Customer Reviews: The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11
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on July 20, 2011
The Eleventh Day, by "New York Times" best selling authors Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan, is a game changer, the new definitive timeline for 9/11, a superb and detailed extension of the work of the 9/11 Commission and the Congressional Joint Inquiry. Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan's work is peerless in the depth, breadth, and accuracy of their research and reporting. Together, this experienced team has cleared the air of suspect research and speculation, an invaluable service to future researchers and historians.

The game change comes on page 118. Citing investigative writer David Corn, the author's conclude a detailed examination of conspiracy theories with this summary:

"The legacy of the spurious doubts, though, has been that far too little attention has been given to the very real omissions and distortions in the official reporting. The conspiracy theorizing in which the skeptics indulged, David Corn has rightly said, "distracts people from the actual malfeasance, mistakes and misdeeds of the U.S. government and the intelligence community." There were certainly mistakes, and there may have been wrong doing."

Depth of research

In my estimation, no one knows more about the day of 9/11 than Robbyn Swan and no one knows more about the body of information, pre-event, event, and post-event necessary to competently discuss 9/11 than Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan.

Here are just a few examples of the thoroughness of their meticulous work.

1. Obtained, prior to publication, a copy of Kevin Fenton's contemporary book, "Disconnecting the Dots"

2. Filed multiple FOIA actions, to include a critical request for a mandatory declassification review. That action surfaced a Commission staff iteration of the Air Threat Conference transcript

3. Developed a close and continuing relationship with NARA staff to facilitate exploitation of Commission files

4. Sought out the single public person most knowledgeable about the contents of the 9/11 Commission files as uploaded to the History Commons Scribd account, and obtained a searchable DVD that greatly facilitated exploitation of the Commission files

5. Sought and obtained responsive foreign language documents and interviewed comprable sources, if at all possible

6. Called on a vast number of sources cultivated over the decades of previous work

7. In March 2010, printed out every document in the archives of my website and added to that compilation over time.

A more detailed review can be found at my website "9-11 Revisited."

Miles Kara
Professional Staff, 9/11 Commission
Professional Staff, Congressional Joint Inquiry
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on August 31, 2011
In general, this is a very good book and the chronology of 9/11 is lucid, debunking the more unlikely conspiracies.

The pre-9/11 history is recounted adequately although there seems to be rather a heavy reliance on Bin Laden's son Omar. He has recently married a British woman and was initially refused the right to live in the UK, although I expect he is trying to rectify that decision. With that in mind, I would personally be more wary than the authors of his account. Or to put it another way, I wouldn't believe a word he says.

If anything it isn't harsh enough on the administration. Cheney comes out of it reasonably well. It seems evident that he was calling the shots on 9/11 while Bush scurried round the country. An embarrassment for the president that required the tidying up of the official record to obscure this fact.

Rice, Ashcroft and, to a lesser extent, Tenet come out badly and deserve to be skewered more thoroughly in the book. Rumsfeld emerges as a far more ambivalent character. Iago-like he schemes in the background. If there is a conspiracy, the book implies Rumsfeld is, if not in on the loop, at the very least rather ambiguous about his movements on the day. In my opinion, this is more likely to be the instincts of the 30-year veteran of bureaucracy.

My main criticism is an unfortunate one of timing. Clearly the elimination of Bin Laden caught the authors on the hop and required them to churn out a revised conclusion.

The problem is that it seems clear that the original conclusion centred on the culpability of the Saudis. The revised conclusion inculpates the Pakistanis - as it was obliged to, given the circumstances of Bin Laden's killing. This aspect is less than convincing and I would expect a far stronger conclusion in a revised edition.

In short, an excellent book but, curse of events, be tempted to wait for the next edition.
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on September 10, 2011
I have long been an admirer of the work of Anthony Summers, one of the world's great investigative journalists.

His biographical notes on J. Edgar Hoover, Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover are required reading for an understanding of how the center of American power operated for a major portion of the 20th century.

His first book on the Kennedy assassination, Conspiracy, is the greatest book ever written on that event, and it has never been surpassed for the depth of its analysis and gripping nature of its writing. Indeed, because so little new evidence of any importance has emerged since that time, it remains the definitive study.

