The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of September 11, 2001

Written by:
Garrett M. Graff
Narrated by:
A Full 45-Person Cast

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
September 2019
15 hours 57 minutes


Audio bonus! The audio edition includes an exclusive interview with Garrett Graff and Holter Graham as well as archival audio from United States Presidential addresses, In-Flight Communications, and Air Traffic Control.


“This is history at its most immediate and moving…A marvelous and memorable book.” —Jon Meacham

​“Remarkable…A priceless civic gift…On page after page, a reader will encounter words that startle, or make him angry, or heartbroken.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Had me turning each page with my heart in my throat…There’s been a lot written about 9/11, but nothing like this. I urge you to read it.” —Katie Couric

The first comprehensive oral history of September 11, 2001—a panoramic narrative woven from voices on the front lines of an unprecedented national trauma.

Over the past eighteen years, monumental literature has been published about 9/11, from Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower to The 9/11 Commission Report. But one perspective has been missing up to this point—a 360-degree account of the day told through firsthand.

Now, in The Only Plane in the Sky, Garrett Graff tells the story of the day as it was lived—in the words of those who lived it. Drawing on never-before-published transcripts, declassified documents, original interviews, and oral histories from nearly five hundred government officials, first responders, witnesses, survivors, friends, and family members, he paints the most vivid and human portrait of the September 11 attacks yet.

Beginning in the predawn hours of airports in the Northeast, we meet the ticket agents who unknowingly usher terrorists onto their flights, and the flight attendants inside the hijacked planes. In New York, first responders confront a scene of unimaginable horror at the Twin Towers. From a secret bunker under the White House, officials watch for incoming planes on radar. Aboard unarmed fighter jets in the air, pilots make a pact to fly into a hijacked airliner if necessary to bring it down. In the skies above Pennsylvania, civilians aboard United 93 make the ultimate sacrifice in their place. Then, as the day moves forward and flights are grounded nationwide, Air Force One circles the country alone, its passengers isolated and afraid.

More than simply a collection of eyewitness testimonies, The Only Plane in the Sky is the historic narrative of how ordinary people grappled with extraordinary events in real time: the father and son caught on different ends of the impact zone; the firefighter searching for his wife who works at the World Trade Center; the operator of in-flight telephone calls who promises to share a passenger’s last words with his family; the beloved FDNY chaplain who bravely performs last rites for the dying, losing his own life when the Towers collapse; and the generals at the Pentagon who break down and weep when they are barred from trying to rescue their colleagues.

At once a powerful tribute to the courage of everyday Americans and an essential addition to the literature of 9/11, The Only Plane in the Sky weaves together the unforgettable personal experiences of the men and women who found themselves caught at the center of an unprecedented human drama. The result is a unique, profound, and searing exploration of humanity on a day that changed the course of history, and all of our lives.
Profile Avatar
Anthony M.

This book has given me constant perspective. I am so fortunate to have the life I have and my heart throbs for these people in this book. This is a masterpiece.

Profile Avatar

This book was so good! It made me see things in a broader way. I feel like this book is better in the Audi version.. I have both. I liked the way you had different narrators and even some actual phone calls. It was a very important read.

Profile Avatar

Tragic book but such an interesting compilation of perspectives.

Profile Avatar
Amy H.

Thankful for the history preserved by this book. I plan to make my children read it when they get older. Never forget #44. R.I.P. Nicky B.

Profile Avatar
David P.

Really good!

Profile Avatar
Jose victor G.

Beautiful book !!! the events of that day affected and impacted all off our lives ... but not as greatly as the ones who where at the sites and lived it personally ... this book thru the telling of the survivors , witnesses and people directly involved .-Channeling my own experience that day , and my own experience with loss of loved ones .- I could for one second feel their desperation , anger , frustration and confusion. And most of all I could empathize with their loss. highly recommend this one ... its an instant classic 4 sure

Profile Avatar
Craig N.

A must”read” for all, especially during these times when we may question the human spirit. To hear the stories from the people that were, are impacted by the events of 9/11. May we never forget.

Profile Avatar
Caprice M.

Everyone should listen to this. It should be part of our history lessons in school. So thoughtful and well done.

Profile Avatar
Debbie J.

Incredible book!

1 book added to cart
View Cart