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Publisher's Summary

A New York Times best seller

What would you do in the last hour of your life?

The story of Welles Crowther, whose actions on 9/11 offer a lasting lesson on character, calling, and courage 

One Sunday morning before church, when Welles Crowther was a young boy, his father gave him a red handkerchief for his back pocket. Welles kept it with him that day and just about every day to come; it became a fixture and his signature. 

A standout athlete growing up in Upper Nyack, New York, Welles was also a volunteer at the local fire department along with his father. He cherished the necessity and the camaraderie, the meaning of the role. Fresh from college, he took a Wall Street job on the 104th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center, but the dream of becoming a firefighter with the FDNY remained. 

When the Twin Towers fell, Welles' parents had no idea what happened to him. In the unbearable days that followed, they came to accept that he would never come home. But the mystery of his final hours persisted. Eight months after the attacks, however, Welles' mother read a news account from several survivors, badly hurt on the 78th floor of the South Tower, who said they and others had been led to safety by a stranger carrying a woman on his back, down nearly 20 flights of stairs. After leading them down, the young man turned around. "I'm going back up" was all he said. 

The survivors didn't know his name, but despite the smoke and panic, one of them remembered a single detail clearly: The man was wearing a red bandanna. 

Tom Rinaldi's The Red Bandanna is about a fearless choice, about a crucible of terror and the indomitable spirit to answer it. Examining one decision in the gravest situation, it celebrates the difference one life can make. 

©2016 Tom Rinaldi (P)2016 Penguin Audio

Featured Article: In the Oral Histories of 9/11, Grief, Hope, and Heroism Find a Voice


Memories passed down through storytelling have been a vital part of culture since the dawn of civilization, and we've all had moments of pained reminiscence: Where were you on that day? There are few accounts more powerful than audio recollections of the lived histories of 9/11—their words, their voices, their stories all ensure we will never forget, that the passage of time will never erode the memory of those loved, lost, and left behind.

What listeners say about The Red Bandanna

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  • Overall
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a moving and inspiring story of one hero

t is impossible to read the story of Welles Crowther without feeling inspired to be better. This man was a hero in every sense of the word. As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches I have been doing a lot of reflecting, watching documentaries and reading... reminding myself of the lessons learned that day.

As a young boy, Welles was given a red bandana by his father. Years later he still carried one, and it had become his signature. on September 11, 2001, he was working on the 104th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. When the plane hit he tied his bandana around his mouth and nose and located the only open stairway. But he didn't leave. He made his way to find others, led them to safety, even carrying one woman on his back. And then he went back up to help others. They lived. He didn't. But although they didn't know his name they remembered him by his red bandana.

His story is an emotionally impactful and difficult one to read. I remember watching those tower collapse. The writing isn't perfect, but the story more than makes up for it. You cannot exit this book without a renewed desire to do good in the world.

1 person found this helpful

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Be Prepared to Cry

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Wow. Wow. Wow. What a story. This will stay in your heart for a long, long time.

1 person found this helpful

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700 minutes too long

Tom Rinaldi is of ESPN fame and regularly creates gripping, outstanding 30 and 60 minute segments on topics that go beyond the sports field. Tom tells an interesting story here of Wells Krauther (sp?) that would have been awesome if told in 30-60 minutes. Instead, Tom takes a 30-60 minute idea and realizes a book of that length won't sell, and thus stretches it to 6.5 hours - still pretty short for a book.

If you can find a summary of this book, it's likely worth reading. The 60 minute vision would have me highly interested the whole time. The 750 minute version was tedious.

3 people found this helpful

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Incredibly Inspiring

The narrator’s voice intoned every chapter perfectly. Wells’ story is now out there and will continue to spread to all ages. Thank you to everyone who made this book possible from the author to the parents of such a selfless young man.

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A beautiful tribute

A moving story. Every citizen needs to hear or read this book, especially now 20 years later to know what we have in our country is so real and so special. To the authors and the family…Thank You. We will never forget.

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It didn't grasp my attention

I was reading this for my summer reading book but I struggled to finish it, the book couldn't get me immersed into it. it just felt like I was daydreaming through all of it.

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We won’t forget Welles

Incredible story. Incredible narration. Tom Rinaldi at his best. An amazing tribute to a true hero.

We won’t forget Welles.

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Extraordinary!

Superbly written and narrated by master Tom Rinaldi, this is a book that should be mandatory reading for all older high school students. It’s more than simply patriotic - Welles is an example of someone willing to sacrifice a full life ahead for himself to save the lives of strangers. It’ll cause shivers up your spine. I strongly recommend.

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Sad and Wonderful

I already knew Welles story, having heard/read it thru the past 19 years, as well as seeing the movie about him. But this book sheds much more light and info about his life amd family and growing up, in much greater detail. Its amazing what he did and how by all accounts, he had a great future ahead. Yet he put others ahead of him right until the end. Also sad to hear his fathers passing a couple years ago after so much anguish, but at least they are together again.

Also phenominal job by Tom Rinaldi in his work on this book and how wonderfully its written.

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Amazing Story About Selfless Sacrafice & Heroism

This is not the typical type of book I would listen to...I'm more of a fiction listener about survival and patriotism. My wife had found this book in the kids version and thought my son would really enjoy it. After hearing her describe I decided to listen to it so I could talk to my son about it when he finished it.

I have to say that I was completely blown away and could not stop listening to it. The narrator does an amazing job telling the story about the life and legacy of Welles Crowther and countless sacrifices he made throughout his life, including the ultimate sacrifice he made to save others on 9-11.

I highly recommend this book to everyone as even those who don't posses a sense of duty will find inspiration in this story.