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The Only Plane in the Sky: The Oral History of 9/11

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"Although many years have passed since 9/11, this book, told with such immediacy, brings so vividly back to mind the shock of that day, and why it continues to shape the tragic history that has followed." -Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower"The Only Plane in the Sky is a stunning and important work-chilling, heartbreaking-and I cannot stop thinking about it. To "Although many years have passed since 9/11, this book, told with such immediacy, brings so vividly back to mind the shock of that day, and why it continues to shape the tragic history that has followed." -Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower"The Only Plane in the Sky is a stunning and important work-chilling, heartbreaking-and I cannot stop thinking about it. To hear the voices of those who survived, and those who did not, it is so moving and powerful. I learned so much and am so thankful for this book." - Anderson Cooper, anchor, CNN Of all the books about 9/11 one has been missing until now - a panoramic narrative from the men and women caught up in the unprecedented human drama of that terrible day.The Only Plane in the Sky is nothing less than the first comprehensive oral history of 9/11, deftly woven and told in the voices of ordinary people grappling with extraordinary events. Drawing on never-before-published transcripts, recently declassified documents, new and archived interviews from nearly five hundred people, historian Garrett Graff skillfully tells the story of the day as it was lived. It begins in the predawn hours of airports in the Northeast, where we meet the ticket agents who unknowingly usher terrorists onto their flights. In New York, first responders confront a scene of unimaginable chaos at the Twin Towers. From a secret bunker beneath the White House, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice watch for incoming planes on radar. In the offices of the Pentagon, top officials feel the violent tremor as their headquarters come under attack.We hear the stories of the father and son working on separate floors in the North Tower; the firefighter who rushes to the scene to search for his wife; the telephone operator who keeps her promise to share a passenger's last words with his family; the chaplain who stays on the scene to perform last rites, losing his own life when the Towers collapse; the teachers evacuating terrified children from schools mere blocks from the World Trade Center; the generals at the Pentagon who break down and weep when they are barred from rushing into the burning building to try and rescue their colleagues.The Only Plane in the Sky is a unique, profound, and searing exploration of humanity on a day that changed the course of history, and all of our lives.


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"Although many years have passed since 9/11, this book, told with such immediacy, brings so vividly back to mind the shock of that day, and why it continues to shape the tragic history that has followed." -Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower"The Only Plane in the Sky is a stunning and important work-chilling, heartbreaking-and I cannot stop thinking about it. To "Although many years have passed since 9/11, this book, told with such immediacy, brings so vividly back to mind the shock of that day, and why it continues to shape the tragic history that has followed." -Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower"The Only Plane in the Sky is a stunning and important work-chilling, heartbreaking-and I cannot stop thinking about it. To hear the voices of those who survived, and those who did not, it is so moving and powerful. I learned so much and am so thankful for this book." - Anderson Cooper, anchor, CNN Of all the books about 9/11 one has been missing until now - a panoramic narrative from the men and women caught up in the unprecedented human drama of that terrible day.The Only Plane in the Sky is nothing less than the first comprehensive oral history of 9/11, deftly woven and told in the voices of ordinary people grappling with extraordinary events. Drawing on never-before-published transcripts, recently declassified documents, new and archived interviews from nearly five hundred people, historian Garrett Graff skillfully tells the story of the day as it was lived. It begins in the predawn hours of airports in the Northeast, where we meet the ticket agents who unknowingly usher terrorists onto their flights. In New York, first responders confront a scene of unimaginable chaos at the Twin Towers. From a secret bunker beneath the White House, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice watch for incoming planes on radar. In the offices of the Pentagon, top officials feel the violent tremor as their headquarters come under attack.We hear the stories of the father and son working on separate floors in the North Tower; the firefighter who rushes to the scene to search for his wife; the telephone operator who keeps her promise to share a passenger's last words with his family; the chaplain who stays on the scene to perform last rites, losing his own life when the Towers collapse; the teachers evacuating terrified children from schools mere blocks from the World Trade Center; the generals at the Pentagon who break down and weep when they are barred from rushing into the burning building to try and rescue their colleagues.The Only Plane in the Sky is a unique, profound, and searing exploration of humanity on a day that changed the course of history, and all of our lives.

