Author: Garrett M. Graff
Published: September 10, 2019
Publisher: Avid Reader Press
Where I picked up my book: From publisher (THANK YOU!!!)
Key Words: 9/11, Oral History, non-fiction, terrorism
My Rating: 5
It’s hard to put into words how much this book means to me. I was in college in 2001 and I can remember that day like it was yesterday. The sky was blue in Buffalo, New York that morning and there was a nice, crisp feel in the air. We were listening to NPR in our art studio class and I was finishing up a linocut project on a back table. I remember hearing them say that a plane had stuck a building in NYC and I thought it must have been a prop plane pilot error. I remember thinking, who the hell doesn’t see a huge building from their plane?! I remember wondering if the pilot had a heart attack or maybe there was something wrong with the plane. And then the second plane hit and it didn’t take long for pure chaos to ensue in our classroom and on campus. I can remember what I was wearing, what part of the project I was working on and even the smell of paint and chemicals in the classroom at the time. I vividly remember the frantic feeling that surrounded so many of us that morning as we heard loudspeakers come on to tell us to leave campus immediately. I can still feel a professor’s hand where he grabbed my arm and told me to get home immediately and stay away from downtown (we are the second largest city in New York and there was a nervousness that we might be a target with Niagara Falls so close by). I can vividly remember the sirens going off in the streets and the frantic faces on my fellow students as we all left classes and campus to get home. I remember watching the news with my roommate for days in a row, only leaving the living room for short stints. I can recall the look on my friend’s faces when they said they now had to go to NYC because the President called in the National Guard and they were chosen to go. Like it’s yesterday, I remember the weeping and frenzied voices I heard in the halls that day as students frantically tried to get a hold of family and friends in NYC. Our city, state, country and world was forever changed that day and I immediately recognized that in myself, and saw it on the faces of everyone I passed that day and the weeks to come.
I also remember as the days passed, thinking that I wanted more. I wanted to know what was actually happening in the towers when the plane stuck the building. I wanted to know what the firefighters were thinking as they ran into the burning building and I wanted to know what it felt like to see so many of your friends not come home that night. I wanted to better understand what it was like to get a call from your partner, as they were up in the air, saying that they were on a plane that was hijacked. For better or worse, I wanted to know what it was like in those stairwells that day and just how it worked if you were on the 50th floor. I wanted to know what the streets were like in the following days and what exactly the flight attendants knew or didn’t know that day. I remember wanting to know how everyone got out of Manhattan and what it was like, if you survived, to get back to your apartment and realize what exactly had gone on. I was left with so many questions and truly, until I read this book, I felt like I was never going to get those answers. The Only Plane in the Sky gave me those answers and so many more. This book is not only packed full of information and first hand accounts, but the way it is set up is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. You walk through that day with precision, minute by minute, and if you’re anything like me, I think you will feel a bit more healed after reading it.
It’s really hard to put into words how important this book is for the world to read and just how much it meant to me as a reader. It’s a harrowing, educational, tragic, yet hopeful account of a day is history that has forever changed the course of the world. Please, read this book and let’s never forget the events of that day, the people we lost and the courage of so many. Come find me on Instagram and let’s talk about this one.