Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Everyday heroes

Tomorrow is the 7th anniversary of 9/11, and ordinarily we put out a small display of our books and videos that memorialize the victims of the attack. This year, however, I thought I would point out some other books in the collection that are pertinent to the day.
Rescue Men by Charles Kenney chronicles the life of a firefighting family. Kenney's grandfather joined the Boston Fire Department in 1932 (like all good Irish boys) and responded to the devastating Cocoanut (sic) Grove nightclub fire of 1942. His father also joined the department and was seriously injured in the line of duty. His brother, a firefighter-paramedic on Cape Cod, worked at Ground Zero in the aftermath of 9/11. Kenney writes an enthralling account of what it means to be a firefighter, and the effects of the job on the family.
Population 485: meeting your neighbors one siren at a time is at the other end of the spectrum. Rather than serving in the huge Boston Fire Department, author Michael Perry is a volunteer firefighter in New Auburn, Wisconsin. A widespread collection of dairy farms and rural homes, New Auburn is one of those places where everybody knows everybody else's business. Being a firefighter/EMT in a situation like that gives you heightened access to people's private lives, and Perry's stories are fascinating from both the professional and the small-town perspective.
Blue Blood by Edward Conlon is the memoir of a 4th-generation New York City police officer. A Harvard-educated detective whose "Cop Diary" columns have appeared in The New Yorker, Conlon writes with great skill and a thorough inside knowledge about life in a big city police department. Muggings, murder, drug deals, corruption and organized crime ripple through the pages of this book.

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