Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland” as Want to Read:
The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  16,198 ratings  ·  2,733 reviews
The True Story Behind the Events on 9/11 that Inspired Broadway’s Smash Hit 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 citi
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 3rd 2002 by William Morrow (first published 2002)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Day the World Came to Town, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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.
Julie This is the real story of the events in the small Canadian town of Gander. Because of the 9/11 attacks, the US closed down the airports and many…moreThis is the real story of the events in the small Canadian town of Gander. Because of the 9/11 attacks, the US closed down the airports and many planes were diverted to Gander. There is no specific list of characters in the usual sense - rather, the book is a compilation of lots of smaller stories of what happened in and around the town. It includes the people of Gander, as well as many of the passengers of the various planes (some named, others not).(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  16,198 ratings  ·  2,733 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Apr 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, own
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 memb
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Conner
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 d
Mar 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 Ai
Blaine DeSantis
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Light out of darkness

Who would have thought that someone could write a feel good story about September 11th, 2001, the day over 3 thousand Americans died in multiple terrorist attacks by plane. I remember my daughter calling me on the phone to tell me to turn on the TV. I turned it on just in time to see the second plane crash into the second of the 2 World Trade Center towers. I watched tv all day in a state of shock as the Towers crumbled, another plane hit the Pentagon and the brave pilot of
Apr 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 a fear of/>The
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
L.A. Starks
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
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 steady, warm, male narrato
Jun 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 05, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
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 Canad
Fuzzy Gerdes
I had a very interesting 2012 and one of the most interesting things—visiting Istanbul—turned into another unusual experience: our plane back had an engine die and we had an unplanned landing in Gander, Newfoundland. I was fascinated by the town and how a local industry was taking care of stranded travelers.

One of the stories that came up several times from locals was about how the town had dealt with 9/11. When American airspace was shut down that day, 38 planes carrying 6,000 peopl
Nov 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Being an employee of American Airlines, and therefore forever tied to the events of 9/11/01 on a personal level, I can't believe I'd never heard of this book until recently. What a fantastic book it was. The writing itself is nothing fabulous, but the story is, as well as the way the author weaves the personal accounts of so many different people together to paint the overall picture. Imagine that 38 planes carrying more than 6,500 people from all around the world converged on the town of Gander ...more
AnaLisa Odetunde
Just finished the book "The Day The World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada.
They accepted thousands from around the world on 9/11 and took care of them. Millions of dollars in food, shelter, and basic needs were donated. This put a whole new light on 9/11 for me. In a single town, the unity of the world in time of devastation was demonstrated. Everyone saw each other as merely human - scared, hurting, and surviving the unthinkable- the way it should be all the time. I believe g
Sep 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was great! Made you feel that people really do care out there. If only each community could have this spirit......what a better place this world would be!!

"For the better part of a week, nearly every man, woman, and child in Gander and the surrounding smaller towns stopped what they were doing so they could help. 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 dou
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
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are looking for a feel good story, this is it!! I loved what this town did to help out some weary passengers during one of the scariest times in our history.
Christina DeVane
Completely fascinating story! I never thought about all the planes that were redirected on 9/11 much less the 400 international flights that were received by Canada. Hearing how people come together in crisis is always a good story. I also learned how many were stranded close to a week, yet those few days together really bonded them. Some language in quotes. I also listened to this while flying myself so I feel like it added to the experience! ☺ ...more
Zohar -
f I started reading a book about 9/11 and a few pages into it found that an American General, a CEO of an international clothing conglomerate, several members of the board of a wealthy charity, an NYPD detective and parents of a firefighter who is lost in the World Trade Center were stuck in a small Canadian town in the middle of Newfoundland (not to mention a long-lost native son) I would have put the book away with a chuckle and started a new one.

Nevertheless, this is not fiction and the even
Mar 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everybody who can read
Recommended to Donna by: Jasbir
Shelves: non-fiction
An amazing story. I couldn't put it down. I want to move to Newfoundland now. When 38 jetliners bound for the US were forcd to land in Gander, Newfoundland, on September 11th the citizens of this communinity rallied together to care for thousands of stranded and very disturbed travelers. There was no stone unturned as they showed compassion and caring like nothing I have ever read about. I have never read a book about 9-11 because even ten years later I just didn't want to. I thought I had heard ...more
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When hijackers turned 4 large commercial airplanes into massive bombs on 9/11, the US immediately closed its air space fearing additional hijackers were on route. This left numerous international flights in need of an alternative place to land because they were too far to return to their origin. Canada responded by opening its airports to these stranded planes despite the risk to itself. The tiny community of Gander Newfoundland became the landing field for more than 6,100 passengers and crew. T ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story
  • Saved by the Boats: The Heroic Sea Evacuation of September 11
  • The Survival of the Soul
  • Victoria: Portrait of a Queen
  • Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library
  • Will's Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk
  • Love You, Mean It: A True Story of Love, Loss, and Friendship
  • Seven and a Half of Tons of Steel
  • Two Coots in a Canoe: An Unusual Story of Friendship
  • Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles
  • Don't Tell the Newfoundlanders: The True Story of Newfoundland's Confederation with Canada
  • Flight of the Dragonfly
  • Bay of Spirits: A Love Story
  • Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero
  • Something Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story about Racial Injustice
  • The Vatican Pimpernel: The Wartime Exploits of Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty
  • What Is Life Worth?: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Fund and Its Effort to Compensate the Victims of September 11th
  • Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip
See similar books…
“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.” 9 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
More quotes…