30 review for The Only Plane in the Sky: The Oral History of 9/11

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ammar

    Powerful Multi perspective Shows how the events shaped the last 18 years of our lives The way we travel The way politics and war Every mans life

  2. 5 out of 5

    Traci at The Stacks

    Wow! This book is pretty incredible. The scope. The way it’s told. The first 1/3 is so captivating you can’t put it down even though it’s painful to read. This book forces the reader to deal with the minutiae of 9/11 in a way photos or video clips don’t. The scope of the book is impressive chronicling 9/11 in detail from start to finish. The one thing that I didn’t love is there’s lots of people cited so it’s hard to keep track of certain stories or events over 400+ pages.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    I can't remember another reading experience like this. Whatever your own experience of 9/11 was - and for all of us who lived through it, we remember where we were, what we were doing - Garrett takes that lived experience and makes the day come alive through the stories of hundreds of Americans, and makes you feel like your memories blend with those of the people whose stories are told on these pages. I'd read the original magazine article that formed the basis of the book, and I remember I can't remember another reading experience like this. Whatever your own experience of 9/11 was - and for all of us who lived through it, we remember where we were, what we were doing - Garrett takes that lived experience and makes the day come alive through the stories of hundreds of Americans, and makes you feel like your memories blend with those of the people whose stories are told on these pages. I'd read the original magazine article that formed the basis of the book, and I remember thinking what a revelation it was to hear from those closest to the President what that day was like from their perspective. To take that and turn it into this book - with all the nuance, drama, emotion, loss, love - is an astounding achievement. I feel lucky to have read this on 9/11, and cannot recommend it highly enough.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    September 11, 2001 - “We must not forget.” The crashes of American Airlines Flights 11 and 77 and United Airlines Flights 175 and 93. The collapses of the South and North Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. The attack and fire at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The burning hole and scattered debris in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. I like millions of others who were alive and of age will always remember September 11, 2001 in disbelief, horror, astoundment, and tears. I was September 11, 2001 - “We must not forget.” The crashes of American Airlines Flights 11 and 77 and United Airlines Flights 175 and 93. The collapses of the South and North Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. The attack and fire at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The burning hole and scattered debris in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. I like millions of others who were alive and of age will always remember September 11, 2001 in disbelief, horror, astoundment, and tears. I was listening to the car radio of a New York City resident describing outside her window the burning of the North Tower when the second tower was hit. Reading this book was an emotional roller coaster and gut wrenching. I kept on having chills, becoming tense, and was crying in anticipation and the occurrence of the unfolding events as described by the oral histories. Here are the voices of the witnesses and survivors who lived through that terrible day. There are no spoilers. You know what is going to happen. The U.S. came to a halt. Almost 3,000 people died of which nearly 400 were first responders. Powerful and poignant, here are a few of the voices: “How in a clear-and-a-million day could someone hit the World Trade Center?” “I have to get downstairs. I have to get to the lobby, and I have to get to help.” “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.” “It was an “Oh shit” mode. That’s the best way to describe it - disbelief. We’re under attack.” “I thought, So this is how it ends? Is this what life is – going to work, getting there like 7:00 in the morning, leaving at 5:00, taking an hour and a half each way to commute, and not having much of a life? Is this what it’s all about?” “While I was walking down, they were going up to their deaths. And I was walking down to live. I will never forget this.” “This was beyond anything that anybody had imagined.” “But I’ve never felt as helpless as I did on that morning.” “Every plane was considered a threat. We were asked probably 15 to 20 times, “Are you still with us?” It was total mass confusion.” “When is this going to come to an end?” “We thought we were in a war zone. We all gasped. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing.” “What we went through will haunt us until the end of our lives.” “We were the lucky of the unlucky to have those last words.” “We really thought that the end of the world was upon us.” “Maybe I am going to die. Maybe it is my time. How do I outrun this?” “I thought I had died. I lost all sense. I had no sight. I had no smell. I had no hearing. Everything was just silent.” “I never heard screaming like I did on that day. It was all men. It was unbelievable screaming” “There were times that day that it felt like an out-of-body experience. But you keep functioning, even though you don’t really believe it’s happening.” “This is an attack the likes of which we’ve never seen before.” “It was overwhelming.” “It was devastating. The day never really ended.” “It was chaos. People were running in every direction and they were crying. They were screaming.” The author wrote that this work was a result of 17 years of a collective product from thousands of people. He cried almost every day when he did the first draft. I had to take breaks reading the first part of the book, because of the heart wrenching emotions stirred. I highly recommend you read this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Johann (jobis89)

    Incredible book. Highly recommend - especially the audiobook! Full review to come.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Renee (itsbooktalk)

