• The Only Plane in the Sky

  • An Oral History of September 11, 2001
  • By: Garrett M. Graff
  • Narrated by: full cast
  • Length: 15 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (2,017 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

A 2020 Audiobook of the Year Audie Award Winner!

A 2020 Multi-Voiced Performance Audie Award Winner!

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.

Now with a new afterword, Garrett M. Graff’s instant New York Times best seller The Only Plane in the Sky, the comprehensive oral history of September 11, 2001 called “history as its most immediate and moving” (Jon Meacham) and “remarkable...a priceless civic gift” (The Wall Street Journal).

Hailed as “remarkable...incredibly evocative and compelling” (The Washington Post) and “oral history at its finest” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), Garrett M. Graff’s The Only Plane in the Sky is the most vivid and human portrait of the September 11 attacks yet, comprised of never-before-published transcripts, recently declassified documents, and original interviews and stories from nearly 500 government officials, first responders, witnesses, survivors, friends, and family members. Here is a vivid, profound, and searing portrait of humanity on a day that changed the course of history and all of our lives.

©2019 Garrett M. Graff (P)2019 Simon & Schuster

Critic Reviews

"The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 is a book exquisitely suited to audio format, a detailed cataloging of hundreds of personal stories, read by actors and culled from 5,000 oral histories conducted and archived around the country.... We hear from first responders, office workers in the twin towers, people traumatized by witnessing falling bodies.... Unlike many works of history, The Only Plane in the Sky, a mountain of indelible anecdotes, does not feel like a novel. It feels, instead, like dozens that ought to be written." (The New York Times Book Review)

Featured Article: In the Oral Histories of 9/11, Grief, Hope, and Heroism Find a Voice


Memories passed down through storytelling have been a vital part of culture since the dawn of civilization, and we've all had moments of pained reminiscence: Where were you on that day? There are few accounts more powerful than audio recollections of the lived histories of 9/11—their words, their voices, their stories all ensure we will never forget, that the passage of time will never erode the memory of those loved, lost, and left behind.

What listeners say about The Only Plane in the Sky

Average Customer Ratings
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This should be required listening

This book should be required listening for all high school and college students and politicians.
It is one of the hardest books I have listened to, due to the emotions of the people telling in their own voices the events of that day. The book itself is extremely well done. It flows very well. I have learned much from this book. I also have used many Kleenex during it.
I watched this event happen via computer video and TV. I am in awe of the bravery of those that experienced it in person.
Thank you for this book.
After listening, no one will ever forget 9-11-01.

44 people found this helpful

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Prepare yourself...

This book is excellent. However, there were many moments when I needed to stop reading and collect myself. It is very emotional at times and extremely sad. It contains voices that remind one how cruel people can be (the perpetrators) but also how kind, thoughtful and resilient people are at their best. It is a testament to the human spirit but it is also extremely dark at times, as people describe the horrible impact that day had on their lives, and how 9/11 resonates down through the years.

35 people found this helpful

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It was a privilege to have listened to this

It can’t be understated how remarkable this undertaking was and how valuable it could be to the historical record. I can’t think of a corollary artifact for any other milestone event in history, and certainly none that focuses so acutely and vividly on the experiences of the people involved.

If you’re interested from a production standpoint, it’s excellent. The performances were incredible, as is the flow, divisions, and pacing of the narrative.

Thank you to all involved.

25 people found this helpful

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An emotional roller coaster!

What a heartbreaking yet uplifting story. It brought back all the anger and pain of that day. An unusual listen yet I liked it. It didn’t take me long to figure out I needed to have tissues on hand for every listening session. My wife asked me “why listen to a book that makes you cry every time you listen to it?” My reply, “because I need to hear it.”

43 people found this helpful

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Important to Listen

I got this expecting to cry through the entire thing. Instead, I listened with respect and love. To fully understand 9/11 past the facts and figures, one needs to understand the humanity. This book helps with that. It was worth the purchase despite the fact that I generally prefer fantasy fiction.

19 people found this helpful

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Incredible Book!!!

Brilliantly written, honored all the victims and heroes of 911. The narration is perfect throughout. The detail of the tragedy is very extensive and well laid out. No matter how much TV coverage you may have watched of 911 this book will enlighten you to the real horrors and miracles that took place that day.

16 people found this helpful

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Add this book to the top of your reading list

I'm not eloquent ...and can't capture my thoughts and emotions in such a way that will captivate you and inspire you to listen to this book. But you simply must. And you MUST listen. If there was ever a book that was designed to be listened to instead of read, it is this oral history. WE. MUST. NEVER. FORGET.

15 people found this helpful

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Devastating.

I only listen for short periods of time. I hope anyone reading the book will consider listening to the Audible edition. It accurately reflects the utter chaos on Capitol Hill. And the horror of smelling the Pentagon burn while trapped in gridlocked traffic.

48 people found this helpful

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This is a must listen book

This is an awesome piece of work. To hear all the accounts put end to end is really amazing. I think this is perhaps the most moving literary work that I’ve heard on the topic of 9/11.

11 people found this helpful

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Overall book

I kept hearing the same story from the same people.
A lot of the book was repeated starting chapter 22.
Was not what I expected

10 people found this helpful

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  • Vincent
  • 10-07-19

Incredibly poignant and inspiring

A unique perspective into affects of the 9/11 tragedy on real people. I was touched by the raw emotions of the individual struggles and bravery of normal people on the day and even as an Australian was proud of what normal American people did on the day for America, each other and themselves.

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  • DixieChick
  • 09-24-19

Hauntingly beautiful, sad and inspirational.

A remarkable accomplishment and a story so vast and deep and everlasting that it needed to be told in this way.
Graff has done a masterful job and captured voices we know, and, more importantly, voices we don’t.
The selflessness and heroism of so many in this book is uplifting, as is the sheer big-heartedness of others who put their shoulders to the wheel to help strangers in their greatest hours of need.
This book is a testimony to humanity, and a memorial to the intrinsic goodness and decency of most people.
Highly recommended.