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The 9/11 Commission Report

Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks
Length: 20 hrs and 39 mins
Categories: History, 21st Century
5 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

Non-member price: $55.66

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Editorial Reviews

While few of us would tackle the printed version of the 9/11 CR, this production for readers on the go has emotional moments. The raw communications from civilians, operators, and firemen receive no elocution but paint chilling portraits. Five male narrators hustle their parts along, taking practiced turns at the one thousand Arabic names. The introduction lists the readers, but we guess who’s who. To indicate a direct quotation, one voice receives an echo. The hundreds of abbreviations shouldn’t be attempted in heavy traffic - in this report "GOP" means "Government of Pakistan." At less than five dollars for more than twenty hours, we thank the publisher for making this historic document so accessible.

Publisher's Summary

On September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people died in terrorist attacks upon the United States. Hijacked planes struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, while an additional plane crashed into the fields of Pennsylvania. This series of events resulted in the single largest loss of life from enemy attack on U.S. soil.

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, also known as the 9/11 Commission, was created by congressional legislation and the signature of President George W. Bush in late 2002. This independent, bipartisan commission had the task of producing a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the attack, including preparedness and immediate response, and providing recommendations designed to guard against future attacks.

The 9/11 Commission released their final report to the public on July 22, 2004. During the course of the Commission's 20-month investigation, the 10 commissioners and 80 staff members conducted more than 1300 interviews in 10 countries and reviewed more than 2 million documents. In the 17 days of public hearings, the commissioners heard testimony from 140 federal, state, and local officials, and private sector experts.

The Commission was composed of Chair Thomas H. Kean, Vice Chair Lee H. Hamilton, and Commissioners Richard Ben-Veniste, Fred F. Fielding, Jamie S. Gorelick, Slade Gorton, Bob Kerrey, John F. Lehman, Timothy J. Roemer, and James R. Thompson.

(P)2004 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • Audie Award Finalist, Achievement in Production, 2005

"The prose is free from bureaucratese and, for a consensus statement, the report is remarkably forthright. Though there could not have been a single author, the style is uniform. The document is an improbable literary triumph." (The New York Times Book Review)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Louie
  • 02-08-2004

Absolutely Outstanding Historical Document

I expected a dry, factual report. I was surprised to see this is outstanding, both in its content and in the quality of the writers that produced it. The report contains the details we would expect regarding the events of 911, but I didn't expect the background material that sets the events, terrorism itself, and the ominous future we all face now in a historical context that makes it all the more frightening. Excellent narration too.

63 of 69 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • John
  • 31-07-2004

Commission Report is essential reading.

This report should be required reading in educational establishments all over the western hemisphere, as it explains how pointers were missed and/or ignored by government and intelligence agencies in the USA, with tragic consequences.

38 of 47 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Cynthia
  • 07-09-2014

Still so very relevant

At the beginning of every September, A&E takes a few hours away from 'reality' shows like "Duck Dynasty", "Storage Wars" and "Flipping (some American city hit hard by the Great Recession)" and shows actual reality - 9/11 documentaries, or somtimes, sanitized 9/11 docudramas. The History Channel sets aside "Ice Road Truckers" and "Ax Men" and returns to its roots and spends the weekend showing various aspects of 9/11, from a long interview of former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani to a three hour show exploring conspiracy theories.

I don't watch those shows, but it's not out of sense of boredom or a misplaced sense of outrage that basic cable is exploiting the anniversary. 9/11 is history, and just like my father has had a life long fascination with World War II (he was alive for the bombing of Pearl Harbor) I have a fascination for what happened, and why, that beautiful September morning. The reason I don't watch the shows is first, I'm really primarily a reader/listener; second, "The 9/11 Comission Report" (2004) is so thoroughly researched and well written, it was a finalist for a National Book Award, and no non-fiction show compares to it; and, finally, I was watching CNN as the attacks happened. I don't have to see what happened on video again. I remember all too well.

I read the entire book on line in 2004, and every year since then, I listen to parts of this book. I've been doing this long before I joined Audible. Since the book has always been in the public domain, it's been available through Librivox for years. The Librivox version was read by 19? 20? volunteer readers, the year of its release, and the quality ranges from astoundingly good to mediocre, especially with pronunciation of The Middle Eastern names. After 10 years of war, we are all mich better at Arabi names.

The question is, isn't whether the book is worth the time. It most definitely is. It's like reading/listening to a Tom Clancy on steroids. So, then, is it worth it to buy on Audible a book you can listen to or read on line for free? It definitely was and is for me. I was able to easily download it to my iPhone, although it's 200 + mB, so make sure you're on WiFi when you do. It's well narrated, and the production quality smooth. The speed of the narration is a bit of an issue - one narrator is much slower than the others. Listen to that narrator at 1.25 speed, and it's fine.

Which leads me to why I listen or read, year after year. I worry that I'll forget. No, I'll never forget some things - like watching the second plane crash into the other tower, as it happened. But I worry that I'll forget the littler things, like Barbara Olson, the wife of then Solicitor General Theodore Olson, was on Flight 77 when it was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon, and she called him during the hijack. Conservative Theodore Olson was fresh from successfully representing George Bush in Bush v Gore (2000). Theodore Olson subsequently turned to Gore's lawyer, David Boies, and together, they were responsible for overturning laws against same sex marriage. I wonder if somejow, that singular assault on democracy on 9/11 made Theodore Olson a formidable champion of civil rights for a group that hadn't been embraced by the political right.

This book also has the clearest explanation of Islam and the difference between Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims that I've found. It explains a Caliphate - which is even more relevant today than it was 10 years ago, when the report was published. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (prosaically nicknamed ISIS) controls far more land than Osama bin Laden ever did.