When I read that he was publishing a book on 9/11 - an event around which swirl clouds of doubt and mystery as great as the ferocious storm of dust which swept through lower Manhattan when the World Trade Center collapsed - I was ready to devour it.

And while there is a good deal to admire in the new book, my lasting impression is one of disappointment. It simply does not measure up to what I think of as the standard of excellence set previously by Mr. Summers.

There are assumptions here I cannot accept without better evidence, much of the main thread of detailed facts contained come ultimately from American torture of countless people in the CIA's "rendition program," a bureaucratic euphemism for an international torture gulag, and there are important facts not even touched on.

I have never accepted notions like insider plots and false flag operations pertaining to this event, but anyone who has followed matters over the last decade knows that a great deal remains obscured and unexplained, almost certainly deliberately so by the American government.

Mr. Summers believes it is essentially for several reasons: one is to cover up the close to utter incompetence of the CIA and other agencies leading up to the event. Another is to cover up the almost criminal incompetence of the Bush administration both before and after the event. And another is to guard the long and deep and fairly secret intimate relationship America has with Saudi Arabia.

I accept all of these, but none of them comes as news to critical observers over the years and I do not believe they add up to an explanation of what happened on 9/11.

The CIA has flopped countless times - failing to correctly read the Soviet Union's economic and military power, failing even to predict its collapse, failing completely in either preventing or investigating Kennedy's assassination, and being the author of countless lunatic plots like the Bay of Pigs Invasion. The agency has squandered vast amounts of money in often counterproductive schemes since its creation following World War II, so its failure with regard to 9/11 was for me the expected norm.

The same Bush administration, which gave us a world record limp and pathetic performance for a government during Hurricane Katrina, could not be expected to operate in an entirely different mode around 9/11, and it most certainly did not.

The relationship with Saudi Arabia is one of those not-much-discussed matters in America, but it is a necessity so long as America keeps building three-car garages out into the desert of the Southwest.

New facts Summers presents us with are interesting and not contemptible, but they are inadequate to our curiosity. Some of those involved in 9/11 from Saudi Arabia may well have been double or triple agents for Saudi intelligence. Osama bin Laden was paid handsomely by Saudi princes to keep his various operations off Saudi soil, thus indirectly funding 9/11. After dumbly dawdling at a school-reading photo-op, Bush was finally whisked away in Air Force One where the commander-in-chief was virtually out of the loop with remarkably faulty communications. His Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, the number two man in a wartime chain of command, was for some time wondering around the Pentagon unavailable to military commanders needing his authority.

Summers pretty well accepts the official version of 9/11, with the important proviso that the official version, the commission report, includes such matters as the fact that there was little cooperation from Bush officials during the investigation, and the CIA certainly did not explain itself adequately.

The collapse of building 7, which was not hit by an airplane and which occurred after the collapse of the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center, is attributed to debris falling from the other towers. I just don't know, but it did bother me that Mr. Summers seemed to go out of his way to poke fun at some of the scientists or engineers who doubt that.

The large effort of Israeli spies around 9/11 is not even mentioned in the book, and I found that a disturbing omission.

There was a group of five Israeli spies who were seen on the roof of their truck taking pictures of the explosions and then behaving in a raucous congratulatory manner, yelling and high-fiving. The police were called and they were arrested, but we know nothing of their purpose or achievements. There was another large group of Mossad agents posing as art students who travelled around the country apparently following some or all of the 9/11 plotters. They, too, were arrested and later deported, but we know nothing of them.

Summers accepts the "let's roll" scenario for the fourth high-jacked plane which crashed in Pennsylvania, but I have always doubted it. First, the photos of the debris field certainly suggest to a non-technical person that it may have been shot down. Second, after three deliberate crashes into buildings, it seems almost unbelievable that the huge air defenses of the United States had not finally taken action. Third, on at least one occasion, Donald Rumsfeld spoke to the press inadvertently using the expression "shooting down" the plane over Pennsylvania in discussing the high-jackings. Fourth, only naturally, the United States' government would not publicize the shooting-down of a civilian airliner because the resulting lawsuits would be colossal. I am willing to be convinced otherwise, but Mr. Summers does not succeed in doing it for me.

