Thursday, August 19, 2010

Book Review: City of Dust: Illness, Arrogance, and 9/11

Book Review: "City of Dust: Illness, Arrogance, and 9/11" by Anthony DePalma

A definite buy if you are interested in the details of the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath!

This book chronicles the lasting effects of the dust cloud that surged over Manhattan on 9/11 when the towers came down. The dust was a mixture of mercury vapor from the thousands of florescent tubes, gasses from the improperly burning jet fuel, asbestos, pulverized concrete dust from the structure itself, as well as untold hundreds of other volatile chemicals made from the burning computers, monitors, carpeting, clothing, and bodies that made up the mess at Ground Zero.

This Dust permeated buildings, schools, hallways, ductwork, and worked it’s way deep into the lungs of those that were there that day, pushing high levels of carcinogenic chemicals and concrete dust deep into their bodies. Those that worked at Ground Zero over the next three months had to deal with slowly burning jet fuel deep underground and the toxic off-gassing that came with it, breathing in even more chemicals as they worked tirelessly to rescue people and help rebuild our nation.

Not mentioned much outside of New York City, this book offers a very detailed look into the lives that have been affected by the dust cloud. It chronicles the sense of dread that hung over everyone that was there when the towers came down, the feeling of being blind when the dust clouds first hit, and the panic that even the governmental agencies felt as they took stock of the situation.

It was an unprecedented event that no one in government or business had properly prepared for. The sheer number of things that had gone wrong stupefied all the officials who were being pressured for immediate response and to come together with one resolute face to present to the public.

Our nation, led by Bush’s presidency, took a hard-line stance against the terrorists and pushed for rebuilding and recovery. We presented a strong, united front. We pushed for recovery speed over safety, strength over licking our wounds. This decision had lasting effects on those people who risked, and are now giving their lives, to help sort through the rubble.

A lot of mistakes were made, from all sides. We had never had an attack, or fought a fire like this before. The EPA did not have data on what health risks there would be for the thousands of contractors, firemen, police, and others who spent months cleaning up Ground Zero. We all hope the information gathered will never have to be used again.

My hats off to the author who presented many sides to the issue, from the businesses affected, the doctors who ran the free clinics, lawyers who sued years later, students who’s high school was shut down due to dust invasion, the firemen and police officers who felt unpatriotic wearing respirators while sifting through rubble, and the government agencies who’s own emergency response area had been destroyed in the attacks.

I think everyone should read this book. I for one am fascinated with 9/11 history, and this book provides a deep look into an ongoing facet of the attacks that still haunts America today.

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