2002-11-09 / Front Page

Local Launches Rockaway Book

Local Launches Rockaway Book

Rockaway resident Kevin Boyle’s book, "Braving The Waves ~ Rockaway Rises And Rises Again" has landed in Rockaway. The much-anticipated work by the one-time Wave editor is the story of those who raced to save others on September 11 and then did the same two months later when Flight 587 crashed here. It’s also a book full of Rockaway history and the story of the generosity of strangers.

Soon after the second deadliest plane crash in U.S. history crashed in Rockaway in November of 2001—-a scant 61 days after September 11,--- the media crashed here, too. Although that seemed like a hit and run. Call it a sign of the times. Normally, a plane crash of such magnitude and mystery would dominate nightly news for months. But because of the continuing aftermath 9-11, anthrax attacks, the war in Afghanistan, the collapse of Enron, and suicide bombings, the media moved on.

But Kevin Boyle didn’t. Boyle decided to write a book after sensing that Rockaway and its people would soon be forgotten. He had had an insider’s advantage. He heard the stories slow that are slow to emerge, good ones that come at the corner mailbox or checkout line or even on a barstool.

In "Braving The Waves ~ Rockaway Rises And Rises Again," Boyle tells of ordinary people who did extraordinary things on September 11. And then again on November 12.

Boyle told The Wave, "No other community suffered the losses Rockaway did; no other community supplied as many heroes."

Rockaway, surrounded by water, has had its history carved by fire. Boyle begins each chapter of his book with a significant fire that not only altered the landscape but the dynamics of the peninsula. And there’s more than just fire. With fire comes something other than death and destruction. Those who come to put the fires out. Firefighters, volunteers, and citizens looking to help. The fires are, of course, historical precursors of what is to come in the fall of 2001---when the Twin Towers burned and people came to put them out. When Belle Harbor homes burned with jet fuel and people came to put them out.

Boyle follows nearly a dozen story lines, providing a cross-section of characters that are representative of larger groups. There are regular firefighters, a chief, a retired firefighter, a couple of Wall Street brokers, the parish priest, a Con Edison worker, and some folks in Rockaway as they await word on loved ones and friends. "It was very difficult trying to figure out whose stories to tell. I’ve presented the stories of just a handful of people here knowing full well there are more stories to be told, stories that should be told. And hopefully, will be told," Boyle said. "This could have been a much longer book---there are many, many heroes and inspirational people in our midst."

A book proposal by Boyle drew interest from a number of New York publishers but Rising Star Press in Scotts Valley, California was first to commit and showed the kind of interest and sensitivity that Boyle sought, so he signed on. Rising Star’s publisher, Donna Jacobsen, said, "There is an important accounting to be made here on behalf of the people of Rockaway. Kevin Boyle was concerned that the story be handled carefully and respectfully, and that resonated with me. You can assure anyone that I feel the weight of that responsibility. "

In addition to researching the historical aspects of the book through dusty archives at The Wave and the Queens library, Boyle had to meet with a number of people directly affected by September 11 and the plane crash in Belle Harbor. "I was nervous about approaching people because I know much of the media can be, and had been, overly aggressive. I had to express condolences and then ask if they’d mind share excruciating events."

Boyle was timid but soon relieved. "The people I spoke with were so generous. So helpful. I’m really indebted to them all. Tom Lawler and the Heerans, for instance. These people suffered real losses and showed me nothing but courage, fortitude, toughness and tenderness. I remain in awe of them."

And so while much of the mainstream media chose to seek other stories, Boyle has

written what might be the definitive book about Rockaway in these turbulent times. In a sneak-peak review, The Wave wrote, "What makes Boyle's book so compelling is that it is, pure and simple, Rockaway, Rockaway and more Rockaway." Howard Schwach, present Wave editor said, "If there is one book that I will keep for my two grandsons to help them understand the impact of the attack on the World Trade Center on Rockaway, Boyle's book is the one to do the job."

Although reviewers at The Wave might be biased, "Braving The Waves" has gotten advance praise from notables such as Tim Russert (NBC – Meet The Press) and Brian Williams (Anchorman MSNBC, NBC) and David Brooks (The Weekly Standard).

The book, a hardcover, is available online (Amazon.com and RisingStarPress.com), by calling the publisher (1-888-777-2207), at bookstores everywhere, and will be available at The Wave office and likely at local gift shops. Proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit The Graybeards--- a local non-profit dedicated to helping those in need.

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