Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11” as Want to Read:
The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11

4.74  ·  Rating details ·  7,135 ratings  ·  1,427 reviews
The first comprehensive oral history of September 11, 2001a 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 Wrights The Looming Tower, which traced the rise of al-Qaeda, to The 9/11 Commission Report, the governments
Audiobook, 416 pages
Published September 10th 2019 by Simon & Schuster Audio
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 Only Plane in the Sky, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Kevin Kern Arimathea is right, this has nothing to do with the 9/11 commission. It is interviews with people who were in the towers, Pentagon, airports and…moreArimathea is right, this has nothing to do with the 9/11 commission. It is interviews with people who were in the towers, Pentagon, airports and families of those who died.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,135 ratings  ·  1,427 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If we are old enough to remember 9/11 we have a story to tell, even if that story is simply where we were when we heard the news. How could we forget the hours and days we spent glued to our tv sets as the horror unfolded before us? Most of us know someone, or know of someone, who was there that day, however tenuous the connection.

However, regardless of where we were, or how much weve read, we have an incomplete picture. There was so much I didnt even know that I didnt know and this book gave
Johann (jobis89)
"We met when we were only 16, at a high school dance. When he died, we were 50. I remember how I didn't want that day to end, terrible as it was. I didn't want to go to sleep because as long as I was awake, it was still a day that I shared with Sean. - Beverly Eckert"

The Only Plane in the Sky tells the story of 9/11 as it happened - in the words of those who lived it.

I almost can't put into words how incredible this book is. It was clearly impeccably researched with hundreds of oral histories
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
September 11, 2001 - We must not forget. The crashes of American Airlines Flights 11 and 77 and United Airlines Flights 175 and 93. The collapses of the South and North Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. The attack and fire at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The burning hole and scattered debris in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

I like millions of others who were alive and of age will always remember September 11, 2001 in disbelief, horror, astoundment, and tears. I was listening
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 its told. The first 1/3 is so captivating you cant put it down even though its painful to read. This book forces the reader to deal with the minutiae of 9/11 in a way photos or video clips dont. The scope of the book is impressive chronicling 9/11 in detail from start to finish.

The one thing that I didnt love is theres lots of people cited so its 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 remember
Renee (itsbooktalk)
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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.
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an amazing book that brought me back to the exact second I heard of the news of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center. The book detailed what happened to the people involved, the recordings of the event in the planes, the stories from witnesses, survivors and family members including our members of the media and government officials. There were so many details that were captured from the over 2,000 people that was represented and interviewed for the story. I learned a lot about ...more
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There is no other rating to give.

My full review is still to follow, but I wanted to list the below quote from Senior Chief Petty Officer Rob O'Neill, SEAL Team Six, U.S. Navy who participated in the raid of UBL. It is perhaps what moved me the most and I have a feeling it's because of who said the words, but also that they were at the end of what was a very emotional experience. Again, my full review is still to come.

"...We went in there thinking this was a one way mission. We had our last
Feb 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Brings back memories, with a few tears. I was flying from Chicago to Houston that morning, landing shortly after the directive to ground all flights. My Mom worked for American Airlines, based at LaGuardia. Just wanted to be home with my wife and daughters. Never forget.
Laura • lauralovestoread
"𝙷𝚎𝚢 𝙹𝚞𝚕𝚎𝚜, 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚜 𝚒𝚜 𝙱𝚛𝚒𝚊𝚗. 𝙸𝚖 𝚘𝚗 𝚊𝚗 𝚊𝚒𝚛𝚙𝚕𝚊𝚗𝚎 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝚑𝚊𝚜 𝚋𝚎𝚎𝚗 𝚑𝚒𝚓𝚊𝚌𝚔𝚎𝚍...𝚒𝚏 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐𝚜 𝚍𝚘𝚗'𝚝 𝚐𝚘 𝚠𝚎𝚕𝚕, 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚢'𝚛𝚎 𝚗𝚘𝚝 𝚕𝚘𝚘𝚔𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚐𝚘𝚘𝚍, 𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚗𝚝 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚝𝚘 𝚔𝚗𝚘𝚠 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝙸 𝚊𝚋𝚜𝚘𝚕𝚞𝚝𝚎𝚕𝚢 𝚕𝚘𝚟𝚎 𝚢𝚘𝚞. 𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚗𝚝 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚝𝚘 𝚍𝚘 𝚐𝚘𝚘𝚍, 𝚑𝚊𝚟𝚎 𝚐𝚘𝚘𝚍 𝚝𝚒𝚖𝚎𝚜, 𝚜𝚊𝚖𝚎 𝚠𝚒𝚝𝚑 𝚖𝚢 𝚙𝚊𝚛𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚜. 𝙸'𝚕𝚕 𝚜𝚎𝚎 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚠𝚑𝚎𝚗 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚐𝚎𝚝 𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚎. 𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚗𝚝 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚝𝚘 𝚔𝚗𝚘𝚠 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝙸 𝚝𝚘𝚝𝚊𝚕𝚕𝚢 𝚕𝚘𝚟𝚎 𝚢𝚘𝚞. 𝙱𝚢𝚎, 𝚋𝚊𝚋𝚎, 𝚑𝚘𝚙𝚎 𝙸 𝚠𝚒𝚕𝚕 𝚌𝚊𝚕𝚕 𝚢𝚘𝚞."

