From the Inside Out: Harrowing Escapes from the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center

11 Sep


If you’re looking for an insider’s perspective on September 11, check out From the Inside Out: Harrowing Escapes from the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. The author, Erik O. Ronningen, was the last person to escape from the South Tower after it was attacked by terrorists.

Here’s the marketing copy for the book:

Erik Ronningen was on the 71st floor of the North Tower on September 11, 2001 when American Airlines Flight 767 struck the building. After an incredible, even miraculous journey down through the acrid, smoke-filled building lit by occasional fireballs, Erik tried to get to the Security Command Center in the South Tower. Unable to do so, he was the last person to make it out of the South Tower alive.

Here is the story of his harrowing escape interwoven with the accounts of fourteen others who were lucky enough to be able to recount them.

Altogether, these accounts document the bravery and heroism, selflessness and generosity demonstrated by hundreds of people when their normal everyday lives were suddenly plunged into a fiery scramble for survival.

The astonishing photograph on the cover of this book was taken by survivor Jim Usher as he lay on the concrete outside the WTC losing consciousness, so his family could see what he saw during what he thought were the last moments of his life. And yes, that flag was really there! This photograph has never before been made public.

I happen to know the agent, who gave me an early draft of the book to read about two years ago, and I remember being impressed by the grand scope of the story. There are parts of it that have stuck with me — not only the scenes of fireballs in the elevator, but more so the quieter moments that personalize the story. Piercing the trauma are profound demonstrations of loyalty and love.

I sat down with the author, agent, and publisher, Welcome Rain, a few weeks ago, right before it went to press. The excitement buzzed in the air, as they told me about its progress and the never-before-made-public photograph being used for the cover. Last week I picked up a copy signed by the author.

The book has historical and personal importance. The stories told in the book are by people who made it out of the Twin Towers alive, but I think we all have a 9/11 story….


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