    This book was riveting and unforgettable! I highly recommend the audio if you're going to read it, one of the best audiobooks I've ever listened to.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Fitzgerald

    Wow...just... wow. Such a powerful book, one that is difficult to review in words. Memorable Quotes: (Pg.55)-“Peter Hanson,32, traveling with his wife, Sue Kim, 35, and their two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Christine, called his father. Christine would be the youngest victim on September 11th.” (Pg. 192)-“Frederick Terna, Holocaust survivor and Brooklyn resident: As ashes were falling, I was back in Auschwitz, with ashes coming down. In Auschwitz, I knew what the ashes were. Here, I assumed I Wow...just... wow. Such a powerful book, one that is difficult to review in words. Memorable Quotes: (Pg.55)-“Peter Hanson,32, traveling with his wife, Sue Kim, 35, and their two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Christine, called his father. Christine would be the youngest victim on September 11th.” (Pg. 192)-“Frederick Terna, Holocaust survivor and Brooklyn resident: As ashes were falling, I was back in Auschwitz, with ashes coming down. In Auschwitz, I knew what the ashes were. Here, I assumed I knew what the ashes were- it was a building and human remains.”

  8. 5 out of 5

    Onceinabluemoon

    This is the most intense audio book I have ever listened to, I found myself sobbing, weeping, heart sick countless times. I listened to it the entire day, from start to finish, while laying pavers in the garden, i would suddenly stop, shock still and begin weeping. My husband glanced at me and said what's wrong, your face is contorted, my reactions were visceral. As one of our countries greatest loss this book should touch everyone with a soul. It is riveting, you are reliving history minute by This is the most intense audio book I have ever listened to, I found myself sobbing, weeping, heart sick countless times. I listened to it the entire day, from start to finish, while laying pavers in the garden, i would suddenly stop, shock still and begin weeping. My husband glanced at me and said what's wrong, your face is contorted, my reactions were visceral. As one of our countries greatest loss this book should touch everyone with a soul. It is riveting, you are reliving history minute by minute, the pain is palpable. It's an excellent reminder of all the brave first responders that lost their lives on that tragic day, of those that rushed into harms way for others. I found it an exceptional history of that tragic day and learned so many more facts of the day besides the human tragedies. An excellent account from many perspectives.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kayla

    I received this advanced reader's copy at a conference and I knew starting it that it was going to be difficult to absorb, as everyone know's how 9/11 ended. But this book was fantastically put together. It didn't choose a political side or speak ill of any of the victims or survivors. What it is, is those stories of people who never really got heard. The stories of not only the survivors and their families, but the other pilots in the sky, the politicians, the first responders to all three I received this advanced reader's copy at a conference and I knew starting it that it was going to be difficult to absorb, as everyone know's how 9/11 ended. But this book was fantastically put together. It didn't choose a political side or speak ill of any of the victims or survivors. What it is, is those stories of people who never really got heard. The stories of not only the survivors and their families, but the other pilots in the sky, the politicians, the first responders to all three sites. The author put this together seamlessly and you can tell the amount of work that went into making each story be known as that person's personal story. That person's experience, heartbreak, fear, being shared with the world. Starting this book I knew I would be saddened by the stories I read, but also found a strength and resilience in human beings. I recommend this book for anyone who wants to know how these events could shape people in all different ways.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Laura • lauralovestoread