If I could give this book 1,000 stars, I would. I recommend every person to read this impactful novel.

𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙊𝙣𝙡𝙮 𝙋𝙡𝙖𝙣𝙚 𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙎𝙠𝙮 is an incredible narrative
Kaytee Cobb
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Freaking amazing. 1 million stars
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
I cant think of a better book to close out the decade than The Only Plane in the Sky. This is one of the most important books Ive ever read, a book I think should be required reading for all Americans, especially the younger generations.

Ive always been fascinated with people experiencing the same event in a variety of different ways, and this book fully takes readers through several of the countless perspectives of September 11, 2001. It was fascinating and heartwrenching to think of those
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 assumed I knew
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
This should be required reading for all Americans. The author did a masterful job of weaving the own words of people impacted on that horrific day to create a "complete" story of what happened. I remember September 11, 2001 but so much happened so quickly that most of my memories are emotional fragments. This book helped me connect my own experience with what happened to my country that day. Highly recommended.
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-star
This is one of the defining books of a generation; perhaps the best way to demonstrate to todays young people the reality of the atrocious events of 9/11, best described through the eyes of the survivors, government officials and emergency aid workers who lived through the day and its immediate aftermath.

The author does an stellar job of creating a forum for survivors to tell their stories in such vivid detail. The book is large, although divided into several chapters from the morning of 9/11
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 ...more
Robert Sheard
Feb 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most moving books I've ever read. I think I read it over eight sessions and probably cried during six of them. For anyone old enough to remember that day, this book brings back all of the feelings we experienced, but enhances those feelings with all the stories that we didn't know at the time.

I can't say how a young person will respond to this book, if they don't have a direct memory of the day, but the account is so powerful, I can only imagine it will be a moving experience
Anita Pomerantz
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant oral history of 9/11 as told through the eyes of those who were directly touched by the tragic events that unfolded that day. The author did a great job of organizing the quotes so that they form a comprehensive view of that day. So moving. So important. I have a new appreciation for what people went through, and also for the bravery of the first responders.

If you like non-fiction at all, this book should be on your TBR.
Suzanne thebookblondie
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 different
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you read any nonfiction this year, it needs to be this book.
Megan C.
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Haunting. Heartbreaking. Hopeful. Resilient. Patriotic.

I want E V E R Y O N E to read this book.

Better yet, listen to the audio - the actual recordings from plane cockpits, 911 operators, air traffic control, President Bush, and later President Obama (regarding the eventual death of Osama bin Laden) took this to an even higher level of excellence.
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.
Porter Broyles
If you are old enough to remember 9/11, then you probably have a story. You know where you were and what you were doing when you first heard the news.

For me it was Tuesday morning after the first ever game at Invesco Field. I lived in Denver. The night before, Denver Bronco WR Ed McCaffrey had suffered what would be a career ending injury. I stopped at a 7-11 to buy a drink on my way to work when somebody asked me, Did you hear the news? I responded, Yeah, that sucks. When I got into my car, the
Really emotional and impactful listen that had me in tears more than once.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Whew. I feel like I have been pushed underwater and held down, struggling to get back up into the air. The experience of reading this book, reading page after page after page of stories and perceptions and thoughts about 9/11, was devastating, troubling, horrifying, all-encompassing, with occasional moments of great beauty and transcendence. I don't think I have ever read a book that has been such a deeply emotional experience. I feel like I have been immersed in the day, as if I have somehow ...more
Listen to the audio book.

Listen to the audio book.

Listen to the audio book

I repeat, if you are interested in this book and have a long commute or you are one of those people who enjoy listening to audio books, do yourself a favor and pick up the audio book*. Narrated by a full cast of 40 different people, you will NOT regret it. Everyone's voice and reflections were fantastic and I was utterly enthralled the entire three weeks it took me to listen to this book on my commute. I can 100% say this
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow! This is a comprehensive and definitive oral history of 9/11. Im sure there are others equally as good but Ive not read overly much about 9/11. It was my 3 year old sons 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 hes truly ready - to understand how differently he was raised from that day forward and how his ...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 youre 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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Know My Name: A Memoir
  • Long Bright River
  • Dear Edward
  • Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators
  • Such a Fun Age
  • She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement
  • Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11
  • Nothing to See Here
  • American Dirt
  • American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century
  • The Dutch House
  • The Dearly Beloved
  • Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me
  • In Five Years
  • Open Book
  • The Holdout
  • Oona Out of Order
  • The Sun Down Motel
See similar books…
Garrett M. Graff, a distinguished magazine journalist and historian, has spent more than a dozen years covering politics, technology, and national security. Hes written for publications from WIRED to Bloomberg BusinessWeek to the New York Times, and served as the editor of two of Washingtons most prestigious magazines, Washingtonian and POLITICO Magazine, which he helped lead to its first National ...more

News & Interviews

  Mary Pauline Lowry knows a thing or two about being stuck at home when you don't want to be. After all, the premise of her newest novel, The R...
24 likes · 6 comments
“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.” 3 likes
“We took the time to shake each other’s hands and wish each other good luck and “Hope I’ll see you later,” which is especially poignant for me because we all had that acknowledgment that this might be our last day on earth and we went to work anyway.” 2 likes
More quotes…