Eight Years Ago - 9/11 in books

by kiya@evpl on Friday, September 11 2009, 12:02pm. Viewed 1,206 times.

I've read a few books about 9/11 that really touched me, and brought the events of that day home to me in a more personal way.

jacket of Touching HistoryTouching History: the untold story of the drama that unfolded in the skies over America on 9/11 by Lynn Spencer

This book explores the events of 9/11 as they unfolded to the folks who were right there - the air traffic controllers, the FAA decision makers, and the military and reservists who responded while the rest of us had not yet heard, or had just turned on the TV or accessed CNN online.  Quite enlightening, Spencer gives a real sense of how difficult it was to figure out what was going on and how to deal with it. It was difficult for the air traffic controllers to recognize that a hijacking had happened (so 80s, you know), and then the wrench of realizing that these hijacked planes were not being flown to Cuba, but turned into weapons of mass destruction.  By the end, I was in awe of the men and women who worked through the crisis.


The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFedejacket of Day the World

So when the USA closes its airspace, what happens to all the international flights already en route to the US? On 9/11/01, 38 jetliners headed for the US were forced to land in Gander, bringing over 6500 passengers and crew members to a small town of about 10000 to stay for several days, until American airports reopened. This charming book tells of how the folks of that small town opened their hearts, their homes, and their arms to welcome these strangers. Food was cooked, beds were found, pharmacists called doctors all over the world and filled prescriptions, and volunteers took care of the animals that had been traveling in the cargo holds of the planes. This is a heartwarming book that demonstrates that whatever weaknesses were exposed during that attack, the human strengths of our society were exposed as well.


jacket of Dear ZoeDear Zoe by Philip Beard

The events of 9/11 are beginning to show up in fiction as well.  There are many fine novels that begin to explore those events directly. This book, however, is about 15 year old Tess DeNunzio, who is trying to survive her family's personal 9/11 tragedy.  On 9/11, while Tess and her mother watched the news coverage, her 3 year old sister Zoe wandered from the yard to the street, where she was killed by a hit-and-run driver. Tess and her family struggled to keep their grief from getting lost in the larger tragedy and its aftermath, finally lapsing into silence. This book shows Tess' struggle to break the silence, and to bring her heart and family back to life.


These are three of the books dealing with 9/11 that resonated with me. Do you have a favorite to share?

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on Friday, September 11 2009, 2:39pm

I also read Touching History several years ago and was impressed by the herculean efforts on the part of so many to grasp and take control of the situation in the sky; it was quite riveting.

I haven't read  The Day The World Came to Town but saw a moving PBS production about this not too long after the September 11th events, and am glad that at least one book has been published on this subject.  I never felt the U.S. government expressed anywhere near the appreciation Canada deserved for immediately pitching in to help alleviate the suffering of U.S. and other airline passengers caught in the middle of the horror.

PotionsMaster@evpl wrote
on Monday, September 14 2009, 9:19am

One I came across is "Night Fall", by Nelson DeMille, when I was in college.  DeMille brings a street-hardened NYC detective married to an FBI agent to life in a fictionalized account of the recovery of Flight TWA 800 in 1996.  Demille pulls together some strange connections, and once it becomes apparent where the characters are heading to, I found myself filling with apprehension and dread.  The reader already knows what occurs, but the characters in the book don't.  It is well written and doesn't make 9/11 the center of the story, but definitely uses the fear it inspires for a powerful ending.

A word of warning, though; it is not a 'feel good' story by any means.  It doesn't showcase how kind people are in times of need, or how neighbors or regions reach out to help.  It is about cover-ups, lies, and conspiracy theories.  It's moving, alright, but it doesn't move you to where you would want to go.  I've wanted to reread it for 4 years now, but haven't worked up my nerve to read to the end again until now.  It shows exactly how well written the book is, for DeMille made his world real enough for me to relive the real events.

on Tuesday, September 15 2009, 10:00am

A few years ago I read a novel called Self Storage by Gayle Brandeis. It is not a book about 9/11 itself, but as the main character, Flan, becomes involved with her Afghani neighbors, it becomes somewhat a book about post 9/11 U.S.A. It wasn't the best book I've ever read, but it continues to pop up in my thoughts from time to time.