    "𝙷𝚎𝚢 𝙹𝚞𝚕𝚎𝚜, 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚜 𝚒𝚜 𝙱𝚛𝚒𝚊𝚗. 𝙸’𝚖 𝚘𝚗 𝚊𝚗 𝚊𝚒𝚛𝚙𝚕𝚊𝚗𝚎 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝚑𝚊𝚜 𝚋𝚎𝚎𝚗 𝚑𝚒𝚓𝚊𝚌𝚔𝚎𝚍...𝚒𝚏 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐𝚜 𝚍𝚘𝚗'𝚝 𝚐𝚘 𝚠𝚎𝚕𝚕, 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚢'𝚛𝚎 𝚗𝚘𝚝 𝚕𝚘𝚘𝚔𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚐𝚘𝚘𝚍, 𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚗𝚝 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚝𝚘 𝚔𝚗𝚘𝚠 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝙸 𝚊𝚋𝚜𝚘𝚕𝚞𝚝𝚎𝚕𝚢 𝚕𝚘𝚟𝚎 𝚢𝚘𝚞. 𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚗𝚝 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚝𝚘 𝚍𝚘 𝚐𝚘𝚘𝚍, 𝚑𝚊𝚟𝚎 𝚐𝚘𝚘𝚍 𝚝𝚒𝚖𝚎𝚜, 𝚜𝚊𝚖𝚎 𝚠𝚒𝚝𝚑 𝚖𝚢 𝚙𝚊𝚛𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚜. 𝙸'𝚕𝚕 𝚜𝚎𝚎 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚠𝚑𝚎𝚗 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚐𝚎𝚝 𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚎. 𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚗𝚝 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚝𝚘 𝚔𝚗𝚘𝚠 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝙸 𝚝𝚘𝚝𝚊𝚕𝚕𝚢 𝚕𝚘𝚟𝚎 𝚢𝚘𝚞. 𝙱𝚢𝚎, 𝚋𝚊𝚋𝚎, 𝚑𝚘𝚙𝚎 𝙸 𝚠𝚒𝚕𝚕 𝚌𝚊𝚕𝚕 𝚢𝚘𝚞." If I could give this book 1,000 stars, I would. I recommend every person to read this impactful novel. 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙊𝙣𝙡𝙮 𝙋𝙡𝙖𝙣𝙚 𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙎𝙠𝙮 is an incredible narrative "𝙷𝚎𝚢 𝙹𝚞𝚕𝚎𝚜, 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚜 𝚒𝚜 𝙱𝚛𝚒𝚊𝚗. 𝙸’𝚖 𝚘𝚗 𝚊𝚗 𝚊𝚒𝚛𝚙𝚕𝚊𝚗𝚎 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝚑𝚊𝚜 𝚋𝚎𝚎𝚗 𝚑𝚒𝚓𝚊𝚌𝚔𝚎𝚍...𝚒𝚏 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐𝚜 𝚍𝚘𝚗'𝚝 𝚐𝚘 𝚠𝚎𝚕𝚕, 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚢'𝚛𝚎 𝚗𝚘𝚝 𝚕𝚘𝚘𝚔𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚐𝚘𝚘𝚍, 𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚗𝚝 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚝𝚘 𝚔𝚗𝚘𝚠 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝙸 𝚊𝚋𝚜𝚘𝚕𝚞𝚝𝚎𝚕𝚢 𝚕𝚘𝚟𝚎 𝚢𝚘𝚞. 𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚗𝚝 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚝𝚘 𝚍𝚘 𝚐𝚘𝚘𝚍, 𝚑𝚊𝚟𝚎 𝚐𝚘𝚘𝚍 𝚝𝚒𝚖𝚎𝚜, 𝚜𝚊𝚖𝚎 𝚠𝚒𝚝𝚑 𝚖𝚢 𝚙𝚊𝚛𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚜. 𝙸'𝚕𝚕 𝚜𝚎𝚎 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚠𝚑𝚎𝚗 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚐𝚎𝚝 𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚎. 𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚗𝚝 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚝𝚘 𝚔𝚗𝚘𝚠 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝙸 𝚝𝚘𝚝𝚊𝚕𝚕𝚢 𝚕𝚘𝚟𝚎 𝚢𝚘𝚞. 𝙱𝚢𝚎, 𝚋𝚊𝚋𝚎, 𝚑𝚘𝚙𝚎 𝙸 𝚠𝚒𝚕𝚕 𝚌𝚊𝚕𝚕 𝚢𝚘𝚞." If I could give this book 1,000 stars, I would. I recommend every person to read this impactful novel. 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙊𝙣𝙡𝙮 𝙋𝙡𝙖𝙣𝙚 𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙎𝙠𝙮 is an incredible narrative and oral history of the events that took place on 9/11. Garrett M. Graff takes the past 17 years of research and archives, and uses the voices of over 400 people who experienced 9/11 to relay their stories as how they were affected by the attacks. “Here are also voices of fathers and sons trapped in different locations, fighting to reunite, The first responder who rushes to the scene to search for his wife, the FDNY chaplain who stays on the scene to to perform last rites to the dying, the generals at the Pentagon, the team of fighter pilots, the operators of in-flight telephone calls who have to relay passengers’ last words to their family members.” The fright, fear, tragedy, chaos, and hope, that changed the United States forever. With tears in my eyes, I read this book and could not put it down! I was a Freshman in college when the attacks happened, but reading this narrative was remarkable. *thank you to the publisher for the gifted copy for review. I also listened on audio while reading the physical copy and it was incredible.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Anita Pomerantz

