Cover Image: American Phoenix

American Phoenix

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Member Reviews

I really liked this book. I have read a lot and watched a lot on the Twin Towers but nothing on the Pentagon, like this. It’s a well written, well informed book. It’s a sad and heartbreaking story of what happened on the day our nation was attacked on September 11, 2001. So be prepared for some graphic descriptions in places. Some of it was hard for me to take reading it, but it tells of the heroes, of that day, at the Pentagon, that jumped in to save anyone they could save.  It’s a rough book to read, but a good one. Thank you to #NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review #AmericanPhoenix with my honest opinion.
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A riveting but heartbreaking account of what happened at the Pentagon on 9/11. Much like 102 Minutes by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn, this book introduces you to key players recognized by the author and follows them on this fateful day. It’s written matter of factly but still evokes emotion (at least for me) as I remembered the events from that day. Well done and a fitting tribute to the day and the heroes involved.
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This book about 9/11 focuses solely on the Pentagon, which often gets overshadowed by the New York attacks. I learned a lot of new things, and other things I’d forgotten. It’s heartbreaking yet inspiring.

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(I think what hurts me the most is seeing the young children on Flight 77. That really drives home how barbaric and cowardly these terrorists are. The Pentagon did have a day care, but it was on the other side of the impact. The youngest victim on the ground was born in 1979.)

The author’s brother was a military physician who responded to the scene at the Pentagon. This inspired him to collect accounts and make a book. Some people declined to be interviewed, but he made it as complete as possible. He gives an account of the thoughts and actions of some of those who died. This is speculation based on deduction but feels a little odd sometimes.

With all the veterans and military personnel, this was a unique crisis zone. These people didn’t freeze up like most citizens do but instantly sprang into action. They risked their lives—some sacrificed their lives—to rescue people from the building. Many survivors heard a voice shouting to them, guiding them out like angels. Other rescuers lifted debris off people and held up walls. Craig Powell stood under a window and caught over a dozen people as they jumped out. He continued even after this injured him. He later held up a section of wall that was trying to collapse so people could get out. THAT’s heroism.

You had veterans and active duty personnel with their “no man left behind” attitude. Then the firefighters showed up and wanted to keep everyone away; they weren’t used to being ignored. Then the FBI showed up and declared the area a crime scene and wanted all rescue efforts to stop. “Screw you” kind of sums up the response to that.

Most of the book focuses on the first hour after impact. The beginning introduces a lot people, whom I was not able to remember later, so I kept having to go back and re-read their mini bios. The book is organized chronologically, not by personal accounts.

The descriptions of injuries (mostly burns) and bodies was vivid even if not that graphic. That’s going to stay with me. I referenced a lot while reading this.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher (Girl Friday Books) for an ARC.

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Language: Clean
Sexual Content: None
Violence: Terrorism of 9/11
Harm to Animals: <spoiler>None</spoiler>
Harm to Children: <spoiler>Children on board the plane die.</spoiler>
Other (Triggers): <spoiler>Traumatic injuries, PTSD</spoiler>
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This is very similar to "The Only Plane In The Sky". It was extremely well-thought out and put together in a way that flowed nicely. It's so hard to believe it's been 20 years this September. I also appreciate light being shed on the Pentagon attack because it normally is overlooked.
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I've made it my mission to read as many 9/11 books as I can find, and almost none of them focus specifically on the Pentagon. That facet alone makes this book a must read. 

These are my only criticisms in an otherwise amazing book, the front matter and maybe the first 15% of the book itself were a bit rough in my opinion, The front matter wasn't written very well and gave off a "pat myself on the back for writing this book" vibe. then the transitions from person to person in the early pages are pretty poorly written. Additionally, I think it's extremely presumptuous and inappropriate to state (not even speculate) the thoughts going on in the minds of some of the victims right before they died.

