Fall and Rise Book Summary By Mitchell Zuckoff

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Fall and Rise (2019) is a remarkable, compelling account of the events that unfolded on September 11, 2001.

From the tragedy of four commercial airliners hijacked by terrorists under the direction of Osama bin Laden to the strength demonstrated by all those involved in the aftermath, it tells an unforgettable story.

Told through the eyes of ordinary men and women, as well as children affected by these catastrophic events, Fall and Rise is a book about courage, fear and resilience that will stay with you long after reading.

It is a moving tribute to all those lost on 9/11 and an inspiring reminder that hope can emerge from even the darkest moments.

Fall and Rise Book

Book Name: Fall and Rise (The Story of 9/11)

Author(s): Mitchell Zuckoff

Rating: 4.3/5

Reading Time: 26 Minutes

Categories: Book Summaries

Author Bio

Mitchell Zuckoff is an accomplished journalist and author with a wealth of experience in both fields.

On the day of the 9/11 attacks, he was there to cover it for the Boston Globe.

He has since gone on to write seven non-fiction books, one of which, 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, was a best-seller.

His latest book is Fall and Rise: A Story of American Resilience in the Face of Disaster.

9/11: Stories Of Courage, Survival, And Loss


The headlines about the terrible events of September 11, 2001 may have faded over time, but the pain and suffering of those affected are still as real and personal today as they were then.

With Fall and Rise: An in-depth look at 9/11 and its aftermath, readers can go beyond the often surface-level news stories to meet the real people affected by this tragedy.

Within its pages, you’ll discover firsthand accounts from employees on that fateful day who first raised alarms; a window into why the Air Force struggled to respond to the hijackings; and even an inspiring tale of luck amidst tragedy involving Ladder Company 6.

But most importantly, you’ll meet numerous individuals touched by this tragedy—heroes who risked their lives to help others in need; grieving families that lost loved ones that day; and everyday people who simply find a way to survive with courage and resilience.

The September 11 Attacks Were The Result Of Years Of Careful Planning And Execution

The terrorist attacks of September 11th were no quick scheme.

They were the culmination of years of planning and perfidious plotting by those affiliated with al-Qaida, most notably Osama bin Laden.

Beginning in 1998, bin Laden issued a formal fatwa declaring war against the United States and its citizens worldwide.

His involvement in other attacks on US interests throughout the late 90’s prompted more serious attention from US intelligence services.

His foot soldiers, led by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, formulated a master plan called the Planes Operation to hijack 10 planes and target both coasts of America.

Although Bin Laden tempered the plan at its inception in 1999, it became clear that success would require specially trained individuals knowledgeable with life abroad and equipped with travel visas to enter the United States.

In the fall of 2000 Mohamed Atta returned to Germany from Afghanistan then later arrived in Florida where he began studying piloting by summer’s end.

He was accompanied by 16 additional men prepped for close combat while his counterpart, who had prior flight experience, was appointed as the fourth pilot.

And so it seemed everything was set until spring 2001 when impatience caused Bin Laden to demand an imminent execution date for their mission – which wasn’t realized until August when Atta officially chose September 11th as the impending doom day.

Speed And Coordination Crucial To Terrorist Attack Plan On September 11, 2001

The coordinated speed and precision of the 9/11 attacks was essential in allowing them to be successful.

By taking off within a short time span, the hijackers were able to stay far enough ahead of any opposition forces or countermeasures while they carried out their mission.

Even before Betty Ong’s phone call from Flight 11 at 8:19am alerted the world to the unfolding events, the other three flights had already taken off carrying their own squads of hijackers.

This level of specificity and accuracy enabled the team of terrorists to complete their objective without interference or discovery – something that could have easily been prevented with faster communication between air traffic control and law enforcement.

Their quick decision making and combined effort allowed them to carry out a devastatingly effective plan that shocked an entire nation.

Miscommunication And Lack Of Information Delayed An Appropriate Military Response To The Attacks On 9/11

Attacks On 9/11

When the air traffic controllers at Boston Control lost contact with American Flight 11 at 8:14 a.m.

on September 11th, they continued to try and make contact without realizing that the plane had been hijacked.

When the plane’s transponder was switched off at 8:21 a.m., any information about its location, speed and altitude were no longer available.

This caused major delays in getting the information needed to mount any kind of military response as no one knew what was happening or where it was happening.

When controller Peter Zalewski heard a transmission from the hijacker ordering passengers to be quiet, he didn’t immediately realize that this meant Flight 11 had been taken over by terrorists.

If he had, crucial time would have been saved in responding effectively to the threat.

Major Kevin Nasypany, who was commander of Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), took steps to get authorization for two F-15 fighter jets from Otis Air National Guard Base to be launched but there were problems with protocol on both sides – FAA and NEADS operated in different languages which led to misinterpretation and contradictory messages being sent back and forth between them.

These miscommunications further stalled their efforts and resulted in a delayed response from military personnel when Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m..

In fact, Major Nasypany only discovered about it when he saw news reports about it on CNN!