Another, important fact is not mentioned in the book. An American consular official at the time was complaining in public about all the visas they were issuing in the Middle East owing to pressure from the CIA. It was not a headline story, but it was an important clue to something unusual going on.

I have always regarded it as a strong hypothesis that the high-jackers were part of a secret CIA operation which badly backfired, an operation which saw many questionable people receiving visas and being allowed to do some pilot training. Risky CIA operations have a number of times backfired, and they even have nickname for that happening, blowback.

Of course, we could see the entire matter also as blowback from the CIA's secret war against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Fundamentalist Muslims in Afghanistan, Mujahideen, were recruited, provided training and money and sophisticated weapons to fight the Soviets. Several billion dollars were poured in. Osama bin Laden was himself part of the business, but, as Mr. Summers agrees, he later did not see the United States as any different to the Soviets when they sent troops onto the sacred soil of Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Summers is trying to place a good deal of blame on the Saudis for their funding and secret operations, and while I regard it as an interesting observation that certain members of the royal family paid him, I do not regard that as a stunning fact. After all, Saudi Arabia's countless billions come in good part either directly or indirectly from the United States and Osama bin Laden's family was a very successful wealthy contractor there, so you could say in the same sense that the United States subsidized Osama's operations. And it goes deeper than that, for Saudi business connections in the United States, including connections directly with the Bush family, go back many years.

This reader for one would like to see some hard proof of some things that Mr. Summers takes as fact. First, that bin Laden even was responsible for 9/11: the public has never been provided a shred of good evidence. Second, that bin Laden was not in fact killed in the unbelievable bombardment at Tora Bora, his death being kept hidden to prevent martyrdom. Third, that the recent assassination in Pakistan was genuine, not the effort of a president down in the polls and feeling that after ten years he could afford to make the claim.

Fourth, that there ever was an organization called al Qaeda. I know that sounds odd to people who assume everything they hear on television is true, but there are good reasons for doubting it. While Mr. Summers gives one translation for the Arabic word, people who speak Arabic have said it commonly means toilet, and surely no one running a terror organization would use such a name. Indeed, we have several very prominent people quoted in the past, including former British Foreign Minister Robin Cook, saying that al Qaeda was just a derogatory catch-all term used for various "bad guys" out there. That is a tremendously meaningful difference between the two things, but Mr. Summers does not touch the issue.

Again, I cannot stress how important it is for all decent-minded people holding to democratic values to accept neither the CIA's international torture gulag nor the results of its dark work. Yet the bulk of Mr. Summers' idea of events is based on evidence deriving ultimately from torture, the people being tortured never receiving the benefits of counsel, fair trial, or even opportunity to rebut.

In summary, a book worth reading, if only to get mad at, but hardly represents a definitive effort on its subject.
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This book was simply a superb analysis of the events surrounding the 9/11 attacks. It seems to be extraordinarily well researched and seems to hit just the right tone and depth. I thought it was very fair. It properly dismisses the conspiracy extremes, but yet there is a lot of space devoted in this book to the failures and lies by government officials to cover up their incompetence in preventing the attacks as well as the blindness to the complicity of our alleged friends like the Saudis. Everything is very well documented. I read this book over two days and I learned a tremendous amount about 9/11. I think the information about Saudi support of Al Qaeda would shock most Americans. The authors of this book have done a tremendous job in adding to the historical analysis of 9/11 in a very rigorous manner that any intelligent reader will appreciate.

This book is highly recommended to anyone who wants to learn more about 9/11. Whether you agree with it's conclusions in their entirety or not, you will surely learn a great deal from it. Two big thumbs up.
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We're nearing the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks and I think there will be a lot of books released to coincide with the event. Most could not surpass the superb analysis and writing of the writing team of Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan in their new book, "The Eleventh Day".