However, the choppiness in the beginning may be because until the attack, these lives weren't really connected. Once the attack happened, survival and lives became connected...and that's when I was unable to put this book down. I've read other books that included the actions of specific people that day, but the level of detail that this book goes into is unparalleled. I don't think I can state enough how just great this book is overall, and I can't recommend it enough.
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This book reminded me of The Only Plane In The Sky by Garrett M. Graff. Great accounts of one of the most tragic days in America’s history. This book brings tears to your eyes as you read about all the heroes at the Pentagon. Those that made it home and those that did not. Every single story is that of an American hero. Every person should read both this book and Graff’s similar title.
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American Phoenix consists of vignettes of the people involved in the attack on the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Most were at the Pentagon, but also those on American Airlines Flight 11 and family members around the country. It is arranged in a timeline fashion.
I had read Col. (now Senator) Brian Birdwell’s book, but knew little else about what happened at the Pentagon. The biggest impressions are the airliner’s nose, coming to rest deep in the building, and the fuselage still recognizable. The recent renovation leaving many people unfamiliar with escape routes. The FBI trying to take over the scene while rescue efforts were ongoing. The constant rumors of a second inbound plane constantly bringing everything to a halt. The construction of the Pentagon itself being skimped on during WWII, and in 2001, being hopelessly out of date and below codes.
The attack turned the west wing into a hell of fire and darkness. What the people endured is unfathomable.
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
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“That day, I saw humanity at its best and worst. Humanity doesn’t have race, creed, or color―not when you look into the very souls of people.” ―Christopher Braman, Army Sgt. 1st Class (ret.) -- just one of so many inspiring quotes in this new book about what happened when the Pentagon was struck on 9/11.  After so many books about the Twin Towers and the heroes of Flight 93, it is refreshing to finally read a work focused on the impact left on our world when Flight 77 flew into this American stronghold.   All of the events of 9/11 need to be remembered as we all proudly say when each anniversary rolls around, but until now not that much has been published about the Pentagon attack that day.  This work is filled with personal stories and tons of pain.  So many people started that day going to their office, serving our country in the military, unaware it would be their last moments on earth.  Others were unaware of what would be required of them as they became the heroes that saved the lives of those around them.  Some risked going back into the extreme heat of fire to pull others to safety.  Our president visited the wounded as they were treated in hospitals.  Not all made it.  The book concludes with every name listed.  Read this, remember them, remember the cost for our freedom so we don't repeat this part of our history.    I was able to preview this thanks to NetGalley without any commitment or obligation on my part for the type of review provided.

Plan to post Amazon review once book is released - slated for June 2021.
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This book should be a must read for every student in America. Shoot, every American should read it themselves. I'm ashamed to say that I often forget about the tragedy at the Pentagon on 9-11. I am thankful this author told the stories of the men and women who were there. After reading this book I will never forget.
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2.5 stars

I like the idea of America and its people being the phoenix rising from the ashes. I also enjoyed learning things I never knew about The Pentagon, but, I have to be honest, I had trouble getting through this book. 

I found it to be disjointed, particularly the first half. There are so many different POVs, it jumps back and forth constantly with only a paragraph or two of each perspective before it changes. It was exhausting and confusing.

It's understandable that the author wanted to include a number of people, as all of their stories deserve to be told, but the way in which it is executed has the opposite effect and takes away from each individual. It is too much to process and I couldn't remember who a single person was.

I appreciate the effort made to try and make each person as human as possible, by including some personal history and day to day life, but unfortunately they all begin to blur. There really needs to be much more told per person before the perspective changes. It's as if the short bursts are done to build tension, which considering the event, really isn't necessary.

Also, I appreciate that the story is being told following the timeline in order of events, but it isn't necessary to show for example, 9:03am at that exact moment from every single person (there are a lot). It stunts the narrative and doesn't flow well. You can still tell the reader each person's response or action at that moment, while still allowing time to pass. It would make the story much more fluid and cohesive.

Lastly, I have to say, referring to someone as "one of the lucky ones" because their death was quicker than others, truly is in terribly poor taste.

In regards to the story itself, the complete non-response at The Pentagon = mind boggling.
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This is an outstanding book. Very well written. This book fills in a lot of little spaces of what happened on 9/11 that we either forgot or didn't know.
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