Book Review

THE ONLY PLANE IN THE SKY: AN ORAL HISTORY OF 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff

Rating: 5/ 5

THE ONLY PLANE IN THE SKY by Garrett M. Graff has been a highly anticipated read for me. At the same time, I’ve also been kind of dreading it because I knew that it would be an emotional roller coaster ride of a read. I decided that this was one that I wanted to get on audio as it seemed very fitting for a book subtitled “An Oral History of 9/11”.

There is certainly no need to tell you what this book is about, the title says it all. 9/11 is one of those days that lives in our memories. For me it was a day that started in a panic. Being on the west coast, my radio alarm went off to news of the Pentagon being hit. Not knowing anything at that point about New York, my heart stopped knowing that my government employee father was back east for work, not knowing any more specifics than that. Thankfully my mother picked my call up immediately with the news that he wasn’t in DC. He was on lock down, having been in a meeting on a military base, but he was able to let her know he was safe. So many were not so lucky.

This book compiles the stories of so many people into one place. Many were familiar, but many were stories I hadn’t heard in the aftermath. It includes cockpit recordings and 911 calls from the planes and those impacted on land. Perspectives that are spoken of frequently like the first responders are mixed with some I hadn’t considered, like the ticket agent who checked the terrorists in for the flight.

The audio for this one is amazing, using a full cast to give voice to the different players which really helped the narrative to strike home. This is one I had to pace myself on, spreading out the listening over several days. The way the book is assembled, piecing together snapshots in a linear timeline made it easy to come to good breaking points to allow myself to think and to process.

If you haven’t had a chance to read this one, I highly recommend it. It will tear out your heart, but it gives voice to many and it is highly worth reading.

Reading Challenges:

#AroundTheYearIn52Books – a book inspired by a leading news story

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