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9-11 Book Reviews

Book Review by Ann Jonas, Tradebook Buyer - CSB/SJU Bookstores
this review was published in the St. Cloud Visitor.

Angel in the Rubble: The Miraculous Rescue of 9/11's Last Survivor by Genelle Guzman-McMillan with William Croyle

Genelle Guzman, a native of Trinidad, was a temp worker at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in September, 2001.  Her office was on the sixty-fourth floor of the 110-story North Tower of the World Trade Center. Soon after the terrorist attack on their building, as Guzman and her co-workers were on their way down the stairs, the building collapsed, trapping Guzman below the surface of the rubble, with concrete and steel beams encasing her.  For twenty-seven hours, Guzman was pinned beneath the rubble, giving her time to reflect on her life and how she had drifted from her faith.  She feared she would not survive, and decided she needed to pray, asking God to forgive some of the choices she had made and promising to change if she was rescued.

In Guzman's new book Angel in the Rubble, she tells of the angel that held her hand and stayed with her until rescue workers arrived, more than a day after the North Tower collapsed.  Guzman's narrative is an inspiring and amazing story of her rescue and her recovery, as she lives a life of faith, making good on her promises made while buried in the rubble.

 Peace Be With You: Monastic Wisdom For a Terror-Filled World by David Carlson

With the ten-year anniversary of 9/11 approaching, religious studies professor David Carlson, PhD, was teaching a course at Franklin College in Indiana on religion and violence and realized that, with the current climate of fear and hatred in the world, he couldn't offer a hopeful conclusion to his class. He felt that if revenge and retaliation were the best responses our nation could muster after 9/11 we may be in trouble.  He then began a project to visit monasteries and retreat centers across America to ask monks, nuns, and retreatants two questions: how did they respond when first learning of 9/11 and how have they continued to respond to our world of violence and terror?

Peace Be With You is the result of Carlson's more than thirty interviews with abbots, nuns, monks, and other seekers at monasteries and retreat centers. His visits included St. Michael's Skete, the Center for Action and Contemplation, and the Monastery of Christ in the Desert in New Mexico, the Abbey of Gethsemani and Sisters of Loretto in Kentucky, and Saint John's Abbey and Richard Bresnahan's Pottery Studio in Collegeville.

Carlson's reflections are thought-provoking and valuable.  His message for Christians and Muslims is to leave our current path of demonizing one another, and take the path of convergence, where we ponder Jesus' command to treat the stranger as our neighbor and to treat our neighbor as God in our midst.

A Decade of Hope: Stories of Grief and Endurance from 9/11 Families and Friends by Dennis Smith with Deirdre Smith

The lives and well-being of the 9/11 first responders, their families, and the victims' families is the focus of A Decade of Hope.  Dennis Smith, a former firefighter, interviewed twenty-five people affected by the 9/11 tragedy, seeking to discover how these suffering individuals found the courage and hopefulness to move forward in their lives.  His interviews include Congressman Peter King, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, rescue workers, and victims' family members-many from a Catholic upbringing.  Their experiences on 9/11 were all different; their stories on how they have survived and overcome their losses are all unique.  A Decade of Hope is an important look at how these twenty-five people have not only endured, but found ways to honor and remember their loved ones.

The Legacy Letters: Messages of Life and Hope From 9/11 Family Members; collected by Tuesday's Children; edited by Brian Curtis

Tuesday's Children is a non-profit organization that provides support for families of 9/11 and others impacted by global terrorism. The organization invited family members of 9/11 victims a chance to share an original letter to their lost loved ones.  The response was amazing, and editor Brian Curtis had a challenging time selecting and editing the many letters received. The Legacy Letters contains the one hundred letters chosen for publication.  Each letter is prefaced with a very brief biography of the 9/11 victim and also includes a photograph, which make the letters even more personal and tangible.  The Legacy Letters helps to put a very real face on the tragedy of 9/11.  All royalties from sales of the book will go to Tuesday's Children.