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First edition hardcover of 58 Minutes, the book that inspired Die Hard 2: Die Harder.

58 Minutes is a 1987 thriller novel by American novelist Walter Wager. It was the basis for the film Die Hard 2.


Frank Malone is a divorced NYPD captain who is waiting at JFK international airport in New York City for his young daughter to arrive from California, as he is going to spend Christmas with her. Unfortunately, a mysterious man known only as "Number 1" calls the control tower and tells the crew of the airport that he has cut the power to the runway lights of JFK and every airport in the vicinity and has hijacked their equipment, leaving them with only 58 minutes to meet their demands until the first plane, which carries Frank's daughter, runs out of fuel and crashes. With a massive blizzard coming in, the planes have nowhere else to go. Frank must jump into action and save his daughter and the passengers of the other planes, which are all circling overhead! But can he do it in less than 58 minutes?

Differences between the book and the movie[]

  • John McClane is a seasoned, blue collar New York City Police Detective. Frank Malone is a well-connected, Harvard educated, commander of an elite New York City anti-terrorist police unit.
  • John McClane circumvents authority and "makes it up as he goes." Aside from Al Powell and the army special forces unit, all other resources are already at the airport. Frank Malone IS the authority, and is calm, collected and precise in the execution of his counter attack. He utilizes contacts in the US military, the FBI , a US Senator and even the President of the United States in the execution of his plan.
  • John McClane is awaiting the arrival of his wife, Holly Gennero McClane at Dulles International Airport in Virginia. She is on Northeast Airlines flight 140 . Frank Malone is awaiting the arrival of his daughter Kate at JFK International Airport in NYC. She is on TWA flight 22 Heavy.
  • In Die Hard 2, Colonel William Stuart is the primary antagonist and mastermind. He is an American war hero turned mercenary. He utilizes other former US military men sympathetic to his cause. In 58 Minutes, the primary antagonist is Willi Staub. He is an international terrorist, wanted in every major western country, hell bent on executing the first major terrorist attack on US soil. He utilizes other revolutionaries from across four continents.
  • In Die Hard 2, Dulles is the only airport under attack from mercenaries. In 58 Minutes, Newark, La Guardia and JFK have all had their communications crippled, though the action itself takes place almost entirely at JFK International.
  • In Die Hard 2, all communications from the control tower have been severed, prompting McClane et al to seek other means of contacting the planes overhead. They discuss getting transmitters from Radio Shack, using the new antenna array, and eventually utilize the airport's outer marker beacon. In 58 Minutes, the terrorists have ingeniously jammed all signals using both a stationary antenna system at a nearby utility station and a mobile antenna system, inside a semi-truck which is constantly in motion. Frank Malone uses a helicopter to locate both sources and take them out before the frequencies can be unjammed. Their tower communications relays are then blown up, prompting Frank to realize that Willi Staub was always planning to crash the planes.
  • In Die Hard 2, the mercenaries purposefully crash Windsor flight 114 to demonstrate their intentions and alert the press of the situation. In 58 Minutes, two flights accidentally collide and explode in mid-air, alerting the media that the flight delays were not due to the snowstorm.
  • In Die Hard 2, the planes circling overhead use the burning fuel path from the recently exploded 747, as a landing light and they communicate landing instructions to each other. In 58 Minutes, a top-secret US military plane, essentially equipped like a mobile control tower, helps all of the planes land.

58 Minutes 2014 Reprint


In 2014, Graymalkin Media issued a reprint of '58 Minutes.' This version includes an updated cover and an advertisement for the previously released 2013 reprint of 'Nothing Lasts Forever.'


58 minutes pour vivre

58 Minutes Pour Vivre

  • The title of Die Hard 2, when released in France was 58 Minutes Pour Vivre: Die Hard 2. This is translated as 58 Minutes to Live.
  • During the film, Colonel Stuart says that the plane carrying General Esperanza will be landing in 58 minutes. This is likely a reference to the novel on which the film is based.

Die Hard 2 film adaptation and differences from the novel and first film[]

58 Minutes inspired the 1990 film, Die Hard 2: Die Harder, where John McClane is waiting at Washington Dulles International Airport in Washington D.C. for his wife's plane to arrive. At this time, he gets involved with a rogue team of seasoned professional mercenaries and crazed ex-military commandos, led by the cold-hearted Colonel Stuart, who says that the plane carrying General Ramon Esperanza will be landing in 58 minutes, which is a reference to the book. The film is quite different from the novel, but it still remains with the same basic chain of events and plot. What is more different, though, is the fact that Die Hard 2 is a different tone than its predecessor. Die Hard focused on heartstopping action scenes and a feel that John could die any moment because he and the terrorists were in the same building and were bound to meet up. Although Die Hard 2 took place in one location, the airport was a rarely used setting as most of the film took place outside the airport, on the runways. Instead, Die Hard 2 focused on a 'race against the clock' type feel to the story with less action sequences, and John rarely saw the terrorists. Die Hard was more of an action driven film, whereas Die Hard 2 was more of a story-driven film.