Book Reviews

Go To Hopkins & Company Homepage

Go to Executive Times Archives


Go to Book Review List


Heart of a Soldier: A Story of Love, Heroism and September 11th by James B. Stewart


Rating: (Highly Recommended)


Click on title or picture to buy from



He Gave His Life

Each person killed on September 11 at the World Trade Center, or at the Pentagon or in rural Pennsylvania, had a personal story, a character, a uniqueness. The sweeping events of the day and the tragedy of what happened becomes more vivid when we learn those individual stories. James B. Stewart presents a biography of Rick Rescorla in his new book Heart of a Soldier: A Story of Love, Heroism and September 11th. If there’s one book you decide to read about 9/11, make it this one.

We read biographies to examine life as it can be lived. Rick Rescorla lived life, and lived it fully. He led soldiers into battle in Vietnam after showing them how they could become the best. They were. They knew he would not ask them to do anything he would not do himself. They knew he cared for each of them, as individuals. When the planes hit the World Trade Center on 9/11, Rick was head of security for Morgan Stanley. He successfully evacuated 2,700 people from the building. He turned around at the tenth floor and headed back up to be sure they was no one overlooked. Shortly after he made that choice, the building collapsed.

The fine writing of James Stewart brings us through the life of Rick Rescorla that by the time 9/11 arrives, we know Rick and his character very well. It comes as no surprise that he began to evacuate Morgan Stanley employees while the Port Authority told everyone in the building to go back to their desks, since the plane hit the other building. Thanks to his decision, almost everyone from Morgan Stanley ended 9/11 alive.

Here’s an excerpt from the last third of the book, of a conversation between Rick and life-long friend Dan Hill:

“Later, Hill and Rescorla mused about their lives. ‘Could we have been more than we became?’ Rescorla asked. Back in Africa, sitting out under the stars, they had such grand plans. Now Hill was working in construction, Rescorla in security, waiting to retire.
 ‘But look at you,’ Hill protested. ‘You’re a lawyer, an author, a vice president of a big financial firm.’
 ‘Yeah,’ Rescorla conceded. ‘But none of that matters very much.’ He looked into his drink. ‘In my heart, I’ve always been a soldier.’
Rescorla was formally inducted into the Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame in a ceremony the nest day. Hill noticed that Rescorla was doing his best to suck in his stomach to look thin. Afterward, there was a reception under a big tent set up near the parade ground. Then Kelly pulled up to drive Rescorla back to the airport in Atlanta.
Hill didn’t want to say good-bye. He didn’t know when, or if, he would see his closest friend again. Before he could say anything, Rescorla faced him and grabbed him by both of his ears. He pulled Hill close and kissed him on the forehead. ‘Don’t die before we see each other again, Danny,’ he said. Then he got into the car, and Hill watched them drive away until they disappeared.”

Hill is a fascinating character in the book, a fellow soldier. You’ll share the irony that it was Hill who proposed to the FBI that Hill and a Muslim friend head to Afghanistan to kill Osama bin Laden. They had contacts and a plan, but the FBI didn’t approve the plan.

Rick Rescorla gave his life for others. By the page in the book when Rick dies, you will grieve, coming to know him through the pages of Heart of a Soldier, and you’ll feel the loss of a real hero, a good friend, a loving husband and a great guy.

Steve Hopkins, September 25, 2002


ă 2002 Hopkins and Company, LLC


The recommendation rating for this book appeared in the November 2002 issue of Executive Times


For Reprint Permission, Contact:

Hopkins & Company, LLC • 723 North Kenilworth Avenue • Oak Park, IL 60302
Phone: 708-466-4650 • Fax: 708-386-8687