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The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland
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The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  29,810 ratings  ·  4,661 reviews
Perfect for fans of the hit Broadway musical Come from Away.
When 38 jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land at Gander International Airport in Canada by the closing of U.S. airspace on September 11, the population of this small town on Newfoundland Island swelled from 10,300 to nearly 17,000. The citizens of Gander met the stranded passengers with an over
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 14th 2003 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 2002)
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Joan Cavin Yes, it is a fabulous book for book club. My book club selected it last May and I will be leading the review of it at our March get together.
Kristine Jones Yep! On the plus side, there will be tears of joy when you read about the beautiful side of humanity In the telling of this story. It won’t just be sa…moreYep! On the plus side, there will be tears of joy when you read about the beautiful side of humanity In the telling of this story. It won’t just be sad or angry tears! (less)

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Angela M
Feb 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021-favorites
I wanted to read an uplifting book and it might seem contrary to that to read a book which opens on 9/11, that horrific day. I had heard about this place Gander, Newfoundland and the generosity of the people there to the approximately 6,600 people who landed there from 38 planes, when American air space was closed after the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. I knew that this would most definitely be the uplifting story I was looking for. It’s about the kindness and generosity and ...more
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every year, around September, I start to refresh my memory of the stories of 9/11. Whether it is reading books (this year I read 102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers), shows on TV about the events of that day, or reading articles online. While I was doing some of that this year I turned to my wife and asked if she heard about the story of the city in Canada where all the incoming planes from Europe had to land? A few years ago, one of the shows I watched a ...more
Apr 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
On 9/11 thousands of passengers from thirty-eight international flights were stranded in Gander, Newfoundland. Unable to get off their planes for many hours, hungry and uncomfortable and with babies crying, these people, once allowed to disembark, were welcomed with open arms and generous hearts by the citizens of Gander and surrounding towns. People who on the surface had nothing in common had their lives entwined and became close.

One stranded couple DeFede follows had a family member who was t
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
On 9/11/2001 I was working in the basement of ACT doing data entry work. Word got out that there was an attack in New York and even though we were in Iowa, anyone who wanted to go home, could. I have a photo of my mom on the ferry to Ellis Island and the Twin Towers in the background that was taken on a family vacation in 1994, our first trip there since my grandparents moved to Florida in 1981. I have a cousin who worked as a volunteer firefighter, and both my grandmother and my great aunt did ...more
Kristyn Dayton
Feb 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Oh. My. God.

Everyone should read this book. No, seriously. DeFede is such a fantastic journalist and a fantastic writer. As someone who personally leans more toward fiction than nonfiction, I don't think I could have read this entire book without someone like DeFede weaving creativity and passion throughout the pages. A+ job, man.

Aside from the fact that it was a quick and simple read (I read it in a matter of hours while sitting at my desk at work), the story itself is pretty damn unbelievable
Mar 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read as a Bookcrossing bookring.

The only thing that kept me from rating this higher was the lack (?) of proofreading and fact checking. I can only assume that since this was published days before the one year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America that there was a rush to get this on the booksellers' shelves.

Examples (some, at least in my eyes, very glaring):

- the author discusses the Gander tragedy that occurred in December 1985. This involved the members of the 101st Airborne, headquarte
Blaine DeSantis
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful book that tells the story of the town of Gander, Newfoundland when over 30 planes were diverted to this remote area on 9/11. The book garners these stars not so much for the quality of the writing, but rather for the people and acts of humanity that town provided to over 6,000 passengers and crew that were forced to land there when US airspace was closed. We follow a few main passengers, a lot of the townfolk and a whole lot of compassion that this area of Canada was able to giv ...more
Dana Stabenow
Nov 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Okay, let me give the consumer warning up front--do not attempt to read this book without a box of Kleenex on standby. There. Got it? Good.

I saw "Come From Away" in NYC last month, the musical about the 38 planes that were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland on 9/11, and I immediately googled to see if there was a book about it. There is, this one, although it's missing some of the stories the playwrights found in their series of interviews on which they based the play (in particular the story of C
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Such an uplifting story born of such a horrific event. This is an affirmation of human kindness and generosity - much needed and appreciated.
The beauty of this book is that it captures the good that does exist in man. The news predominantly tells us of the bad. Hearing constantly about the bad, certainly does not make us better. Hearing about good people does! They set an example. They warm our hearts. They give a person the necessary extra little “umpf” to go on. I needed this book now. It is important books such as this exist.

