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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 344

The Red Bandanna: A life, A Choice, A Legacy is a nonfiction book by writer Tom Rinaldi. The book was published in 2016, days before the anniversary of 9/11. The book centers on Welles Crowther, a man who saved many people during the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. Welles was a star football player and volunteer firefighter from Upstate New York, and he was working in the South Tower when the terrorist attacks happened. Welles had always worn a red bandanna in his back pocket, and this became a trademark style associated with his identity.

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Rinaldi details the life and times of Crowther from his childhood to his young adulthood. It offers a multidimensional portrait of the book's subject, which is especially interesting since many of the people Crowther saved did not know his name—many couldn't even make out his face in the thick smoke. The book also offers insights on Crowther's experiences and how those experiences built his character, which he would later use to perform heroic deeds on September 11th.

One of the most memorable parts of the book is the section that details Crowther's upbringing in Upper Nyack, New York. Crowther is painted as an all-American boy who plays football at his high school. Crowther's family portrait is also painted vividly by Rinaldi through interviews and extensive research. Crowther's family background, especially his relationship with his father, provides valuable insight into the his character: he was raised to be community-oriented and to always give to others.

The arc of the narrative allows readers to see how the the selflessness that was instilled in Crowther during his youth was tested when he faced a fatal situation on 9/11. We learn that his background as a volunteer firefighter was also instrumental in keeping calm during an intense situation, whilst also knowing what techniques to use to save the people's lives.

Although the book occasionally veers into the philosophical, Rinaldi doesn't write in a completely sentimental tone. Ultimately, Rinaldi is able to successfully balance factual and emotional storytelling to honor an American hero.

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