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Author Brian McDonald

Brian McDonald is accustomed to telling other people's stories. His books have been prime sources in several television documentaries and the sole inspiration for My Father's Gun, a full-length documentary that aired on the History Channel. He grew up in New York and is a graduate of Fordham University and the Columbia School of Journalism. He contributes frequently to New York City newspapers, including The New York Times. One could say New York holds a special place in his heart, which is perhaps the reason he was drawn to the topic of the New York Fire Department in his newest book Five Floors Up.

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McDonald explores the history of four generations of a firefighter family. From the days just after the horse-drawn firetruck, to the devastation of the 1970s when the Bronx was Burning, to the unspeakable tragedy of 9/11, to the culture-busting department of today, a Feehan family member has been on duty with the FDNY. The book highlights the career of William M. Feehan. “Chief” Feehan is the only person to have held every rank in the FDNY including New York City’s 28th Fire Commissioner. He died in the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.

In this week's episode of Watching America, McDonald speaks with host Dr. Alan Campbell about his meticulous research for the book, the many interviews he conducted, and the unforgetable stories he heard about the firefighters' experiences on 9/11.

Listen to the interview at noon on Friday on WHRV FM. Or stream it online