The Red Bandanna

Tom Rinaldi's The Red Bandanna is ample evidence that compelling stories about September 11, 2001, remain to be told. Following the attacks, survivors mentioned a man wearing a red bandanna who repeatedly led others to safety, only to go back up into the inferno. They didn't know who he was, only that he saved their lives. One woman read about that man and knew she had found her son.

At the heart of this remarkable account of selflessness is 24-year-old Welles Crowther, who dreamed of being a firefighter and had carried that bandanna every day since he was seven. It is a story about what defines September 11--acts of compassion, sacrifice and heroism. It is the account of an extraordinary young man, those he left behind and the lives he saved, forever bound by a red bandanna.

During President Obama's speech at the 2014 memorial museum dedication, he shared one story of valor and mentioned Welles Crowther, a volunteer firefighter, by name. His story reminds readers to bear witness; that in times of tragedy, heroes are among us and perhaps even inside us.

Rinaldi, a reporter for ESPN, writes in a straightforward manner that feels rather staid for the first portion of The Red Bandanna. But as the story shifts to 9/11 and beyond, that tone is perfect, allowing the facts to convey the drama without becoming overwrought. Grab a blanket, you're going to suffer more than one case of the chills as you work through this one. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review

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