This is a book of oral history, researched and written shortly after 9/11. It takes talent, albeit of a pa
Stephanie Fitzgerald
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who needs their “faith in humanity” recharged
My goodness, imagine what the world would be like if all people took care of each other the way the citizens of Gander, Newfoundland took care of grounded air passengers on 9/11/01. Sure helped to restore my faith in humanity, which takes a beating after reading world news nowadays. I wish there was a follow-up book, so I could learn what happened to the passengers after they left Gander. I’ll bet some of them returned; it seems like such a wonderful place that I want to go there myself someday!
Oct 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
Great topic and the people of Gander were heroic and amazing, but I did not care for the way this book was written. It was choppy and just never seemed pulled together. i would have rather read a few stories all the way through. I also think this book was just redundant and would have made a better magazine article than a book. It just seemed a bit superficial (not profound or thorough, really just grazed the surface). But I have never really heard much about what happened to all of the diverted ...more
3+ Stars.

September 11, 2001 - 38 planes of people landed in Gander, Newfoundland.

All the news coverage repeatedly showing the nightmare of 9-11 and not once did I see or remember anything about Gander and "the nicest people in the world." If you must be stranded somewhere, Gander is the place to be.

So many personal stories of interest are depicted here as the passengers and animals are welcomed with open arms and hearts after long 24 hour wait times on board.

These people are a wonder!!!

Jonathan K
Apr 15, 2021 rated it liked it
While I prefer fiction, it's true stories like this that restore faith in the human spirit. Amid one of the worst tragedies in history, the people of a town in Newfoundland shine as they embrace forlorn air travelers forced to land there. As literature goes its no masterpiece, but it's the facts that matter most. Every chapter evokes introspection, joy and faith in humanity. It's no wonder a Broadway play resulted! ...more
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was a painful read. The writing was like a talentless middle schooler's work, full of cliche, absolutely shallow. If the events it was describing weren't so inherently interesting I'm not sure I could have finished it. ...more
Dec 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio
A few friends saw and raved about Come from Away at the Boston Opera House. I had never heard the story of Gander, which makes sense, I suppose. This book was pretty typical in structure but for the people of Newfoundland...5 billion stars. It’s hard to believe it’s been eighteen years. Never forget.
Jocelyn Green
I needed this. The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede tells the story of how a town of 10,000 Canadians rallied around more than 6000 strangers whose flights were redirected to their town when airspace closed over America on Sept. 11, 2001. This is the true story of neighbors being neighborly, going above and beyond, and proving there is still goodness in the world. I found this little volume very cathartic and life-giving.
Carmel Hanes
Mar 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been a tough year. A year when I've said repeatedly, "I've never seen the like." A pandemic, social justice unrest and demonstrations, a devastating ice storm in our city, devastating fires nearby, political dissension and violence, economies shutting down...the list seems endless. It's been a time where hope appears anorexic, shrinking before my eyes.

And then there's Gander. And 911. And hope just got an I-V infusion that plumped her right up. I love Canadians. I already knew that, having
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars rounded up.

On 9/11/01, after four commercial planes were used as weapons by terrorists and were crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, the airspace over the US was shut down. Planes already in the air had to find the nearest airport and land. Immediately. Planes coming in from other countries were redirected to Canadian airports. 38 planes landed at a small airport in Gander, Newfoundland, depositing 6,597 people in a town that had barely 10,000
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
No one had to sell me on the character of the Newfies. I served with a good many since they join the military in numbers all out of proportion to what the population of their province might suggest. They do absolutely nothing to dispel the popular conception that Canadians are a bunch of amiable bumpkins. They are a breed apart, friendly and unpretentious, and their generosity in welcoming the passengers of diverted aircraft after the attack on the WTC is truly remarkable. Where others might hav ...more
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!
“Despite the risks, Canada didn’t hesitate to accept the orphaned planes.”

