From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. While most Americans watched the 9/11 attacks on television, the guardians of the nation's air-control and air-defense systems had the unenviable task of trying to halt them. Working from interviews and tape archives, Spencer's minute-by-minute chronicle recreates their heroics in nerve-racking detail. In her telling, air-traffic controllers panicked as a seemingly routine—and quickly spotted—initial hijacking metastasized into a coordinated terror attack of unknown size and direction, and tried to divine which of thousands of planes on their radars had become guided missiles. Airline pilots dodged through suddenly chaotic skies while assuring suspicious control towers that they weren't hijackers themselves. Meanwhile, Air National Guard fighter pilots, hobbled by bad communications and misdirection, scrambled to defend against a murky threat. (Spencer's sources insist there was a fighter in position to stop United 93, had its passengers not brought it down, by having the pilot ram the airliner with his F-16.) Spencer, a flight instructor, expertly elucidates the complexities and pitfalls of American aviation as it faced a staggering challenge. (June 3)
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"Lynn Spencer...has spent the better part of three years interviewing commercial pilots, air traffic controllers, and military officials who played significant roles on 9/11, and in Touching History: The Untold Story of the Drama That Unfolded in the Skies Over America on 9/11, she tells their compelling stories.... By bringing these events and unsung heroes to light, Spencer has done a great public service. Her book is hard to put down, and a grateful nation owes her a debt of gratitude for undertaking this project."-- Wilmington News Journal
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"[P]repare for a quick takeoff with Lynn Spencer's Touching History...the personal interviews and Cockpit Voice Recorder transcripts of conversations between pilots and controllers are riveting.... The transcripts provide the book with a sense of immediacy, as though the reader was in the cockpit or control tower, while the interviews offer important background and context.... Spencer's book is worth reading as a thoroughly researched, clearly written account that offers new insights into that fateful day that changed America forever."-- BookPage
"Spencer shows how, with an American public stupefied by the unimaginable airline attacks on its homeland on 9/11, civil aviation and military circles joined forces quickly to fathom, manage, and defend against a then-unknown enemy....An impressively researched and compellingly written narrative of one of America's worst catastrophes..."-- Library Journal
"We need this book! Far too few Americans really understand what happened in the aviation system of the United States on 9/11: The heroic and selfless decisions and the heartrending attempts of airmen and controllers to respond to a developing catastrophe despite the lack of a viable domestic air defense system. Lynn Spencer has done a masterful job of researching, and then weaving together the story of that day in real-time, pulse-pounding prose. If this superb work doesn't invigorate a revolution in the way we view the role of air defense for the domestic United States, nothing will. Lynn Spencer's Touching History is a deeply moving and page-turning insider's brief of what really happened in the aviation system on 9/11. There are many heroes here you never met, struggling to respond with an all-but-dismantled system of American air defense."-- John Nance, bestselling author, Aviation Analyst for ABC World News, and Aviation Editor for Good Morning America
"Riveting! On that horrible day -- the first battle in a new and terrible form of war in the new century -- there were many heroes. Lynn Spencer introduces us firsthand to those who confronted an unprecedented threat, from desperate air traffic controllers, to government officials, to cities. We all must remember that day, and this fascinating and gripping history of the drama in the skies that day is a must read."-- Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations for UN Management and Reform
"One cannot fully conceptualize 9/11 until reading Lynn Spencer's book, Touching History. Witness how military and civilian commanders and pilots, air traffic controllers, and airline personnel responded to this 21st century attack on United States soil. Through firsthand interviews, she puts us in the cockpits, the control rooms, and on the tarmacs. Insightful. Exciting. Important. You won't put it down."-- General Richard B. Myers, Ret., Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"As commander of NORAD, I watched 9/11 unfold. Lynn Spencers tells it all and tells it well -- an enthralling read."-- Ralph E. Eberhart, General USAF (ret.) Former Commander, NORAD and Aerospace Defense Command
"Lynn Spencer has captured the essence of the terror of that day and the courage of the men and women who experienced first-hand the fallout of these horrific attacks and rose to answer the call in their nation's hour of need."-- Patrick Forrey, President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association
"The 9-11 Commission missed it, but Lynn Spencer nails it -- the dynamite, inside story of heroism on that fateful day. You'll live through hellish decisions with the real players. Well-written, breathtaking." -- Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Don Shepperd, co-author Bury Us Upside Down, CNN Military Analyst
"Prepare for a quick takeoff with Lynn Spencer's Touching History.... The personal interviews and Cockpit Voice Recorder transcripts of conversations between pilots and controllers are riveting.... The transcripts provide the book with a sense of immediacy, as though the reader was in the cockpit or control tower, while the interviews offer important background and context. Spencer's book is worth reading as a thoroughly researched, clearly written account that offers new insights into that fateful day that changed America forever."-- BookPage
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