The Only Plane in the Sky
An Oral History of September 11, 2001
Narrated by A Full 45-Person Cast / 15 hours 54 minutes
“This is a book you really need to hear instead of read. I was an adult with 2 children on 9/11 and I learned so much listening to this. This is more than just people recounting what happened to them on that dark day, it is a reenactment from key people told in chronological order. You get the where and learn exactly what they experienced. There is a full cast of people retelling their stories and their observations. It was heartbreaking but also eye-opening. Although I lived through this, I gained a better understanding of those affected by the events first hand. The people that were right there tell you their view and how the responded. Listening to this I was riveted. The scope of 9/11 is bigger than just one person, or a few people. It encompasses every American. This book does a fantastic job of putting you right there.”Karen, That Book Store
2020 AUDIOBOOK OF THE YEAR AUDIE AWARD WINNER!
2020 MULTI-VOICED PERFORMANCE AUDIE AWARD WINNER!
Audio bonus! The audio edition includes an exclusive interview with Garrett Graff and Holter Graham as well as archival audio from United States Presidential addresses, In-Flight Communications, and Air Traffic Control.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
“Visceral...I repeatedly cried…This book captures the emotions and unspooling horror of the day.” —NPR
The first comprehensive oral history of September 11, 2001—a panoramic narrative woven from the voices of Americans on the front lines of an unprecedented national trauma.
Over the past eighteen years, monumental literature has been published about 9/11, from Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower, which traced the rise of al-Qaeda, to The 9/11 Commission Report, the government’s definitive factual retrospective of the attacks. But one perspective has been missing up to this point—a 360-degree account of the day told through the voices of the people who experienced it.
Now, in The Only Plane in the Sky, award-winning journalist and bestselling historian Garrett Graff tells the story of the day as it was lived—in the words of those who lived it. Drawing on never-before-published transcripts, recently declassified documents, original interviews, and oral histories from nearly five hundred government officials, first responders, witnesses, survivors, friends, and family members, Graff paints the most vivid and human portrait of the September 11 attacks yet.
Beginning in the predawn hours of airports in the Northeast, we meet the ticket agents who unknowingly usher terrorists onto their flights, and the flight attendants inside the hijacked planes. In New York City, first responders confront a scene of unimaginable horror at the Twin Towers. From a secret bunker underneath the White House, officials watch for incoming planes on radar. Aboard the small number of unarmed fighter jets in the air, pilots make a pact to fly into a hijacked airliner if necessary to bring it down. In the skies above Pennsylvania, civilians aboard United Flight 93 make the ultimate sacrifice in their place. Then, as the day moves forward and flights are grounded nationwide, Air Force One circles the country alone, its passengers isolated and afraid.
More than simply a collection of eyewitness testimonies, The Only Plane in the Sky is the historic narrative of how ordinary people grappled with extraordinary events in real time: the father and son working in the North Tower, caught on different ends of the impact zone; the firefighter searching for his wife who works at the World Trade Center; the operator of in-flight telephone calls who promises to share a passenger’s last words with his family; the beloved FDNY chaplain who bravely performs last rites for the dying, losing his own life when the Towers collapse; and the generals at the Pentagon who break down and weep when they are barred from rushing into the burning building to try to rescue their colleagues.
At once a powerful tribute to the courage of everyday Americans and an essential addition to the literature of 9/11, The Only Plane in the Sky weaves together the unforgettable personal experiences of the men and women who found themselves caught at the center of an unprecedented human drama. The result 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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