Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Woman Who Wasn't There: The True Story of an Incredible Deception” as Want to Read:
The Woman Who Wasn't There: The True Story of an Incredible Deception
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Woman Who Wasn't There: The True Story of an Incredible Deception

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,910 Ratings  ·  399 Reviews
The Woman Who Wasn’t There is a riveting real-life mystery, a probe into the inner depths of humanity. This is a page-turner for every American” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis).

Tania Head’s astonishing account of her experience on September 11, 2001, was a tale of loss and recovery, of courage and sorrow, of horror and inspiration. It transformed her into one of the great vi
Paperback, 295 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Touchstone (first published May 23rd 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Woman Who Wasn't There, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Woman Who Wasn't There

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
This short book which can be read in one or two sittings, though the story it describes is anything but short: the astounding story of Tania Head, the woman who on 9/11/2001 was at the 78th floor of World Trade Center 2 (The South Tower) when United Airlines 175 hit that floor, making her one of the very few who survived the direct impact. Badly burned on her arm, she managed to escape ftom the tower, crawling through rubble, witnessing the horror first hand. Her fiance, Dave, didn't make it: he ...more
Anita Dalton
This book was sort of entertaining but at the end of it all, the authors knew nothing about Tania Head other than that she decided to play a 9/11 victim and tell all kinds of unlikely lies. These lies brought her to the forefront of the 9/11 survivor movement and made her a star of sorts.

The book explains what she did and how a handful of people became her pets as she scammed and lied, but at no point does this book ever explain Tania Head. We ended up knowing remarkably little about her real l
Jul 09, 2012 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Carol by: BookPage
Shelves: non-fiction
This is one of those OMG books. All I can say is it's a good thing that I knew the outcome going in.

I'm giving this 4 stars but this is not a story that warrants "like" I'm not going to say anything more but would love to read or discuss this book with a group. This would allow an exploration of the psychological make-up of the people whose stories are told.

One thing I really liked about this book was how the authors laid out the story. They could have chosen to do it in a far different way. I
Claire Cameron
Interesting account of the story, but it stopped short of delving deeper into the psychology of lies. This was not the intention of the authors to do so, rather it is what I would have been interested in. It is certainly a page turner. I read it in one sitting.
May 08, 2012 Mjdrean rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was about to give this book 3 stars until I realized it wasn't the writing I didn't like--- it was the woman in the book. The writing is worth 4 stars. The woman needs, needs? Needs everything, a spanking, a psychiatrist, a man, a year in jail, an intervention, a reality check. She doesn't need gall. There were so many victims from 9/11 and now she's left those victims victimized all over again. Conning runs in her family evidently, her father and brother spent time in a Spanish prison for fra ...more
Maureen Timerman
Apr 16, 2012 Maureen Timerman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
What a compelling heart-wrenching story. You feel the pain that Tania Head experienced. Her world fell apart on the morning of September 11, 2001, she almost lost her own life, and she did loose her beloved Dave, her husband/fiance. She recounts her horrific tale many times in this book, how could you survive all that she has lost?
You hear about the angel in the stair-well, with the red-bandana that helps save her life. She in turn helps fill in a void in his parents life, and brings them some f
May 28, 2012 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a somewhat difficult book for me to read since I had worked in the World Trade Center and know people who died that day. I was not there on September 11th, but I counseled people who were - and largely because of my work with survivors, I was interested in this story.

I found it to be much better than the documentary. This book is riveting, and - though it covers a span of several years and contains a lot of details - it's a pretty fast read. There is no answer to the question of why Tan
May 18, 2013 Donna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating story, and in the hands of better writers it could have been a great book. Instead, it's a lumbering linear narrative which gets more tedious the longer it goes on. We know going into the book that Head was a fraud, but there's no insight into WHY Head needed to insert herself into the 9/11 tragedy, nor any investigation into the life she was actually leading while she hoodwinked everyone. If she wasn't working for Merrill Lynch as claimed, just what was she doing? Did she ...more
Apr 06, 2012 Patty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed that most of the book details her lies, delusions, manipulations and fabrications, and only one chapter tells you the truth about the woman. I wanted to understand better who she is, and why she did it, as well as how she could get away with it for so long. It needed an extra chapter at the end to explain that.
Sep 30, 2014 Tami rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unbelievable!! Incredible! What the??!!?? I couldn't put this book down.

Not knowing the background or having heard anything about the story, I was taken in and couldn't believe the ending, even knowing the title of the book!! The authors tell this tale so clearly.

