Oral History in Review: The Only Plane in the Sky

October 19, 2021 Uncategorized 15 ★★★★★

Oral History in Review: The Only Plane in the SkyTitle: The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11
Author: Garrett M. Graff
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

Summary: This was tough, emotional read, but so worth it.

I feel like I’m getting to this book at just the right time as we approach Nonfiction November, because I added it to my TBR based on many reviews during the last two years of that event. This oral history of the 9/11 terrorist attacks completely lived up to the recommendations. I’ll have to remember to listen to you all when you say a book is good this year and bump it to the top of my list sooner!

This history spends more than 400 pages almost exclusively on the day of September 11th. The only exception is an epilogue that jumps forward first by days, then weeks, months, and years. The amount of research and organizational time this book represents blows my mind. Perspectives represented here include: flight attendants who checked in some of the hijacked flights; people on the flights; people almost on the flights; people directly impacted by the plane crashes and subsequent tragedy; military and civilian responders; family members of victims and first responsders; politicians; journalists; and ordinary people reacting to the events of the day. I’m sure even that list is incomplete. It was truly incredible. I was also thrilled to discover an index, showing all times any individual was quoted in the book. It made it so much easier to follow each person’s story in a cohesive way. Others have recommended this as an audiobook, but I would not want to give up that index!

The arrangement of the book as a whole also worked really well. The largely chronological storytelling was easy to follow. The author did a great job providing context and telling cohesive stories by interleaving quotes. Mostly though, what made this story was how emotional this event was. I was crying or almost crying at every chapter, sometimes more than once a chapter. This story involves so many instances were people almost didn’t make it or almost did. It’s also obviously a story about a terrifying series of events that results in a lot of heartbreak. It’s a very difficult read. I felt like it was worth it though, to remember what people went through. It was even enjoyable in a certain way. The story was so engrossing and it’s incredible to have this close-up view that makes you feel so connected to the people who were there. As you can probably guess, I join the chorus of bloggers recommending this one.

15 Responses to “Oral History in Review: The Only Plane in the Sky”

  1. Angela

    As difficult as this was to read at times, it was so worth it. It’s so important that we have this collection of oral histories.

    • DoingDewey

      Agreed! I am so glad that people took the time to collect this interviews. I should look for more oral histories, because it such an incredible way to learn about what it was like to live through particular times.

    • DoingDewey

      I definitely get that. Part of why it took me so long to pick this up was because I had to get up my nerve to read about such a tragic event.

    • DoingDewey

      Yes! I’ve really enjoyed every oral history I’ve read, but they can be hard to follow. Between the context the author provided and the index, I also found it possible to understand the bigger picture from this one.

  2. Lesley in OR

    I read this almost two years ago and thought it was outstanding. I agree about the index, but have considered listening to the audio for a reread. I’m not sure I could listen while on my walks, though. My neighbors would be terribly concerned to see me crying as I walked by.
    Lesley in OR recently posted…The Twelve Lives of Samuel HawleyMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      Ha! So true. Not sure reading it while driving would be ideal either and that’s how I do most of my audiobooks. Such a tearjerker.

  3. Rennie

    I’ve been wanting to read this for so long and always putting it off. It definitely makes me want to bump it up the list hearing your take on it and that you also wish you’d gotten to it sooner! I’m also really interested that it has all these different perspectives, I don’t think I realized the scope was so broad. And it does sound like an incredible feat of research and organization. Thanks for the excellent perspective on it!
    Rennie recently posted…Frighteningly Good Reads: Unbelievable and ZodiacMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      It was such an impressive book. I think you’d be as glad you read it as I was, but it’s a tough read and knowing it would be did make it hard for me to decide to pick up.

  4. Lisa W.

    I listened to the audio on this one and it is hands down the best audiobook I have ever listened to! Highly recommend it in that format!

    • DoingDewey

      I have to admit that I probably won’t revisit this one. It was really good, but such a tough read! I’m glad to hear that the audiobook was so good though and hope others will see your comment so they can better decide how they want to read this one 🙂

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