The Rising

Murder, Heartbreak, and the Power of Human Resilience in an American Town

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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.

From the Hardcover edition.


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

From the Hardcover edition.