Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 (Garrett M. Graff)

It's hard to fathom that it's been almost 20 years since September 11, 2001. Most of us can remember exactly where we were that day when we heard that passenger planes had hit the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. In this day and age, it's easy to forget that after that horrible day, the nation was united in our grief, anger, and patriotism.

There have been countless movies, documentaries, and books that have come out since 9/11, but none has affected me so much as Garrett M. Graff's The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11. Graff walks the reader through the entirety of 9/11 by having the readers hear from those directly involved: the ticket agents who checked the hijackers in, the air traffic controllers, those in President Bush's administration, and the families of those who sat frantically by the phone.

For me, there were two parts that were most effective: reading about the normalcy of September 10 and the morning of September 11 and knowing what was to come and hearing from the 9/11 survivors. What stuck out the most to me was that much of the day was all about luck. Someone who survived may have made a left while exiting the World Trade Center, while their friend who didn't made a right.

Oral histories are always the most insightful way to tell what really happened, and The Only Plane in the Sky (which refers to Air Force One being the only plane in the sky when all the others were grounded) is one that will make you appreciate every second of your life.