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The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of September 11, 2001

4.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,968 ratings  ·  403 reviews
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.


“This is history at its most immediate and moving…A marvelous and memorable book.” —Jon Meacham

“Remarkable…A priceless civic gift…On page after p/>NEW
Audiobook, 416 pages
Published September 10th 2019 by Simon Schuster Audio
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Average rating 4.78  · 
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 ·  1,968 ratings  ·  403 reviews

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Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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 reme
Johann (jobis89)
Incredible book. Highly recommend - especially the audiobook! Full review to come.
Stephanie Fitzgerald
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who remembers that day, and especially those that do not...
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
Renee (itsbooktalk)
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 site ...more
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 differ
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fic
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.
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 hi ...more
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you read any nonfiction this year, it needs to be this book.
Tommi Clark
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
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 follo
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 h ...more
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.
Donna Hines
Powerful! Sensational! Riveting!
The war was started upon our soil but hell hath no fury like the rage we experienced at those who subjected us to such heartbreak.
I have no words as a minister of hospitality other than to say forgiveness is needed in order to heal with so many young children left behind now orphaned, so many lives tragically ended, so many families uprooted as they are still trying to cope from this unspeakable tragedy.
This was pure terrorism and let it be known
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, history

[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 co
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
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 abou
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
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to put into words how this book made me feel. This was a truly powerful reading experience. Through the voices of over 500 Americans, the horrific events of September 11th unfold. The stories of survivors, first responders, government officials, air traffic controllers, and loved ones will stay with me forever.
Donna Backshall
Sep 20, 2019 is currently reading it
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.

Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Another book everyone should read! I couldn’t tear myself away from this book even though tears were streaming down my face! This book made me feel these stories and images all over again and will stay with me forever. Absolutely heartbreaking and breathtaking, I am honored to be able to read such amazing words. Never forget 9/11.
Crystal Zavala
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
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, P
Theresa Cox
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I relived that day.

I cried my way through the book, while reliving that terrible day. And I mourned for America, again. Remember and never forget.
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very well done, a weaving of oral histories. Many stories you have never heard. But unimaginably hard to read at certain points.
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read (listen) for all Americans. I was in high school on September 11th and I really didn't know about a lot of the details. I'm so glad I listened to this and I look forward to sharing this with others. This book deeply impacted me.
Jenny Kruschke
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Only plane in the Sky is… visceral. If you only force yourself to read one 9/11 story ever, this should be it. This oral history of September 11, 2001 is harrowing and heartbreaking to read/listen to, but also powerful and incredible. Those of us who are old enough, remember where we were on that day. Being so geographically removed from NYC/DC/PA, my memories aren’t so much of fear but of confusion. I remember knowing that something had changed for our country, but not understanding the mag ...more
A captivating and devastating history of 9/11. This book is an oral history, following thousands of people who were affected that day - and its main focus is the experience of people that day. The audiobook is narrated by a large cast and contains recordings from the cockpit, telephone calls, and presidential messages. So many stories here were new to me and they were expertly pieced together by time and location. It goes back to previous threads throughout the book while introducing new ones.
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Garrett M. Graff, a distinguished 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 Bloomberg BusinessWeek to the New York Times, and served as the editor of two of Washington’s most prestigious magazines, Washingtonian and POLITICO Magazine, which he helped lead to its first Nation ...more
“Father Mychal Judge, chaplain, FDNY: Good days. And bad days. Up days. Down days. Sad days. Happy days. But never a boring day on this job. You do what God has called you to do. You show up. You put one foot in front of another. You get on the rig and you go out and you do the job. Which is a mystery. And a surprise. You have no idea when you get on that rig. No matter how big the call. No matter how small. You have no idea what God is calling you to. But he needs you. He needs me. He needs all of us.” 2 likes
“The vast majority of the sources for this book are pulled from the oral history projects housed at seven institutions: The National September 11 Memorial & Museum (New York City), the 9/11 Tribute Museum (New York City), the Arlington County Public Library Oral History Project (Virginia), C-SPAN (Washington, D.C.), the Historical Office of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (The Pentagon, Virginia), the Flight 93 National Memorial (Shanksville, Pennsylvania), and the U.S. House of Representatives Historian’s Office (Washington, D.C.), as well as interviews and stories collected by myself.” 0 likes
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