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Publisher's Summary

The New York Times best seller.

Winner of Audiobook of the year at 2020 Audie Awards.

Of all the books about 9/11 one has been missing until now - a panoramic narrative from the men and women caught up in the unprecedented human drama of that terrible day.

The Only Plane in the Sky is nothing less than the first comprehensive oral history of 9/11, deftly woven and told in the voices of ordinary people grappling with extraordinary events. Drawing on never-before-published transcripts, recently declassified documents, new and archived interviews from nearly five hundred people, historian Garrett Graff skilfully tells the story of the day as it was lived.

It begins in the predawn hours of airports in the Northeast, where we meet the ticket agents who unknowingly usher terrorists onto their flights. In New York, first responders confront a scene of unimaginable chaos at the Twin Towers. From a secret bunker beneath the White House, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice watch for incoming planes on radar. In the offices of the Pentagon, top officials feel the violent tremor as their headquarters come under attack.

We hear the stories of the father and son working on separate floors in the North Tower, the firefighter who rushes to the scene to search for his wife, the telephone operator who keeps her promise to share a passenger's last words with his family, the chaplain who stays on the scene to perform last rites, losing his own life when the Towers collapse, the teachers evacuating terrified children from schools mere blocks from the World Trade Center; the generals at the Pentagon who break down and weep when they are barred from rushing into the burning building to try and rescue their colleagues.

The Only Plane in the Sky is a unique, profound and searing exploration of humanity on a day that changed the course of history and all of our lives.

©2019 Garrett M. Graff (P)2019 Octopus Publishing Group

Critic Reviews

 "A hugely powerful new book." (Dan Snow)

"The most moving and chilling oral history you will read." (The Times)  

"Although many years have passed since 9/11, this book, told with such immediacy, brings so vividly back to mind the shock of that day, and why it continues to shape the tragic history that has followed." (Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower)

What listeners say about The Only Plane in the Sky

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Great audiobook?

This was an amazing way to experience 9/11.
Some very difficult experiences to listen to.
Very well worth the listen!

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Sad and so much courage

An really interesting look at this dreadful day through the experiences of many individuals. Fascinating stories and such moving courage for one's fellow citizens.

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An Emotional Roller Coaster

Such a lot has been written about 9/11, but this audiobook adds an extra dimension by focusing on eyewitness accounts, and the memories of those who were so tragically involved. Hundreds of people talk about what happened on that day - from the (so to speak) man in the street, right up to the Vice-President - and the emotion flows throughout every account. An absolutely absorbing story of the tragedy, and very moving at times. The one small criticism I have is that some of the accounts are just a single sentence, when I felt it would have been more effective to expand a bit on what they were saying. But it's a minor criticism, and I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook.

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Extremely powerful

This audiobook needs to be listened to. The approach taken is incredibly powerful - the chronology, the use of witness accounts from every level - the person on the street to the president, and from every angle - people who were there, people who escaped, relatives. The narration is also spot on - the diversity of voices. I listened to some samples from other audio books about 9/11, they don't get the tone right, this book does, including the use of voice recordings, e.g from air traffic control.

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Listen. Learn. Appreciate LIFE.

An amazing compilation of courage, sadness, loss of life but also of how we humans come together when we most need it. In the worst of time. Thank you for the author, researchers and narrators but mostly THANK you for those wo were not able to tell their stories and those who could. We must never forget 9/11 but at the same time we need to appreciate what we have now. An oral history of this magnitude took some doing and it kept me engaged the entire 15+hours - I did listen in shorter bursts though.

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  • Vivienne
  • 15-09-2019

A Powerful and Important Work of Nonfiction

This is the best use of the audiobook format that I have ever encountered.

Its full cast is well utilised to provide a chorus of voices recounting their experiences of 9/11.

On occasion actual raw audio is utilised from the day.

It is not only a powerful account but a very emotional one.

This is a must listen

11 people found this helpful

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  • LizzyH
  • 15-09-2019

A Must Listen For Everyone

Detailed accounts allowing listener to really empathise and relate to the horror of 9/11. It really does encapsulate the entirety of emotions from those involved and for those not personally affected, this book really makes your heart go out to those who are and highlights that remembrance is the least we can do.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Emma
  • 30-06-2020

Incredible piece of social history

I was concerned that the subject matter would be difficult and yet another rehash of the events of 9/11 but having unique first-hand experiences sewn together in a chronology and told through individual voices created the most amazing piece of social history. Yes it was heart-wrenching and touching but also hugely informative and human.
Can’t recommend this one highly enough.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Jim Vaughan
  • 29-06-2020

Gripping Minute by Minute Account of 9/11

I found this audiobook hard to put down. The range of voices, the pace of events and the comprehensive detailed accounts, from the boarding of the first plane, to the long term aftermath effects on those who were caught up in it, brings home the truly horrific and shocking nature of 9/11. The narrator is the thread that binds it all together. If you like factual accounts, of history in the making, this is hard to beat.

5 people found this helpful

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  • JFe
  • 06-03-2020

I can't find the words....

This book is a must listen to rather than read. It's an epic, heartbreaking, horrifying narrative to the start of the war of our generation. It's incredible, I was hooked from start to finish by the different voices which, gave an emotional connection to their stories.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Steven O'Brien
  • 10-02-2020

Gripping

Not even halfway through yet and I can’t stop listening to this book. So sad. Excellent use of of an audio book

3 people found this helpful

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  • Rui Ribeiro
  • 21-09-2019

A different but powerful account of 9/11

A very well research and organized account of 9/11. It conveys in its full brutality, the immense impact of the attacks on the lives of so many people. Includes testimony from all people involved, from the President of the USA to family members who lost loved ones in New York, the Pentagon or in Pennsylvania, where flight 93 crashed, as courageous passengers successfully prevent the hijackers from completing their plan to crash yet another plane somewhere else.
It's a powerful book, well worth listening to. Highly recommended.

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  • lawson
  • 24-06-2020

fantastic

I was really sceptical when I looked at this book. but having listened to it, it was an amazing listen with every perspective on the day.
to understand what individuals and entire groups went through. made this so much more in depth then anything I have previously read on the subject.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Reg Daughty
  • 25-05-2020

Compelling, chilling and moving.

Incredibly compelling, chilling and moving. I was a UK teenager on 9/11 so although I've always been aware of what happened, I never really had a good sense of the effect the attacks had on the people who were there and relatives of those people. This book captures the human element of the events like nothing else I've read. It conveys so well the worst of human nature, which caused the attacks but also the best of it as people in hellish circumstances risked their lives to help each others and look for survivors.

This book had me in tears at times with the tragedy and convulsing with fear to imagine from eye witness testimony what it was like to be in the situation. Thank you so much to everyone who shared their stories and the author for assembling them into this book. I hope everyone had the chance to read this and more fully comprehend what happened on one of those days in history that changed the world forever. As another reviewer said, this book ensures that the date events don't just become a statistic, and we remember the human toll though awful events took

2 people found this helpful

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  • William Rymer
  • 13-12-2020

9/11 Epic

I watched this day unfold for 3 hours during my lunchbreak as a suit salesman, cross legged on the local electronics store with 35 other retail staff in Cheltenham, UK. For someone so far removed from the events this story is still emotional and heart-rending.

1 person found this helpful

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