The World Trade Center’s destruction unleashed one of the gravest environmental catastrophes in U.S. history. Now, former NY Times Ground Zero reporter Anthony DePalma presents a full accounting of the disaster that followed 9/11. He separates myths from reality…reveals decisions that destroyed public trust…shares victims’ untold stories…and helps us ensure this never happens again.
Of all the images of the September 11, 2001, attack on New York, the one that’s been hardest for me to shake is not the fiery flash of impact, or the harrowing sight of desperate people leaping to their deaths, or the awesome 10.52 seconds it took for the first tower to buckle and cave in on itself in a maelstrom of concrete and ash, followed incredibly by the second tower falling just as fast, a few yards away. Terrible indeed were those images, but there was also an aspect of cinematic unreality about them that has kept me distant, as though watching a movie or playing a video game. The one picture that has left an indelible scar on my heart is an unlikely photograph that my colleague Eddie Keating took of an elegant tea set he came upon in a vacated apartment near ground zero. The matching teapots, cups, and sugar bowl, perhaps set for breakfast on that achingly clear September morning, were covered with a skintight layer of dust the color of dried bones.