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FDNY cheers as WTC book
denied honor

A controversial book that portrayed firefighters as Ground Zero looters failed to win a prestigious literary award last night.

FDNY supporters, rallying for a third straight day outside the New School, where the National Book Critics Circle announced its annual winners, jeered author William Langewiesche - and cheered his loss.

Langewiesche's book, "American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center," contends firefighters from Ladder 4 stuffed Gap jeans into their rig during the mayhem that followed the attacks.

"This is a fictional book, basically," said FDNY Chief Ronald Spadafora. "It paints the Fire Department in a very bad light, and we don't deserve that."

Langewiesche, a correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly who lives in France, didn't show up for the awards ceremony.

His book lost out to "A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide," by Samantha Power.

Elizabeth Taylor, president of the book award panel, said the controversy had no effect on the selection process.

Derek Rose and Tamer El-Ghobashy

Originally published on February 27, 2003

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