“What about another book?” The editor’s email subject line announced her overture. Who would turn down such an offer? Still, I hesitated.
She was encouraging me to expand the piece I had published about the spontaneous boat evacuation of nearly half a million people from Manhattan on September 11, 2001. I knew turning that into a book would require immersing myself for many months in the suffering and fear of a dark day in American history.
It would mean putting myself into the heads of people like ferry captain James Parese, whose over-and-back routine suddenly shifted that day from ferrying passengers to rescuing them. Instead of staying put on the safe shores of Staten Island, he made the choice, again and again, to drop lines, pull out, and steer his boat straight toward the incomprehensible hell unfolding at the tip of Manhattan.
I was wary of taking this on. A decade after the terrorist attacks, I still struggled with the psychological fallout from my service at Ground Zero.