If a reader is looking for confirmation of conspiracy plots in the hijacking attacks, he won't find them in Summers and Swan's book. They disregard the "inside job" by the Bush administration as basic hogwash. I agree. For one thing, a co-ordination of hijacked planes hitting the buildings at the same time of pre-set dynamite blasts to bring the buildings down would be beyond possibility. What are the chances the exact timing would happen to synchronize both? Not higher than zero, I'd suspect. (And what are the chances that the Bush administration - not exactly known for its efficiency - could pull this off?)

Now, the idea of Bush administration officials dropping the ball on warnings they had been receiving all spring and summer of 2001 is much more probable. Since taking office, all levels of the executive branch had received warnings from the Clinton administration's team about the problems facing the United States about Bin Ladin and Al Qaeda. That they chose not to act on these warnings - "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike In US" has to be the most famous/infamous ignored PDB in US history - and was delivered to President Bush on August 6th, 2001, and is a sad story in itself. Little more than one month later, two hijacked airlines flew into the WTC, one into the Pentagon, and one crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.

But if the Bush administration was lax, the FBI and CIA were not on the phone, sharing data that would have been helpful in putting the pieces together on the attack being planned. There were thoughts and ideas by the CIA and FBI at local levels but none of the agents working on terrorism that year were able to interest the next level up in their findings. The people who were really piecing a puzzle together were those planning it, Osama Bin Ladin and his operatives who were amazingly efficient in making an improbable attack work. (Swan and Summers suggest that a fifth flight, UA23, might also have been targeted as a hijacked bomb.)

Summers and Swan have really put together a soberly written book about the attacks of September 11th. There's no sensationalism in their writing - the facts themselves are sensational enough. The authors look at all aspects of the attack and both pre- and post-attack. Their writing is strong and their book is an excellent look at a very bad time in our history.
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on September 23, 2011
Until the definitive 9-11 book comes along (and it will) this book will have to do. Heard them on a talk show one evening (John Batchelor WABC) and immediately ordered the book from amazon. They are British and I feel they can step back and be a little more independent in their thinking. American authors are too close to the subject emotionally, I believe, to be objective in certain areas.

There are many people out there (and I know a few personally) who will never be convinced that 9-11 was not an 'inside job' and that the Pentagon was not hit by a plane but a missile, the Twin Towers were demolished by bombs planted by Americans, and the planes that crashed that day were drones.

Page-by-page the authors carefully put the puzzle together so that by page 100 you pretty much have a blueprint of the actions of the day. However, it is very clear that numerous questions regarding the White House and whether the President/Vice President ordered fighter jets to shoot down suspicious planes that morning remain unanswered. The military, White House operatives & those-in-the-know have differing opinions of what transpired while Bush was in the air.

They have interviewed many people who were at the scene that morning and have poured over countless reports and studies. What they write is convincing. It is not a book you can read cover-to-cover in one sitting. It is laborious and time-consuming because it transforms you back to that bright, sunny September morning in NYC when all was well one moment and all hell breaks out in a heartbeat.

I still have questions about that day I am sure will never be answered to my satisfaction. Ten years later, I cannot shake the 'gut' feeling I have about the French brothers who just happened to be in NYC, just happened to be filming a documentary on NYC Firemen, who just happened to be stationed within visual site of the World Trade Centers, who just happened to be in the street when the first plane hit, who just happened to take the only known shots of the plane hitting the tower, who somehow managed to gain access (carte blanche)to action inside the WTC when no American cameras were allowed in, and who both somehow managed to make it out alive!!! No one will ever convince me this was just a lucky break for these two foreign photographers.

With that exception, I believe what we saw happen on 9-11 happened as we saw it. No missiles under the planes, no bombs planted in the WTC that brought the buildings down, no missiles into the Pentagon. The US government had ample warning this was going to occur. So did President Roosevelt just before Pearl Harbor. Both events got us into wars.

The events of that morning have cost this country billions upon billions of dollars in both reconstruction and defense spending for soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan,etc. 'They' beat us down that morning and continue to cause American deaths on a weekly basis in the war zones. The US government knows full well what countries were involved in a major way that morning and will never hold them accountable for very personal and political reasons.

