You know the ending of Harry Ahearn's The Collapse at the very beginning. Five men, five very good men, die. They went into a building to do their jobs...and they died. They were members of FDNY, experienced ghetto firefighters who worked out of the Fire Factory in Harlem...but they could More »
But these five men - Ben Shey, Tony Montera, Rudy Perkins, Tom O'Shaughnessy, and Brian McDermott - men of different ages and backgrounds led full, eventful, often wonderful lives before that fateful day in Harlem. They had childhood dreams and fears growing up and coming of age in New York City. They had families and friends; they had people who cared deeply about them, wives and children. They fought in the boxing ring or struggled to make it from minor to major league baseball. They fought in wars - up the Italian peninsula, in Korea, and in the jungles of Vietnam. They got drunk with their pals and pulled practical jokes at the firehouse. They fought fire and saved people's lives. The Collapse is a celebration of their lives, a tribute to ordinary men who - for whatever reason - are capable of performing their duty with extraordinary courage; it is an accolade to men who are quiet heroes every single day.
Along with Dennis Smith and Leo Stapleton, Harry Ahearn created the literature of firefighting in America with the publication of his first novel, Ghetto Firefighter. And The Collapse might be Harry Ahearn's sharpest, most carefully crafted work of fiction. If you've read any of Harry's other books, then The Collapse will move you deeply. If you haven't had the pleasure of reading Harry Ahearn, then The Collapse is a wonderful introduction.