    A brilliant oral history of 9/11 as told through the eyes of those who were directly touched by the tragic events that unfolded that day. The author did a great job of organizing the quotes so that they form a comprehensive view of that day. So moving. So important. I have a new appreciation for what people went through, and also for the bravery of the first responders. If you like non-fiction at all, this book should be on your TBR.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kaytee Cobb

    Freaking amazing. 1 million stars

  13. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne thebookblondie

    The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett M. Graff (#90 in 2019) Graff begins the narrative on the day prior to September 11th, 2001, and then continues his story into the weeks and months following the tragedy. The book is essentially a compilation of recently declassified documents, interviews, eyewitness accounts, and oral histories from many of those who were impacted by the 9/11 attacks. At times, Graff inserts his own, unbiased commentary for the purpose of reorienting the reader in different The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett M. Graff (#90 in 2019) Graff begins the narrative on the day prior to September 11th, 2001, and then continues his story into the weeks and months following the tragedy. The book is essentially a compilation of recently declassified documents, interviews, eyewitness accounts, and oral histories from many of those who were impacted by the 9/11 attacks. At times, Graff inserts his own, unbiased commentary for the purpose of reorienting the reader in different locations throughout the day. Graff's journalistic style was absolutely perfect for such sensitive subject matter as 9/11. What I loved most is that Graff not only included interviews with first responders and well-known political figures, but he sought to include the everyday civilian, the survivor, the family member waiting at home, the teacher in the school next door, and the unlikely heroes. I think that we're sometimes so clouded by our own recollections of that day that we forget that there were so many unheard perspectives. I read interviews from the ticket agents who ensured that the terrorists didn't miss their flights, from trapped survivors who were unaware what dangers the outside world held, and from the only American who wasn't on Earth that day-- Frank Culbertson, the American astronaut aboard the International Space Station. I can't even count the number of times I had to stop reading so I could dry my eyes. At one point, I was so absorbed in the storyline that I thought to myself how insignificant my own account of the day, that of a teenager, must seem in comparison to those who were in midst of it all. And just at that moment, I came across a chapter titled "The 9/11 Generation." In this chapter, Graff focused the reader's attention on students from kindergarten up through college who shared their own views from that day. I saw my own teenage fears reflected in the memories of these other kids, and I felt heard. I truly wanted to digest every word of this book, and I often found myself going back to reread parts that were especially eloquent and impactful. 5 stars, without a question.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    Harrowing, heartbreaking. This is oral history of 9/11 - one of the largest terrorist attacks on American soil told through the eyes of those who experienced it, as they experienced it that day. Unputdownable.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Marc

    This should be required reading for all Americans. The author did a masterful job of weaving the own words of people impacted on that horrific day to create a "complete" story of what happened. I remember September 11, 2001 but so much happened so quickly that most of my memories are emotional fragments. This book helped me connect my own experience with what happened to my country that day. Highly recommended.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Brandie

    If you read any nonfiction this year, it needs to be this book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Belle

    Wow! This is a comprehensive and definitive oral history of 9/11. I’m sure there are others equally as good but I’ve not read overly much about 9/11. It was my 3 year old son’s very first day going to preschool. So my memory is of dropping him off in a perfect world and picking him up 2 hours later to a completely changed and chaotic world. He is 21 now. I am going to save this book for him - for when he’s truly ready - to understand how differently he was raised from that day forward and how Wow! This is a comprehensive and definitive oral history of 9/11. I’m sure there are others equally as good but I’ve not read overly much about 9/11. It was my 3 year old son’s very first day going to preschool. So my memory is of dropping him off in a perfect world and picking him up 2 hours later to a completely changed and chaotic world. He is 21 now. I am going to save this book for him - for when he’s truly ready - to understand how differently he was raised from that day forward and how his definition of freedom is so different than mine.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chris Steeden