Our Lives Can Be Changed In An Instant By Unforeseen Circumstances

On September 11th, 2001, millions of people around the world watched in horror as airliners struck the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

At approximately 8:46 a.m., American Flight 11 hit the North Tower, instantly killing everyone on board and an unknown number of those inside the building.

Those still inside were confused and uncertain, as they received a bewildering array of conflicting information about what was taking place.

Meanwhile, 911 lines were flooded with calls from those trapped inside, who desperately sought assurance that help was coming to save them.

But while security guards assured civilians in the South Tower to remain in place, some chose to ignore this advice and evacuate anyway.

In their fear and confusion, some either fell or jumped to their deaths as fires spread through the buildings.

On one fateful day then, 47-year-old Guyanese immigrant Stan Praimnath found himself caught between conflicting stories: nothing at all from United Flight 175 heading towards his office in the South Tower; warnings from colleagues that he should evacuate straight away; and security guards claiming it was safe to stay put.

Skeptical of these contradictory messages, Stan remained loyal to the authority figures and ride up an elevator back to his desk — just moments before United Airlines Flight 175 struck at 9:03 a.m..

By trusting his instincts rather than outside sources amidst extreme uncertainty, Stan managed to crawl out alive into safety – thanks also to Brian Clark’s voice guiding him through momentous smoke and debris – but not everyone was as lucky that day when faced with such complexity and doubt among different sources of information concerning the terrible attacks on the World Trade Center towers.

The Attack On The Pentagon Showed How Quickly America Could Unite In Times Of Crisis

The events of September 11, 2001 sent a stark message to the world: America was at war.

Millions watched as the second plane hit the South Tower in New York City, and Dave Tarantino, a 35-year-old Navy doctor who was working in the Pentagon, immediately recognized Osama Bin Laden’s involvement.

He knew that a third plane would be on its way to his location.

Little did he know that at 8:54 a.m., air traffic controllers out of Indianapolis Center had noticed an unauthorized turn from American Airlines Flight 77 and divested their transponder signal, assuming that the plane had suffered from mechanical failure.

The controllers hadn’t been informed of the crisis happening in New York and so there were no warnings given.

Unfortunately it was not until 9:37 a.m.

that AA Flight 77 struck the west wall of the Pentagon and killed all 59 passengers on board as well as dozens of Pentagon workers who were left with only minutes to evacuate before flames and toxic smoke filled up their workplace.

The Heroic Passengers And Crew Of United Flight 93 Sacrificed Their Lives To Prevent Another Terrorist Attack

Terrorist Attack

The scheduled departure of United Flight 93 had already been delayed from 8:00 a.m.

to 8:42 a.m., but little did its passengers and crew know that this minor delay may have made the difference between success and failure for the terrorists’ plot.

Hijackers on board the plane knew they wouldn’t be able to reach their intended target, so they resorted to Plan B: crashing it into the ground.

The heroic actions of both crew members and passengers, however, led them to attack the hijackers in an attempt to regain control of the cockpit, preventing a fourth terrorist attack from taking place.

At 9:28 a.m., air traffic controllers were alerted that another hijacking was in progress while at 10:03 a.m., United 93 nosedived into a field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania – taking 40 brave men and women with it who gave their lives in order to save countless others.

Thanks to their courageous act, no further damage was done beyond what had already been done due to the ill-fated events of that day on September 11th 2001.

The Heroic Sacrifice Of New York’S First Responders On 9/11

On that fateful day of September 11, 2001, hundreds of first responders rushed toward the towers at ground zero in New York City with no regard for their own safety, determined to save as many people as possiblewhile the rest of the world was fleeing in fear.

The magnitude of the destruction from two passenger planes hitting the Twin Towers made success nearly impossible—yet they pushed on regardless.

These brave firefighters, police officers, and paramedics were never given credit for what they did throughout and immediately following 9/11 until Fire Department Deputy Chief Vincent Dunn admitted in 1999 that it could be impossible to extinguish a high-rise inferno due to lack of water supplies and height.

Even though this prophecy ultimately came true, first responders courageously tried anyway to fight the blaze and rescue civilians trapped inside.

One such hero was Captain Jay Jonas of Ladder Company 6 who remained in the North Tower after the South had collapsed.

Knowing what could happen at any minute, Captain Ellis made sure that his injured colleague Josephine Harris, who was struggling to make it down all 20 flights of stairs from which they started their descent, made her way safely amongst his group.

When all seemed lost during Tower Two’s fall at 10:38 am, amazingly enough – all twelve members of Ladder 6 survived – primarily thanks to Captain Jonas’ selfless leadership under such insurmountable odds.

Wrap Up

The main message of Fall and Rise is to never forget those who were impacted by the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

Those who survived and those who lost their lives must be remembered for their bravery and courage.

Whatever their roles were, whether they were firefighters or office workers, or simply innocent bystanders – it’s important to look back at the stories from that day to celebrate the acts of heroism and remember those we’ve lost.

Fall and Rise doesn’t just document the significant events of 9/11 – it reminds us to keep these memories alive in our hearts forever.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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