The Story

On September 11th, 2001, exactly one hour before the first plane hit the World Trade Center, former Marine and highly decorated New York City Firefighter Tom Casatelli switched positions with his friend and mentor, Brian McAleese, on Engine Company 226. Neither man knew that when the Towers fell, Brian would pay for that small kindness with his life. And Casatelli, he’d pay for the rest of his.


With A Fine Gray Dust, Tom Casatelli is likely to emerge as the defining voice of his generation in the canon of 9/11 literature.  Although many firsthand accounts of the tragedy, while emotionally resonant, are of limited literary merit, Casatelli’s writing is on par with the story he tells.  He distills humanity from numbing pain, compassion from survivor’s guilt, and ultimately, the possibility of redemption from the indifference of horror.



Meet Tom

Father. Son. Future Husband. Marine. Firefighter. Author. Taco Maker. Wing Taster.

Born and bred in Brooklyn, Tom Casatelli turned down a scholarship to the School of Visual Arts and an apprenticeship with Abstract Expressionist Fred Mitchell to join the FDNY. He has since worked in some of New York City’s busiest firehouses and drank in some of its diviest bars. As a firefighter, he was awarded the Vincent Kane Medal of Valor in 2000 for the daring rescue of an elderly civilian from a collapsed building in Downtown Brooklyn. The account of this rescue is celebrated in the 2002 Paul Hashegan book Fire Department/ City of New York, The Bravest: An Illustrated History 1865-2002. His 9/11 story of survival has been told in the lauded 2002 Mike Lennon film Brothers on Holy Ground (narrated by the great Pete Hamill) and on Nightline with Ted Koppel.


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