    This is actually the first book on 9/11 I have read and it is very powerful. It really does bring home to you the tragedy of that day as we read interviews from real survivors / family members of those that died / emergency responders that were there either at the World Trade Center, Pentagon or the Shanksville site in Pennsylvania. They say that you can remember exactly where you were when you heard about 9/11 even though I was over in London, UK. I was actually working for an American company This is actually the first book on 9/11 I have read and it is very powerful. It really does bring home to you the tragedy of that day as we read interviews from real survivors / family members of those that died / emergency responders that were there either at the World Trade Center, Pentagon or the Shanksville site in Pennsylvania. They say that you can remember exactly where you were when you heard about 9/11 even though I was over in London, UK. I was actually working for an American company who are based in Boston and a lady from IT walked past my office, stuck her head in, and told me the news. Planes hitting the World Trade Center in New York? What? I did visit the site five years later. It was very emotional. The set-up of the book is to go through the day from getting up to go to work right to the end. Some of the stuff is hard to read especially hearing how people had to avoid jumpers or building materials. Not everyone did. My word. Horrific. The author does say that it took a long time to piece the jigsaw of interviews into place so you go through the day. This is not surprising at all but the concept works so well. Interspersed with this you also follow the President’s movements and you can actually feel the unease and them not knowing what the hell is going on. This is uncharted territory. Is the US under attack from another country? If so, by whom and why? The other part for me that I was not aware of was how the survivors were actually taken away from the island on boats thus becoming the largest maritime evacuation since the Second World War. Then there is the anguish of not knowing if loved ones have survived or died. The mis-information that flies around. All-in-all a very moving book. He does not go into the politics, religion or why the terrorists did it. They did it and this is what happened from the people that were there or indirectly involved.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mallory (onmalsshelf) Bartel

    In simple terms: this book was like a bulldozer of emotions. It gutted me. It made me cry. It should be required reading in high school. If you’re going to read this, have a box of tissues ready. Garrett Graff was able to hundreds of testimonies for this amazing tribute and his incredible work deserves to be noticed. He truly let the survivors, their families, and political staff speak for themselves and share their stories of what happened September 11,2001 and the days, months, and years In simple terms: this book was like a bulldozer of emotions. It gutted me. It made me cry. It should be required reading in high school. If you’re going to read this, have a box of tissues ready. Garrett Graff was able to hundreds of testimonies for this amazing tribute and his incredible work deserves to be noticed. He truly let the survivors, their families, and political staff speak for themselves and share their stories of what happened September 11,2001 and the days, months, and years following. Particular parts that made me cry: The Author’s Note, the first section, “Aboard the International Space Station”, the section “The 9/11 Generation”, and within the epilogue when “the firefighters of Ladder 6 served as pallbearers at the funeral of Josephine Harris, who had died at 69, nearly 10 years after all of them had been trapped together in Stairwell B.” Who needs to read this? Everyone. I truly believe this book needs to become required reading for high school seniors. We’ve now come to the poking in time when high school seniors were not alive at the time of 9/11 and this is such an amazing compilation of everything that happened that day. I remember where I was that day. I was 5 years old and in kindergarten. Back then it was still half day. I don’t remember how I got home that day, but I do remember her watching the news all day long. It’s one of the first memories I have of my 23 years. Thank you Morgan at Avid Reader Press for this copy. I truly enjoyed this emotional roller coaster.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    Whew. I feel like I have been pushed underwater and held down, struggling to get back up into the air. The experience of reading this book, reading page after page after page of stories and perceptions and thoughts about 9/11, was devastating, troubling, horrifying, all-encompassing, with occasional moments of great beauty and transcendence. I don't think I have ever read a book that has been such a deeply emotional experience. I feel like I have been immersed in the day, as if I have somehow Whew. I feel like I have been pushed underwater and held down, struggling to get back up into the air. The experience of reading this book, reading page after page after page of stories and perceptions and thoughts about 9/11, was devastating, troubling, horrifying, all-encompassing, with occasional moments of great beauty and transcendence. I don't think I have ever read a book that has been such a deeply emotional experience. I feel like I have been immersed in the day, as if I have somehow been able to be on each plane, inside each building, with the president and the military, and watching with the people on the street.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tommi Clark

    I too remember what I thought, how I felt, and what I was doing on that September Tuesday. That, however, did not prepare me to hear what others thought and did, in their own words.(I listened to the audio version). There is so much rawness and pain as you can tell each commenter relived that day, as if it just happened. But there is also gratefulness and pride in what many experienced. This audio is so profound, there were moments I replayed over and over, as I just could not believe what these I too remember what I thought, how I felt, and what I was doing on that September Tuesday. That, however, did not prepare me to hear what others thought and did, in their own words.(I listened to the audio version). There is so much rawness and pain as you can tell each commenter relived that day, as if it just happened. But there is also gratefulness and pride in what many experienced. This audio is so profound, there were moments I replayed over and over, as I just could not believe what these people were living. This will stick with me forever, and although I knew the big picture events, to hear the minute details of the day gives me a frightening idea of what they experienced. To hear the firefighters, police officers, political leaders, and especially the pilots who went up to intercept flight 93, will haunt you. You will also hear conversations between people on flights and their loved ones and flight attendants and authorities, these being some of the most gut wrenching parts of the entire oral history. Their bravery and fear are obviously palpable and devastating. Download the audio version...you will not be sorry.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kari Ann Sweeney

