An Oral History Of 9/11
Over the past twenty years, monumental literature has been published about 9/11, from Lawrence Wright’s “The Looming Tower” to “The 9/11 Commission Report.” But one perspective had been missing —a 360-degree account of the day told through firsthand.
In “The Only Plane in the Sky: an Oral History of 9/11,” Garrett Graff tells the story of the day as it was lived in the words of those who lived it. Drawing on never-before-published transcripts, declassified documents, original interviews, and oral histories from nearly five hundred government officials, first responders, witnesses, survivors, friends, and family members, he paints a vivid and human portrait of the September 11 attacks.
Beginning in the predawn hours of airports in the Northeast, we meet the ticket agents who unknowingly usher terrorists onto their flights, and the flight attendants inside the hijacked planes. In New York, first responders confront a scene of unimaginable horror at the Twin Towers. From a secret bunker under the White House, officials watch for incoming planes on radar.
Aboard unarmed fighter jets in the air, pilots make a pact to fly into a hijacked airliner if necessary to bring it down. In the skies above Pennsylvania, civilians aboard United 93 make the ultimate sacrifice in their place. Then, as the day moves forward and flights are grounded nationwide, Air Force One circles the country alone, its passengers isolated and afraid.
Garrett M. Graff is a distinguished magazine journalist, bestselling historian, and regular TV commentator, has spent more than a dozen years covering politics, technology, and national security. He is the director of the Aspen Institute’s cybersecurity and technology program, and is a contributor to WIRED, Longreads, and CNN.