The Only Plane in the Sky Summary and Reviews

The Only Plane in the Sky

An Oral History of 9/11

by Garrett M. Graff

The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett M. Graff X
The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett M. Graff
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Book Summary

The award-winning journalist and author of Raven Rock shares the first comprehensive oral history of September 11, 2001 - a panoramic narrative woven from hundreds of interviews with government officials, first responders, survivors, friends, and family members.

Over the last eighteen years, much has been written and said about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the profound impact they had on America and the world. But those names, stories, and memories have never before been collected in one place to tell the full, 360-degree story of what happened that day, and in the days after.

In The Only Plane in the Sky, award-winning journalist and author Garrett Graff draws on never-before-published transcripts, recently declassified documents, and original interviews and stories from nearly five hundred government officials, first responders, witnesses, survivors, friends, and family members to paint the most comprehensive, minute-by-minute account of the September 11 attacks yet, all told in the words of those who experienced that dramatic and tragic day. From the firefighters who streamed into the smoke-filled stairwells of the Twin Towers to the fighter pilots scrambled from air bases across the Northeast with orders to shoot down any hijacked commercial aircraft; from the teachers who held their fear at bay while evacuating terrified children from schools mere blocks from the World Trade Center to the stricken family members trapped helplessly on the ground, hearing their loved ones' final words from aboard a hijacked plane or within a burning building, Graff weaves together the unforgettable testimonies 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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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Most affecting of all, of course, are the accounts of those who survived, the responders who struggled to help (and who lost so many of their colleagues), and the families who learned a loved one would never be coming home...Readers who emerge dry-eyed from the text should check their pulses: Something is wrong with their hearts." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"The bewilderment, fear, and courage exhibited on that day are palpable in these recollections. This vivid, moving work is painful to read but honors both those who died and those who survived that awful day." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"This is history at its most immediate and moving. In The Only Plane in the Sky, Garrett Graff has crafted an enduring portrait of a deadly and consequential day, a day that has shaped all other subsequent days in America for nearly two decades. A marvelous and memorable book." - Jon Meacham, author of The Soul of America

"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

"Garrett Graff has deftly used oral history to take us into the one of the most horrific and consequential moments in American history, in a book that will be particularly important for those readers too young to remember September 11, 2001." - Michael Beschloss, author of Presidents of War

"9/11 is one of the hinge events of American history and Garrett Graff adds considerably to our knowledge of the horrors and the heroism that characterized that terrible day. The Only Plane in the Sky is a deeply researched and authoritative account." - Peter Bergen, author of Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden, from 9/11 to Abbottabad

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Reader Reviews

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Victoria

A must read book for all.
A masterpiece of the oral history form. I try not to use hyperbole but I don’t think that statement is. Of course, it’s as heart-rending as you might expect. This narrative style gives a visceral “you are there” feeling more than anything I’ve read about 9/11 (I also rated Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11 a 5 star read earlier this year, but this book really exceeds that). So many parts just took me immediately back to that morning, sitting with my co-workers on the other side of NY State, stunned, scared and heartbroken in front of the TV. The author did a great job only inserting his own narration in very small amounts at the start of sections, letting the participants tell their story of the day. I consider this a must read book.

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Author Information

Garrett M. Graff

Garrett M. Graff, a magazine journalist and historian, has spent more than a dozen years covering politics, technology, and national security. He's written for publications from Wired to the New York Times, and served as the editor of two of Washington's most prestigious magazines, Washingtonian and POLITICO Magazine. His books include Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government's Secret Plan to Save Itself—While the Rest of Us Die, The Threat Matrix: The FBI War in the Age of Global Terror and The First Campaign: Globalization, the Web, and the Race for the White House.

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