Author: Garrett M. Graff
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.