Ten years after 9-11, Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan in the home he and his family had lived in for many years, protected by the Pakistani government. Pakistan continues to take millions of dollars of US aid with one hand, and stab us in the back with the other, with a smile on their face. The US government does nothing about this. In the meantime, Pakistan is cozying up to our enemies just in case we stop funding them in the future. They will not suffer a bit. They see the US going down the financial drain and they are jumping ship while they can.

This book answers just about every question that has been asked in the last 10 years. You may not like their answers but they back them up. Of course there are those of you who will say they were paid to write this and print what the US wants us to continue thinking really happened on 9-11. The authors can't win, can they? Regardless of what the real truth is, there are thousands of men, women and children who died that morning and countless thousands who were their families who will never be whole again. I cannot believe it has been ten years! It feels like it happened last week. It always will.
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on April 18, 2012
I just heard the thrilling news that this book was one of three nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in HISTORY. I'm delighted for the authors, who are well-deserving of this honor. I highly recommended this book long before this honor (see my guest review above) and for those who didn't read it before, perhaps this latest news will encourage you to do so. You won't be sorry.
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on April 14, 2012
This book is well worth the read and is a good balance to other material that has been written. It has some of the best sourcing anyone could ask for down to each paragraph's source being revealed. It does a good job at dispelling some of the more "out there" conspiracy theories and deserves high praise for mentioning the roles of first responders and their subsequent abysmal treatment by the government for their ailments.

It is, however, very lackluster of it handling of numerous complex subject, most notably building 7 which deserves a book all on its own. Given the bias of the authors' beliefs, the opinions supporting the official story are displayed prominently in the sections of the book dealing with it, while the other side, when not being criticized, is relegated to the fine print in the reference section.

On later subjects, Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, is declared a terrorist without any actual evidence presented, much like the White House did before having him assassinated. The assassination post-dates the book so understandably is not dealt with, but once again we see a case of a lack of scrutiny of the government's official story. The scrutiny is present in many other areas yet absent here.

The coverage of Bin Laden's death is superficial and lacking any significant analysis. It mainly blames journalists as "in a rush" to get the story out, while most media coverage of his death was, in fact, just a parroting of the White House spokespersons, who themselves contradicted themselves every 24 hours while presenting a story so full of holes tanks can be driven through it. Governments with the proven track record of lying deserve no benefit of the doubt on any official story they spin and once again the book provides scrutiny in other areas, yet inexplicably none here, all the while calling itself "the full story".

Overall, this book is a good addition to anyone's toolbox for the study of 9/11. It should, however, be viewed as only one of many tools in anyone's continuing research of the topic.
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on November 5, 2011
If you love non-fiction, with a ton of research this is for you. Not only is this an in depth reporting on the events leading up to 9/11, it is a no holds barred "pull back the curtain" expose. The reporting of the FBI agent that wanted his superiors to look into flight schools is truly the tip of the iceberg. Agency in-fighting, and turf wars prevented any chance of anyone putting the pieces of the puzzle together.
With cooperation, and the elimination of the CYA mentality, this would have never happened. Let me repeat that: This would have never happened.
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on August 20, 2013
I have been waiting over a decade for someone to write this book. The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 is a scientific and historical analysis of everything that went wrong on the day fewer than two dozen Islamic terrorists destroyed over two thousand American lives along with hundreds of hardworking immigrants. Nearly three dozen genuinely peaceful Muslims died in that attack, and I must point out that this number does not include the terrorists.

The book opens with the most accurate and well-documented timeline of events yet published. It follows this up with a blistering criticism of the many personal failures in our defense apparatus and the administration of Pres. George W. Bush. The FAA, the FBI, the CIA, and even the NSA are all brought before the docket and found lacking in both training and professionalism. Names are named, careers are ended, and the history of 9/11 is finally told in crystalline detail and exactitude with precise, verifiable, genuine sources. There is very little speculation and no hyperbole, making it a bit of a dry read, but facts are facts and in cases like this it is vital to get your facts straight before you start making accusations.

Genuinely scientific future historians will begin their research of the events of that tragic morning with this book. When the realistic movies and true to life documentaries are finally made and the speculative, mythologized accounts of insider involvement and black flag conspiracies finally die down, this book will be at the heart of the transition from internet myth into verified history.
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