    “That passage of time makes remembering 9/11 all the more important. Indeed, to understand all that came after, we must first understand what it was like to live through the drama and tragedy that began under the crisp, clear blue skies of Tuesday, September 11.” I thought I knew the story of 9/11. This masterful book unveiled that historic day through hundreds of compiled stories. Stories of gut wrenching loss and glimmers of hope. Stories I had never heard, but for which I am better after “That passage of time makes remembering 9/11 all the more important. Indeed, to understand all that came after, we must first understand what it was like to live through the drama and tragedy that began under the crisp, clear blue skies of Tuesday, September 11.” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I thought I knew the story of 9/11. This masterful book unveiled that historic day through hundreds of compiled stories. Stories of gut wrenching loss and glimmers of hope. Stories I had never heard, but for which I am better after hearing. Stories of split second decisions and second chances. Stories that reopened my personal 9/11 experience. I came to fully understand the impact it had on my life. My life today was directly influenced by my 9/11 experience. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Since this is the oral history of 9/11 I decided to read it on audio. I knew it would be powerful. I knew it would be a tough listen. But I was wholly unprepared for the physical, visceral reaction I had. At one point my heart raced and my stomach dropped and I needed to pull my car over and take a moment. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The audiobook was expertly narrated by a cast of nearly 45 voices. I highly recommend that format- if you’re up for it. If not- please consider the print version. It is worth your time.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Angela Smith

    It is hard to put down in words how this book was because of the subject matter, except to say it was one of the most harrowing and inspiring at the same time. I think everyone who was alive and old enough at the time of 9/11 remembers where they were or what they were doing on that day. (I know I do) I can't imagine the amount of research that was put into the book to bring all these accounts together. The book covers oral accounts of those at ground zero or nearby, of families, friends, work It is hard to put down in words how this book was because of the subject matter, except to say it was one of the most harrowing and inspiring at the same time. I think everyone who was alive and old enough at the time of 9/11 remembers where they were or what they were doing on that day. (I know I do) I can't imagine the amount of research that was put into the book to bring all these accounts together. The book covers oral accounts of those at ground zero or nearby, of families, friends, work colleagues. It doesn't just focus on what happened in New York either, it gives accounts of the attack on the Pentagon as well as the site of the crashed Flight 93. Reading of people's sacrifice, near escapes and resilience was truly moving. If you have to have one history book cataloging what occurred on 9/11 this book is it. Towards the end of the book it has accounts from people months after the attack and then years after the attack. There are colour photos spread in two sections in the volume as well. This is my book of 2019.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte (charandbooks)

