Reverse Engineering

AMERICAN GROUND
Unbuilding the World Trade Center.
By William Langewiesche.
205 pp. New York:
North Point Press/
Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $22.

At the very end of William Langewiesche's slim but powerful account of the dismantling of the wreckage of the World Trade Center comes a story that served, at least for me, as an antidote to the overwhelming saccharinity of the recent Sept. 11 commemorations--that great "emotional bath," as one television anchor put it.

Langewiesche tells of a visit he paid this spring to a pier on Newark Bay, to watch, he writes, the heavy structural steel columns of the trade center "being sent away."
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