I listen to remember; to think of how we all changed; and to keep trying to understand why.

[If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!

19 of 27 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Masquerade
  • 25-11-2019

Not definitive but still important

I saw Flight 175 crash into the WTC live on Good Morning America when I was 17 years old. It was a formative experience and in adulthood I've done my best to hunt down all the different perspectives of the day as I can. While I wouldn't call this a fully comprehensive or accurate account, it's an important part of the history of the event. The report was written in 2004 and is limited to information provided to the commission at that time.

I know some people are going to see my quibble about accuracy and get twitchy, so let me say this: I'm not a truther or a conspiracy theorist. I've just read and watched a TON of material about 9/11 and heard one or two things in this report that I don't think are true; mostly this revolves around what the president, vice-president, and other leaders said and did in the immediate aftermath. For example, my understanding is that Ben Sliney issued the no-fly order, but he doesn't seem to be specifically credited here: it's just a thing that happened. I attribute the inaccuracies to being written by a commission who was only three years out from the disaster and didn't want their findings to read as blame or criticism of the same administration that was trying to react to the tragedy.

The narration is good overall. However, it changes randomly between sections and I'm not sure why that is. You get your first narrator back for the last section, so at least there's that. Also, occasionally quotes are narrated with a weird echoing sound effect - it happened twice that I noticed and again, there didn't seem to be reason for it.

If you're looking for the experiences of first level responders, witnesses, survivors, etc., this is not the place for it. These crucial participants are referenced on occasion, but the report tries to be an objective retelling of events so you're not going to get a lot of the emotional response from reading this. If you're looking for a deep dive into events at the Pentagon or Flight 93, this won't help you. These events are addressed as appropriate, but I think because there was greater destruction and loss of life in NYC, that's what a lot of the report focuses on.

Basically, even for as long as this is, it's not written for exacting detail or emotional impact. It's for general background, context, overview, aftermath, and recommendations moving forward. I'd highly recommend reading John Farmer's "The Ground Truth" after reading this - he was a supporting staff member of the commission and has been forthright about its shortcomings.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Greg
  • 02-02-2009

More interesting than Expected

My concern before listening to this Report was that it might be too dry. After all, it is a government report and it is 20 hours long. I was pleasantly surprised. To me, it read like a well-researched history book. I thoroughly appreciated the detailed accounts of the events on that day, the equally detailed history of Bin Ladin and Al Quaida, as well as the extensive review of the response of the U.S. on many fronts. I want to listen to it again, and for a 20 hour government report, that is really saying something.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Brian
  • 06-04-2005

Best $5 you will ever spend

Although the 5 star-rating seems a bit overly dramatic, I think the rubric here is 3 - does not meet the standard (but if you buy it you'll finish it), 4 - partially meets the standard (good read but not life changing) and 5-exceeds the standard (captivates and makes you think differently). In short, this one is worth a listen. I did not expect to be entertained by a congressional commission but this often surreal story was captivating because it was nonfiction. It was enlightening to hear the story behind the media sound-bites of this tragic event.

7 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • RDP
  • 08-03-2016

Some stones are best left unturned

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Do not listen if you do not want to get angry or depressed. This book brought back too many evil memories that were best stashed away. My anger was directed at the terrorists mainly, but also at the incompetence of our government and its contractors. I could not get through it and I found that when I read it, my remaining day was ruined. Some stones are best left unturned

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • S. Kassebaum
  • 17-01-2008

Mixed Apeal

Part 1 of this chilling accounting is probably one of the best audio reads I've listened too...then, unfortunately, whomever produced the audio decided to change narators! Part 2 is narated very poorly, at a high rate of speed; making it extremely difficult to follow the details of what he is reading. I was imensly disapointed, and plan to write a letter to the production company. Hopefully you can get thru it and still get value out of the naration, but it made it too dificult for me -- I was very disapointed.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Anna L. Schwing
  • 18-05-2007

Important Read

Overall a good listen, the first few hours are very dramatic describing nearly every minute of each flight, what happened, who knew what when, all the audio transmissions from the planes, etc. Very much like the United 93 movie but for all 4 planes. The on-ground description of the fire/police depts at the world trade center was a excellent but emotionally painful listen. The Roots of Terrorism, UBL, etc was also very good. But much of the report is focused on the US intel community, it is very detailed, probably too detailed for the average listener. Overall, excellant value for the money even if you only listen to the first several hours.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Patrick K. Ryan
  • 06-09-2004

Excellent quality of content adn narration

I was very impressed with the quality of the presentation as well as with the narration. It helped clarify for me many issues of timing and planning that I had questions about. I especially enjoyed many of the pithy quotes which I am glad were leftt in. It made it less sterile and clinical. I am indebted to Audible for bringing it at such as reasonable price.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Paul c
  • 23-02-2017

Worth the cost

Interesting to hear the fundamentals behind the event but a shame they are one sided with it the outline the evidence shows and obviously controlled to keep to the given story we know of 9/11. Worth checking out because of the cheap price.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jeffrey
  • 10-02-2011

Surprisingly 'wet' -

I bought this because the price was so cheap. My expectation was that it was going to be a very dry congressional report that reads like an encyclopedia. To my surprise, it was a very well written, narrated , and interesting account of 9/11. Its more like a book than a report. If you think you heard it all about 9/11; you haven't. This takes you into the middle of everything that happened on that day and leading up to it. It guarantees to offer something you had not heard in the past 10 years.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Ben Hutchings
  • 18-06-2018

Ruined by terrible audio quality

Fascinating Subject, very formal narration but sounds like an old tape. Should be removed from audible and re-recorded.