The astonishing story of one man’s recovery in the face of traumatic loss—and a powerful meditation on the resilience of the soul
On July 23, 2007, Dr. William Petit suffered an unimaginable horror: Armed strangers broke into his suburban Connecticut home in the middle of the night, bludgeoned him nearly to death, tortured and killed his wife and two daughters, and set their house on fire. He miraculously survived, and yet living through those horrific hours was only the beginning of his ordeal. Broken and defeated, Bill was forced to confront a question of ultimate consequence: How does a person find the strength to start over and live again after confronting the darkest of nightmares?
In The Rising, acclaimed journalist Ryan D’Agostino takes us into Bill Petit’s world, using unprecedented access to Bill and his family and friends to craft a startling, inspiring portrait of human strength and endurance. To understand what produces a man capable of surviving the worst, D’Agostino digs deep into Bill’s all-American upbringing, and in the process tells a remarkable story of not just a man’s life, but of a community’s power to shape that life through its embrace of loyalty and self-sacrifice as its most important values. Following Bill through the hardest days—through the desperate times in the aftermath of the attack and the harrowing trials of the two men responsible for it—The Rising offers hope that we can find a way back to ourselves, even when all seems lost.
Today, Bill Petit has remarried. He and his wife have a baby boy. The very existence of this new family defies rational expectation, and yet it confirms our persistent, if often unspoken, belief that we are greater than what befalls us, and that if we know where to look for strength in trying times, we will always find it. Bill’s story, told as never before in The Rising, is by turns compelling and uplifting, an affirmation of the inexhaustible power of the human spirit.
“Through incredible reporting and excellent storytelling, D'Agostino tries to answer the question of how, after losing everything, you go on with your life. A natural comparison could be made to Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, but The Rising is even more heartrending—and unexpectedly uplifting.” –GQ.com
“A thought-provoking, insightful and highly compelling read.” –Associated Press
“These crimes are almost too awful to comprehend, but in a narrative reminiscent of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, D’Agostino draws humanity through chilling detail.” –TIME.com
“In this well-crafted and ultimately inspiring book, D’Agostino walks readers through Petit’s hard-fought return to life. . . . In the end, this is a crime story that will haunt readers, an up-close rendering of a wound to ‘an American family that is both normal and extraordinary,’ and one whose hopeful ending feels well-earned.” –Boston Globe
“[A] blessed reminder that even in the face of the most unimaginable tragedy, the human spirit rises.” –Philadelphia Daily News
“Provides vivid insight into a crime victim's psyche.” –Connecticut Law Tribune
“True crime and human perseverance merge in this engrossing chronicle of a small-town atrocity.” –Kirkus
“A remarkable account of hope, fellowship, and love in the face of tragedy.” –Publishers Weekly
“More than a murder story, this is the account of a man who overcame the greatest of losses through the love and support of others. D'Agostino delves deeper than the Petit family murders and the trials, revealing how Petit persisted in the greatest of devastation and tried to make a life on the other side of tragedy. Recommended for lovers of true crime and tales of human endurance.” –Library Journal
“What author D’Agostino so beautifully does in his true-crime book is to demonstrate and stress the notion that people are good. . . . readers seeking inspiration about the true goodness of others, especially in the aftermath of a horrific crime, will find it here.” –Booklist
“The Rising lingers long after you have read it. It raises fundamental issues about the human condition—our ability to move on in the face of unspeakable tragedy. Bill Petit lost his wife and two children in a crime beyond imagination. In the hands of Ryan D’Agostino what emerges is a pitch-perfect story of grace, eloquence and renewal beyond imagination.” —Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights
“The Rising is a gut punch of a book, one I'm sure I'll never forget. Ryan D'Agostino unflinchingly takes us into the intimate world of Dr. Bill Petit, and in doing so brings us face-to-face with loss, resilience, perseverance, and finally our own humanity. A book so taut and moving I read it in one breath before exhaling.” —Michael Paterniti, author of The Telling Room and Driving Mr. Albert
“One of the most heartrending and beautiful books I have ever read. The Rising is more than a story about one man’s impossible triumph; it’s a story about the power within all of us to find our ways no matter what.”—Robert Kurson, New York Times bestselling author of Shadow Drivers
“A beautifully observed exploration of the redemptive power of love, The Rising will leave you in awe of both its hero’s strength and its author’s soaring talent. Shattering and exhilarating in equal measure, this is a book that will change the way you deal with life’s inevitable hardships; you’ll tear through it in a single sitting, but marvel at its empathy and power for years to come.” —Brendan I. Koerner, author of The Skies Belong to Us
"Ryan D'Agostino's The Rising chronicles the struggle of Bill Petit to comprehend the incomprehensible: the loss of his wife and two young daughters to the perverted antics of two psychopaths who tortured, raped, and murdered them in unspeakable ways. Petit is twice heroic, for surviving the tragedy (he, too, was accosted and left for dead) and for being willing to share his experience to help others heal from their own tragedies. But the unsung hero here is D'Agostino for having the patience, the gentle persistence, and the great sensitivity to coax the story out of Petit so the rest of us can learn. Persuading victims to talk is difficult; listening to their pain is difficult; imagining their ordeal as you memorialize their story for the rest of the world is difficult; that's why few try; and even fewer succeed. But D'Agostino has. The Rising is a story of great perserverance at all levels. You will read it, you will wonder how Petit could go on living, you will count your lucky stars, and you will applaud the triumph of good over evil and the author who brought you the story." -Gary Kinder, author of Victim: The Other Side of Murder and Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea