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

4.75  ·  Rating details ·  4,554 ratings  ·  893 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
Audiobook, 416 pages
Published September 10th 2019 by Simon Schuster Audio
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Average rating 4.75  · 
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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
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
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 remember
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
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.
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
Laura • lauralovestoread
"𝙷𝚎𝚢 𝙹𝚞𝚕𝚎𝚜, 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚜 𝚒𝚜 𝙱𝚛𝚒𝚊𝚗. 𝙸’𝚖 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
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
Kaytee Cobb
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Freaking amazing. 1 million stars
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
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
I can’t 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 I’ve ever read, a book I think should be required reading for all Americans, especially the younger generations.

I’ve 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
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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. 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 ...more
Chris Steeden
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is actually the first book on 9/11 I have read and it is very powerful. It really does bring home to you the tragedy of that day as we read interviews from real survivors / family members of those that died / emergency responders that were there either at the World Trade Center, Pentagon or the Shanksville site in Pennsylvania.

They say that you can remember exactly where you were when you heard about 9/11 even though I was over in London, UK. I was actually working for an American company
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
Kari Ann Sweeney
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio-books, 2019
“That passage of time makes remembering 9/11 all the more important. Indeed, to understand all that came after, we must first understand what it was like to live through the drama and tragedy that began under the crisp, clear blue skies of Tuesday, September 11.”

I thought I knew the story of 9/11. This masterful book unveiled that historic day through hundreds of compiled stories. Stories of gut wrenching loss and glimmers of hope. Stories I had never heard, but for which I am better after
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, friends, work
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
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
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The most difficult book I have ever read.
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 ...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.
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, nonfiction

[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
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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 ...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.” 3 likes
“Jean Potter, Bank of America, North Tower, 81st floor: "I would leave the house everyday and say to him the last line of this movie, The Story of Christ, "just remember, Jesus said 'I am always with you'. That's how I would leave him in the morning as I would go to work.” 1 likes
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