and saddening events as people fight to make it out of the Twin Towers alive before their collapse. The novel also tells about the building errors and cut corners that were taken to save money during the building stage and contributed greatly to the imminent fall. The subject in this book is bravery which contributes to the theme that extraordinary amounts of bravery were seen on this day during the attacks. Both showed bravery as they fought to not only save themselves but also the others around them like the ten colleagues that carried quadriplegic John Abruzzo down from the 69th floor. This reoccurring message seen throughout the book captivates you in a way that tugs at your heart and emotions, making it unable to put down the book once you have begun. The firsthand material from the midst of the disaster itself makes the book even more personal as you meet the people and become connected with their situations and struggles. But within the drama and disaster of the story Dwyer and Flynn go deep into the politics, contracts, and corruption that surrounded the World Trade Center which became confusing and hard to follow at times. 102 Minutes is a must read that tugs on your emotions and captivates your heart and mind, you will not be able to stop turning the pages as the events unfold before your eyes. Although this book contains some graphic images and controversial statements biased to the authors point of view. Another work related to the tragedy of 9/11 that must be read is called Touching Home by Lynn Spencer. I give this powerful story a overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars and think that everyone should read this book to be reminded of the great sacrifices that were made that terrible day.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 23, 2011

    Intense!

    I'm over halfway through this book and truly appreciate all the research the authors did to bring us the details of the 102 minutes. My only disappointment is that in the eBook version I was unable to read the informational diagrams as they are absolutely tiny. I actually borrowed a hard copy from the library so I could see what I was missing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 21, 2011

    Amazed!

    I had not read any of these facts and was totally captivated and engaged. This is a fascinating book but the information makes the losses of 9/11 even more tragic!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2011

    Riveted!

    My family was residing out of the US when 9-11 happened. I read this book just before the September 2011 happenings in NYC, Washington, DC and PA. This account about the Twin Towers kept me riveted throughout my reading. Emotions of extreme sadness washed over me often, especially when I realized that both towers were gone within the titled "102 Minutes!" Dwyer and Flynn's words drew the reader into the experience without morbidity. I'm thankful for their care in researching and reporting these events, especially as we remember ALL those impacted by 9-11.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 12, 2011

    We'll never forget

    Well today is the tenth aniversory of 9/11 and they are rebuilding the WTC and making a momoreal for the fallen out of where the towers use to stand and making them into the worlds largest man made water fall and im glad that they are doing that i dont have this book

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 6, 2011

    This book will take a great deal of courage for me to read

    I read parts of this when it was originally published. I bought the book and will read it some time in what I hope will be the very near future - when I am able to work up the courage to open the cover. Based on what I read previously, I can say, without any reservations, that this is one of the most powerful pieces of literature you will ever read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 136 Customer Reviews

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