Feel good story of the decade!

On 9/11, when the United States closed its airspace, the danger posed by the passengers, and the responsibility for their lives, was deflected to Canada.

Canada's response:

The stories from Gander are the best of human kindness. Jim DeFede has gathered the warmth, humor, pain, and generosity of a remarkable moment in history.

Everyone should read this book.

*audible note: I enjoyed the st
Apr 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
When thirty-eight jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, on September 11, 2001, due to the closing of United States airspace, the citizens of this small community and surrounding towns were called upon to care for the thousands of distraught travelers.

The Day the World Came to Town records some of the remarkable but lesser known stories of 9/11 and shows how a community formed in the spirit of simple humanity does not exclude or reject people based on
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canada
On September 11, 2001, approximately 10,000 residents of Gander, Newfoundland opened their schools, shelters, churches, homes, and hearts to 6,595 passengers and crew members of 39 planes forced to land due to the closing of U.S. airspace. I am in awe of their generosity, kindness, and empathy. They offered rides, showers, food, friendship, clothing, toys, towels, sheets, toiletries, and Screeching-in ceremonies. Donations poured in from residents and businesses. It seemed as if everyone was vol ...more
L.A. Starks
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This heartwarming book about how the town of Gander, Newfoundland (a town of only 10,000 people) took in and took care of over 6000 airplane passengers stranded there after 9-11, when U.S. airspace was shut down after the attacks, is an affirming look at the goodness of people. Defede captures the generosity, energy, and-frankly also the expertise--of the people of small-town Gander and nearby communities as they cheerfully dealt with needs of passengers after the surprise landings of dozens of ...more
It will remind you of the worst in mankind, but it will also introduce you to the best in mankind, and restore some of your faith in humanity, when you read about the citizens of Ganger, Newfoundland.
Jul 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
This was a somewhat interesting story with amateurish writing. It should have been a long magazine article, not a book. It was padded with a lot of facts nobody cared about.
Jun 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
The unimaginable had occurred, the tragedy of 9/11. In the immediate chaos & uncertainty, U.S airspace closed and incoming flights were told to land ASAP. Many flights were sent to Gander, Newfoundland and thus these stories begin:

For the better part of a week, nearly every man, woman and child in Gander and the surrounding smaller towns-places with names like Gambo, Appleton, Lewisport and Norris Arms -stopped what they were doing so they could help. They placed their lives on hold for a grou
Jun 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
The 9/11 disaster is history now, but it is the sort of history that is always with you if you lived through it. At the time it happened, I knew the airspace over the USA was closed, but it didn't really occur to me to wonder what happened to the planes that were too far into their flights to turn back. The USA feared there could be other terrorists on those incoming planes, so the flights were re-routed to our quiet, patient neighbors to the north. Yes, many of those planes landed in Canada. Th ...more
Feb 16, 2017 rated it liked it
The book is poorly written and quickly became boring to me, but I did learn some things I did not know before. The reading group who chose the book mostly felt the same way and our discussion lasted about twenty minutes before it devolved into the usual these days: a discussion of our new President and how he is doing.

But the book: On 9/11 right after the Twin Towers were hit, the United States closed its airspace. You may remember. I forgot that part. All aircraft headed for the US from other
On the day that terrorists attacked the United States— September 11, 2001, four jetliners were hijacked and used as “weapons” to murder thousands of innocent people. At that time, the Federal Aviation Administration made an unprecedented decision to close U.S. airspace indefinitely. However, hundreds of aircraft were already in the air and bound for destinations in the U.S.

All of the incoming flights had to be diverted elsewhere. A total of 252 incoming flights were diverted to Canada. Canadian
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110 likes · 17 comments
“They placed their lives on hold for a group of strangers and asked for nothing in return. They affirmed the basic goodness of man at a time when it was easy to doubt such humanity still existed. If the terrorists had hoped their attacks would reveal the weaknesses in western society, the events in Gander proved its strength.” 10 likes
“Neighbor to neighbor. It is a mentality that has been fostered over centuries, since the earliest settlers realized the only way to survive in this desolate but beautiful outpost was to work together. Much of their music captures this spirit.” 4 likes
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