It's the story of a woman, Tania Head, who claimed to be in the towers on 9/11, her harrowing rescue and will to survive, the loss of her husband in the other tower and her struggle to live afterwards. She builds a foundation for Surviv
Apr 22, 2012 Jae rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I found this to be a very bizarre book. Not bad, but not at all what I was expecting given the title and the promotion around it. What I expected was a story, from the journalists' point of view from beginning to end, about the unmasking of a faker who for years had pretended to be a 9/11 survivor: a depiction of exactly what they did to uncover her deceptions, descriptions by her one-time friends how it felt to be betrayed by her, philosophical discussion about whether she was a typical "con ma ...more
Mar 30, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, dtb
Two years after the attacks of 9/11, a survivor named Tania Head started posting to survivor's forums online. She was one of only 19 people who had been above the point of impact in the South Tower of the World Trade Center and survived. Her remarkable story of escape -- her arm nearly torn off, her assistant decapitated, the fireman who led her to safety as the tower collapsed, her days of unconsciousness in a New York City burn unit -- was made all the more heartrending by the fact that her hu ...more
Alex Johnson
Wow, I literally devoured this book in an afternoon. An amazing true story about Tania Head, a woman who said she was on the 78th floor sky lobby in the South Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11 when it was struck literally head on by one of the hijacked planes. While she manages to extraordinarily survive, her fiance dies in the North tower. The book weaves her story from the genesis of her writings on online support groups for the forgotten victims of 9/11, the survivors. As Tania makes am ...more
May 14, 2012 Sera rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sera by: Book Page Magazine
Shelves: non-fiction, library
Interesting story about a woman who successfully faked being a survivor of 9/11 for 5 years. Excellent depiction about the rise of the survivor movement generally after the tragedy had occurred, and I found the story of "the woman" to be quite fascinating, because I couldn't believe that she was able to perpetrate the hoax for so long.

My only criticism of the book is that we didn't get to know "why" she did it. Was it a result of self-narcissm? Well, sure, but I was really hoping that there wou
Wow, this was one roller coaster of a read and compelling narrative nonfiction! My first thought when I finished this fascinating story was "give this woman an academy award!" as she was very convincing as someone who had undergone a horrendous experience, and how she kept it up for over five years is pretty amazing.

The lack of one star is because I was disappointed that there wasn't more about who Tania really is or exactly what she was doing on September 11, 2001 (this was the compelling part
Dana ****Reads Alot****
Wow!! It is the only word I can come up with right now. I saw a documentary on this awhile ago and I saw there was a book and I really wanted to read it to get into Tania Head's mind to understand why she did what she did. She had a very good upbringing living a lavish lifestyle but sadly she was tormented by others in school about her weight so she had a very big imagination that she escaped to. Still no excuse for her awful behavior of her treatment of her friends in this book. She was vindict ...more
Apr 12, 2012 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
I was awake until the wee hours reading the disturbing account of a woman who deceived Giuliani, Pataki and countless others about her experience as a World Trade Center 9/11 survivor. What makes the account so intriguing for me is the fact that she worked tirelessly as well as effectively on behalf of her 9/11 survivors' group.

This scheming individual made certain her story far outstripped other survivors' accounts in its scope and magnitude. Others who were genuinely suffering from their exper
Two years after the terrible events of 9/11, Tania Head joined the together with other survivors to create the World Trade Center Survivors Network. Her story was exceptionally compelling--not only had she lost her husband in the North Tower that terrible day, but she herself barely survived as the second plane crashed into the South Tower where Tania and her co-workers were trying to evacuate from the 78th floor sky lobby. Burned, her arm almost torn off, Tania managed to survive and became the ...more
Aug 29, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy reading a good book of fiction, but I find myself most interested ini real-life stories which you can almost not believe are true. I found myself somewhat mesmerized by this true-life tale of deceit which in the end leaves so many unanswered questions--not the least of which is why??? We are left perplexed as none of the traditional motivations hold the answer. Part of the intrigue of this story is the constant push and pull of Tania's willingness to share her story and then shriveling b ...more
Jul 06, 2014 P rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We all know there are bad people in this world. Some of the worst are those who exploit others' tragedies and/or take advantage of those who are most vulnerable. "Tania" Head tops this list for sure. This well written account tells an unbelievable story of deception, selfishness and arrogance. Disturbing and hard to put down.
Lauren Milligan
May 18, 2012 Lauren Milligan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Tania Head is a deplorable, shocking and fascinating person. In addition to her story, I was also drawn in to the community of survivors that developed after 9/11, and how they organized themselves for the memorial and recognition that they truly deserve. The events that unfold in this book are outrageous, angering and heartbreaking, but there is also a thread of uplifting hope woven throughout. Will Tania ever be held accountable for her actions? I doubt it, and it probably w ...more
Karen & Gerard
The Woman Who Wasn't There--The True Story of an Incredible Deception by Robin Gaby Fisher and Angelo J. Guglielmo, Jr. tells the story of a woman who lost her husband on 9/11. He was in one tower, she the other. She was able to help people out of harms way and befriended them. She joined and then took charge of the survivors Network, giving of her time and money and was always there for her fellow survivors. She was admired and gave back to New York by doing many acts of kindness. Then ending o ...more
May 30, 2012 René rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very weird, sad, and enraging story. I never heard about this woman before spotting this book in the new books section at the library and flipping through it. Yet right off the bat you can smell something rotten in her story. This is an easy and engaging read. I appreciated that the authors devoted some time to the feelings and perspectives of the other 9/11 survivors who got conned by this woman. Their stories, even offered as side stories in this book, gave me more insight into the devastati ...more
Jamison Doran
Wow. I'm not sure what else to say about the disgusting display of deception illustrated in this book by "Tania" Head.