    This book is an assembly of hundreds of oral histories pieced together with some editorial comment and photographs to portray how the United States has experienced 9/11. This book is not so much about why these attacks happened, who ordered them or what the military retaliation would be but rather about how various individuals experienced the day. We hear from people working and trying to escape both the South and North Tower, we hear from first responders and how they gave their everything to This book is an assembly of hundreds of oral histories pieced together with some editorial comment and photographs to portray how the United States has experienced 9/11. This book is not so much about why these attacks happened, who ordered them or what the military retaliation would be but rather about how various individuals experienced the day. We hear from people working and trying to escape both the South and North Tower, we hear from first responders and how they gave their everything to help people, we overhear phone calls and and air traffic transmissions that speak of the impending doom, we get a glimpse into Air Force one and how the president and government officials learned about what happened, and so much more. This book must’ve taken a tremendous amount of work to research and compared to other books the author does not so much speak trough his prose but rather who he gives a voice and when throughout the book. The recollections of people vary from a sentence to a full paragraph and this conveys a sense of urgency and fragmented information that fits with what happened that day. The many characters (some speaking for themselves and others spoken of) make it clear how wide-spread the effects of that day were and for some still are; something I think I couldn’t fully grasp back then as a teenager. Naming each and every one of them also makes it much more personal and thus emotional (I got teary-eyed multiple times). This book put a well-known tragedy into perspective for me and appeals to the reader’s empathy instead of focusing on statistics, theories, and speculations. I keep thinking that if we had such accounts of other events they would not be as easy to forgot or even ignored. Highly recommend this powerful book!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    The most difficult book I have ever read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    This is a masterpiece. The way its told, its depth... this made me cry about a hundred times, but I'd recommend it to everyone I know. Really great on audio.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    [The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral history of 9/11] by [[Garrett M. Graff]] If you only read one book about 9/11 in your lifetime, this should be the one. Working with oral historians, Graff has cobbled together a remarkable narrative of the events of the day and the day after, as well as an epilogue that follows up on the US response and the lives of some of the speakers. Hundreds of people's stories are included, from the obvious (the president, Veep, Secretary of Defense, and Mayor Giuliani [The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral history of 9/11] by [[Garrett M. Graff]] If you only read one book about 9/11 in your lifetime, this should be the one. Working with oral historians, Graff has cobbled together a remarkable narrative of the events of the day and the day after, as well as an epilogue that follows up on the US response and the lives of some of the speakers. Hundreds of people's stories are included, from the obvious (the president, Veep, Secretary of Defense, and Mayor Giuliani and, of course, first responders and survivors) to the unexpected. There's the airport worker who checked in Mohammed Atta and encouraged him to hurry so as not to miss his flight; students in a nearby school; reporters who were travelling on Air Force One; the victim's family members, including a woman who gave birth during the tragedy; taped calls from personnel on the doomed planes; and many, many more. It's a sad, horrifying, but riveting narrative of the greatest attack ever on American soil. Particularly moving are the stories of people helping strangers and looking for friends, coworkers, and family. Some of these stories are told in short pieces as the day progresses. Particularly moving is that of a married couple--he a fireman, she a police officer; this one has a happy ending amidst all the stories of loss. The narrative moves from Manhattan to the Pentagon to the site of the Flight 93 crash in Pennsylvania, traces the president's convoluted journey from Florida back to Washington, and details fears of additional attacks that cleared the skies and sent bombers up with orders to take down suspicious commercial airplanes. Graff has taken on a monumental task here, but he has achieved his goal. I know that I relived the day--where I was, what I was doing, how I felt--as I listened to the narrative, and I feel that every reader or listener will have the same experience. As a side note: I haven't been listening to many audiobooks lately, but this one worked extremely well. It has a cast of over 40 actors, and their heartfelt performances made it easier to follow the various persons' stories. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to lock that day in memory, and for anyone too young to have a memory of the most ominous day in our history.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kirsta

    Read this. And then go hug a fireman. I had heard stories of where my parents and grandparents were when JFK was killed. When Princess Diana died, I thought, this is my JFK moment and I remember everything about that night. Little did I know that in a few short years, I would have a series of days forever etched in my memory; a story I would share countless times after waiting for someone to finish their story so I could have another opportunity to process what I experienced. We don’t talk Read this. And then go hug a fireman. I had heard stories of where my parents and grandparents were when JFK was killed. When Princess Diana died, I thought, this is my JFK moment and I remember everything about that night. Little did I know that in a few short years, I would have a series of days forever etched in my memory; a story I would share countless times after waiting for someone to finish their story so I could have another opportunity to process what I experienced. We don’t talk about September 11 without talking about where we were, who we were with, what we saw, what we heard. We form a collective American story about what that was. To hear such a story, in such a chronological way, from the people who were there, was so impactful. I’ve watched all of the documentaries, I’ve been to the memorial and the museum, and I learned from these stories. I cried, sobbed really, reading Bush and Obama’s addresses to the nation. I was transported to those feelings again, and time has not changed them. In the hardback copy, I would caution sensitive people to skip the top of page 234. This is in the chapter Escaping The Pentagon and it’s the experience of Dennis Smith, maintenance inspector, Pentagon Building Managers Office, as a part of his rescue efforts. It takes a lot to rattle me and I had clear visions of what he saw and it kept me awake. It starts with him talking about self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).

  29. 5 out of 5

    Crystal Zavala

    The audio of this book is fantastic! I will be re-listening to this every year for 9/11. The way all of the interviews are broken down into chronological order and pieced together is amazing. I can't imagine how much time it took to compile and organize all of these interviews. I was definitely one of those people glued to the TV on 9/11/01. This book was great to fill in some of the blanks, especially in regards to the planes that crashed at the Pentagon and Shanksville, PA.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Donna Backshall

    Ugh, Overdrive says I'm #28 on 8 copies, and estimates another 7 weeks before I can get my hands on this. I might need to buy it. With a 4.85 rating here on Goodreads, I suspect it might be my favorite book of 2019. The saddest too, but overall it will probably top my list.

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