Don’t Look Back: The 343 FDNY Firefighters Killed on 9-11 and the Fight for the Truth


The mother of a FDNY firefighter killed on 9/11 teams up with a crusading journalist to fight City Hall and uncover the truth about why over 300 firefighters perished during the World Trade Center attack.

Don’t Look Back is a thriller that takes readers into the hearts and minds of a FDNY family who lost their son during 9/11, and set out on a mission to find out what really happened to him and the other 342 firefighters who perished needlessly. Sarah Murphy, a savvy community organizer from the Bronx, teams up with a local investigative reporter and other 9/11 families as they take on City Hall to unearth the failures at the FDNY. In this fast-paced novel by former Daily News investigative reporter, Joe Calderone, the families risk everything to expose a corruption scandal that put faulty radios in the hands of the FDNY, leading to the worst loss of life in the history of the department. This compelling story, based on true events, takes a different perspective on a worldwide event and gives voice to the 343 members of the FDNY who perished, largely unaware that the buildings were about to come down upon them.

Advance Praise for ‘Don’t Look Back’

Don’t Look Back (Post Hill Press), was selected as a “Best New in Paperback” by People Magazine, which named it a “People picks” and called the book “a suspenseful, eye-opening thriller about the firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11…” Dan’s Papers called the novel “a riveting read…”

“A crisply written page-turner, “Don’t Look Back” is a story of tragedy, tenacity, and the continued importance of a free press. From the terror of the final moments inside the World Trade Center towers, to the incompetence that doomed hundreds of city firefighters, to the principled mutiny inside a major newspaper to get that story out, the story never lets up. Calderone writes with moving affection and respect for the blue-collar men and women who do the hard work in our democracy, who fight to preserve it, and who sometimes pay for that struggle with their lives.”

–Mark Bowden, author, Black Hawk Down

“Joe Calderone, one of the city’s great reporters, uses those skills in a brilliantly suspenseful novel about 9/11,  the city’s worst tragedy, and the first responders who lost their lives that day and their families’ search for the truth.”

–Nick Pileggi, author Wiseguy and its screenplay, Goodfellas

“Joe Calderone is a former NY Daily News investigative reporter who knows his stuff when it comes to the FDNY and he has crafted a novel that helps shine a light on the incredible challenges and sacrifices firefighters made on 9/11, including the 343 members of the FDNY we lost that day under the most tragic of circumstances. There were communication failures on 9/11 that no doubt contributed to the loss of life and this novel will help remind us to not repeat those mistakes ever again. Calderone has done the FDNY a service.”

Michael Regan, former First Deputy Commissioner, FDNY 

“This is a novel about the most painful day in New York City history and its aftermath, as reporters and investigators struggled to uncover the official blunders of Rudy Giuliani’s City Hall that made a tragic day worse. Joe Calderone uses all his tools as one of New York’s best investigative reporters, as well as a panoramic knowledge of the city, to offer a vivid tale of people in search of a difficult truth.” —Tom Robbins, Pulitzer Prize finalist and Investigative Journalist In Residence at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY