Thursday, September 11, 2008

Touching History, by Lynn Spencer

I have talked about Lynn's book before on this blog and I have included references to it in Lynn's bio on Girls With Wings. I only recently finished reading the book, full title, Touching History: The Untold Story of the Drama that Unfolded in the Skies over America on 9/11, recently, and I am so completely impressed with Lynn's work.

I am not doing Lynn a favor by writing a complimentary review of her book just because she's a great supporter of GWW. This is a phenomenal book and I recommend it without reservation. The description of it on her website is as follows:

Finally . . . the complete story. Simon & Schuster presents the gripping, inspiring minute-by-minute account of the heroic battle in the skies on 9/11.

The story of the astonishing drama that played out in the skies and in the military installations and air traffic control towers on 9/11 has never before been pieced together and portrayed in a vivid moment-to-moment drama.

In this riveting book, commercial pilot Lynn Spencer brilliantly brings that drama to pulse-quickening life. She went on a quest to interview the vast number of people caught on the front lines in an unprecedented air war in which thousands of commercial pilots with flights in the air, air traffic controllers, military commanders, and jet fighter pilots snapped into stirring action.

Calling on their exceptional preparedness and unflinching readiness to put their lives on the line, they improvised a defense against a shocking threat the nature and extent of which they could have no comprehension as the events unfolded.
Her sources include hundreds of key players, from Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers to the FAA's command chief, to the general in command of air defense for the United States, the controllers who tracked the hijacked flights, and the fighter pilot, who, with no weapons loaded on his jet, unquestioningly accepted an order to take down United 93 with his own plane.

Lynn Spencer has crafted a powerful and vital account of the unknown story of the pivotal day in American life.

I would like to second all of that. I do not feel that anyone could have written fiction as interesting as this true life book was to read. I was absolutely drawn in to the story and hated to put it down. From page 1, I was engrossed. I am embarrased to say that as a professional pilot, and as an Army National Guard officer on 9/11, I had no idea of all that was involved behind the scenes in the first hours after the hijackings and those days that followed in the aviation arena. Most coverage of the events covered the treatment of the injured, the reclamation of the dead, and the damage to the buildings and actions of the emergency personnel on the ground.

This book covers a short period of time in amazing detail, discussing the actions of airport employees, air traffic controllers, other civilian and military pilots, and the governmental organizations involved in getting planes down safely wherever they could. Lynn has interviewed those directly involved in the events, and their quotes and actions are described in the book in terms that the non-aviation enthusiast can understand.
She describes what it took to get our troops mobilized and military planes up into the skies to protect our nation from potential further attack. The book highlights weakenesses in our national defense and aviation procedures, most notably the communication infrastructure, but that what needed to be done happened because of people's dedication to accomplishing the mission.

I am so impressed with the research that I knew Lynn was doing, but she went far beyond what I would have thought possible. If one had the ability to be in numerous places at once so to have a thorough understanding of such a tragedy, Lynn was the one to give us a close approximation.

It is sad to think that it took a monstrous terrorist act to bring our country together and to give ourselves the opportunity to prove what we could do when we all work together. I hope the lessons of 9/11 will remain with us for many years to come.

In closing, I do have a limited number of copies of this book available. They will be distributed first come first serve - free of charge - to Girls With Wings crewmembers that order from our online store. You must identify yourself as a crewmember upon checkout to receive the book in your shipment.

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