I finished the book in less than a day, and to say it was a quick read would be an understatement.

While I certainly enjoyed the book, I wish more time had been given to the unraveling of "Tania's" story. I also took issue with displaying "Tania" has a sympathetic figure. She isn't and she doesn't deserve our sympathy for her lies and deceit. She should seek mental help, as I hate
John Marr
Sep 15, 2013 John Marr rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
My by chance 9/11 observance volume looked promising: a high profile, highly vocal "9/11 Survivor" (gag!) is unmasked as a fraud. It's a great story and the writing is good, but apparently no one involved with this project realizes that the most intersting part of this story is the woman who committed the fraud! Instead, the 90%+ of the book is about Tania Head's fake survival story and very real rise to the top of the survivor movement, with only a few pages tacked on at the end about the real ...more
[Non-fiction] The subtitle reads: 'The True Story of an Incredible Deception'. When I picked up this book, I was under the impression that this woman suffered such traumatic stress from having gone through (survived) September 11, that she blanked out, and on account of mental and emotional self-preservation, could not even remember being there.

Just a few chapters in, there are details of her being helped by a young man with a red bandana, after the plane hit the south tower, in which she was i
Since the story is pretty much on the cover of the book and was in the media a few years back, it's not a spoiler to say that this is about the woman who pretended to be a 9/11 survivor.

I read this after seeing the documentary of the same name on Netflix--sometimes I have no idea why Netflix recommends stuff, but I tend to go with it. The only reason I read the book was to see how much deeper into the story it went. The answer? Not much. The story itself is a gut punch even if you know the basi
Apr 20, 2012 Naomi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, wow, wow...just when you thought some people couldn't figure out new ways to be skeezy, a book comes out proving me wrong. Once I was finally able to sit down and start reading it, I couldn't put it down. I wanted to make sure that I read this as a companion to the Investigative Discovery show that is being reaired Saturday morning because I was sure that the book would give insight that the special wouldn't have and I am sure that I am right because this went deeper into actions of Tania H ...more
Jan 06, 2015 Shannon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

Where to begin? I have so many mixed feelings about this book. The majority of the writing in the book was written well, but other parts, not so much. The book started off great; it started with extremely vivid details that would make you feel like you were there. I don't usually read a book in about three days, but I flew through it because the writing started off so well. The majority of the book was written in third person, all knowing narration. It started with and mainly
I kept telling myself that Tania Head is crazy as I read this book. She has to be a sociopath of some kind. Or she has some type of personality disorder. Whatever the case may be, the public will never know, as Tania Head plays the victim always.

Tania became known in the aftermath of 9/11 as the uber-suvivor. Her story touched so many people. Her resilience was unbelievable. And all of it is fabricated. We never really get to why she did what she did, but the story is compelling. I couldn't qui
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
52 weeks, 52 books: Week 2016.11: The Woman Who Wasn't There 1 22 Mar 11, 2016 06:58AM  
Fancy a great rea...: Discussion 3 13 Apr 25, 2013 01:31AM  
  • Bella
  • Lip Service (Butterfield Institute)
  • A Rip in Heaven
  • Murder in the Adirondacks: An American Tragedy Revisited
  • Debunking 9/11 Myths
  • Finding Chandra: A True Washington Murder Mystery
  • The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden
  • Winged Obsession: The Pursuit of the World's Most Notorious Butterfly Smuggler
  • The Real Elizabeth: An Intimate Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II
  • Think No Evil: Inside the Story of the Amish Schoolhouse Shooting...and Beyond
  • Keeper: One House, Three Generations, and a Journey into Alzheimer's
  • Where Hope Begins: One Family's Journey Out of Tragedy-And the Reporter Who Helped Them Make It
  • I Kill Me: Tales of A Jilted Hypochondriac
  • A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown
  • Sidonia's Thread: The Secrets of a Mother and Daughter Sewing a New Life in America
  • The Shooting Salvationist: J. Frank Norris and the Murder Trial that Captivated America
  • The Bundy Murders: A Comprehensive History
  • My Stolen Son: The Nick Markowitz Story
Robin Gaby Fisher is a news feature writer for The Star-Ledger in Newark, New Jersey's largest daily newspaper. She specializes in telling stories about regular people living through extraordinary circumstances. She has twice been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, in 2001 and 2005. She has been the recipient of the National Headliner Award and the Nieman Foundation at Harvard' ...more
More about Robin Gaby Fisher...

Share This Book