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THE DAY THE WORLD CAME TO TOWN: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland Hardcover – September 3, 2002

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Hardcover, September 3, 2002
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Editorial Reviews Review

The events of September 11 have seemingly been covered, analyzed, and discussed from every angle imaginable. So the subject matter alone of Jim DeFede's The Day the World Came to Town makes it noteworthy. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, 38 commercial airliners carrying over 6,000 passengers were forced, as a precautionary measure, to land in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada. Due to the ongoing closure of U.S. airspace, the passengers spent four days in this isolated town of 10,000 before being allowed to continue on their way. In that time, Gander's residents rallied together to extend a kind of hospitality that seems too expansive for the word hospitality. Townspeople not only opened schools and legion halls for use as emergency shelters, they invited the passengers into their homes for showers, meals, and warm beds while local businesses simply gave toiletries and clothing to passengers stuck without luggage. Despite the grim consequences that led to the situation, DeFede finds humor: two flight attendants are offered a car for sightseeing by a local woman who happened to be driving by; the stranded chairman of Hugo Boss finds himself shopping for men's underwear at the local Wal-Mart. But the real message of the book is how, even in times of great turmoil and conflict, people can and must look to one another for comfort, help, and hope. --John Moe

From Publishers Weekly

Journalist Defede calls our attention to a sidelight of the events of September 11, when the town of Gander (pop. 10,000) was overwhelmed by more than 6,500 air travelers grounded when U.S. airspace was shut down. For a week, DeFede relates, the locals provided food, shelter and supplies and reassurance; "they placed their lives on hold for a group of strangers and asked nothing in return." Here the generous Newfoundlanders get due recognition. Photos. (Sept.)
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Collins; 1st edition (September 3, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060513608
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060513603
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (403 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #275,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

120 of 122 people found the following review helpful By T. J. Mathews VINE VOICE on September 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
It's hard to believe that anything written about the events of September 11, 2001, could be described as `wonderful' but Miami Herald columnist Jim DeFede has penned a book that is all that and more.
`The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland' describes what happened when more than 250 aircraft, prohibited from entering U.S. airspace due to the terrorist attacks, were diverted to Canadian airports. Of those, 38 planes bearing 6,595 passengers landed in Gander, Newfoundland, a town with a population of barely 10,000. What happened next goes a very long way to restore the faith in humanity that was shaken by the terrorists. Without exception, the residents of Gander (They call themselves `Newfies') opened their doors to welcome the unexpected refugees and poured out such warmth and compassion that one passenger later remarked, "I was on a flight from London to New York and landed in Heaven."
Schools were closed to provide space for shelters. Residents took the sheets and blankets off their own beds to deliver to the passengers and stayed up all night to feed and welcome then when they finally were able to get off the planes. Locals approached `plane people' in the street and invited them into their homes to shower. Pharmacists made thousands of calls worldwide to verify prescriptions and then filled them for free. Shop owners gave away their stock to those in need and, when they ran out, bought more from the competition and gave that away as well. The events described in this book will make you either proud to be a Canadian or regretful that you aren't.
DeFede skillfully blends the tragic and the comic. One moment Gander's residents are compassionately providing around-the-clock care and companionship to the mother of a missing New York firefighter.
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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Rabbi Yonassan Gershom VINE VOICE on December 6, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It took me a while to get around to reading this book, because, by the time it came out, I was over-saturated with 9/11 materials. But this is a very different type of story from those about Ground Zero. When the United States shut down its airspace and diverted all those planes elsewhere, 38 of them ended up in Gander, Newfoundland, a fishing town of about 10,000. The reason was simple: Gander, in spite of its small population today, has an enormous airport. During World War II, American military planes refueled at Gander before heading across the ocean to Europe. Until the invention of the jet engine, Gander was the "biggest gas station in the world," and many planes still stop there to refuel.
Physically, Gander Airport could accommodate all those big planes landing, but what about the passengers? That's the real story of Gander -- how the people opened their hearts and homes to total strangers and mobilized every resource they had to comfort and care for the thousands of travelers who suddenly found themselves stranded. It was humanity's finest hour.
This book abounds with human interest stories, such as: the fire engine racing to the next town with sirens blaring, to bring back toys for the "plane children"; the animal protection volunteers who crawled into the bellies of the grounded planes to rescue and care for the passengers' pets; the American family returning from Kazakhstan with a newly-adopted daughter; the big party for the four kids with birthdays that week... and many, many more.
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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful By T. King on October 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Living just 5 miles from Ground Zero I haven't felt the urge to read any of the many books chronicling the events of that horrible day. On a strong recomendation from a friend I picked up THE DAY THE WORLD CAME TO TOWN. Yes this story will bring tears to your eyes but they will quickly be replaced by sheer awe at a community that, without a moment's hesitation, opened its heart and its doors to complete strangers.
If this story was written as ficton one would accuse the author of an overactive imagination. The people of Gander and it's neighboring communities jumped at the chance to render hospitality and comfort to the "plane people", as they referred to them. This story takes the reader through the full range of human emotions from tears to laughter. Yes, laughter. I want to go to GAnder myself and just hug everyone I see.
If you read one September 11th book, make it this one. It provides a lesson we all could learn about being a good neighbor.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Mathes on October 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book uncovers a more or less unknown story of the events of 9/11.
For me personally this story is very true. I was one of the passengers that had to divert to Gander, and as soon as the book arrived, I've read the book within one day. I just could not stop. Never before was I so emotionally touched by a book. Maybe because this book is about "us", who landed in Gander. I don't know. I have learned things from the book, which most of the passengers did not know before. It is just amazing how everything got organized by the citizens of Gander and surrounding communities with the support of the Salvation Army.
Jim DeFede picks a few passengers who were aboard different airliners and re-tells their story. I do have my own story (as probably every passenger who was stranded in Gander), and it is interesting to see how other people lived through the week after 9/11 in Newfoundland.
If you want to know about a different story of 9/11, read this book, and you will be amazed how people were helping complete strangers that were caught in the tragic events.
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