Finding John by Andrew Serra was heartbreaking, terrifying, and a great piece of investigative reporting. Serra was a member of the New York Fire Department's Red Hook Engine 279 and Ladder 131. My brother who is retired from the FDNY also served in that house on 9/11. He felt the book was important enough to send copies to all his siblings (and there are a lot of us).
Serra tells the story of his experience at Ground Zero, not only on 9/11 but also in the months that followed. Most people are aware of the events surrounding the fall of the Twin Towers but few have heard the story of the months of work on the Pile. Every day for many, many months after firefighters were detailed to work on the Pile. Many also worked it on their time off. Serra describes finding a fellow fight fighter, John Tipping II, in the debris. Tipping was a member of Engine 54 and Ladder 4.
When the towers collapsed, so did much of the structure around them. Ladder 4 was parked next to one of the buildings. As the buildings collapsed so did the sidewalks around them talking Ladder 4 with them. Ladder 4 come to rest, mostly intact, several levels down on the shopping mezzanine. A prominent writer who spent the year following the attacks with the engineers and construction crews made the claim that looting had occurred by firefighters before they went in to save those they could. He based this claim on someone telling him that pairs of new jeans had been found in Ladder 4. Every single member of Ladder 4 died on 9/11 and now their names were being tarnished by hearsay.
Serra does a fantastic job of investigative journalism. He proves with eyewitness testimony plus the help of Charles Pelligrino, a scientific writer that the members of Ladder 4 went directly to their deaths that day. They did not stop for anything, even the realization that they probably would not survive. This book is a must read. Not only for the investigative journalism but also for the eyewitness view of the aftermath of 9/11. Serra shares his experiences working the pile, attending many of the 343 funerals, watching FDNY's members contract the illness from working the pile. I highly recommend Finding John. I would suggest to Serra that he and his publisher look into having an audiobook made. With a good narrator, Finding John can find a whole new audience.