Touching History

  • by Lynn Spencer
  • Narrated by Joyce Bean
  • 9 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Touching History is told through the eyes of commercial airline pilots, FAA and military controllers, jet fighters, and key military personnel at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and its subunit, the Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS). Personnel at the national FAA Command Center, also had to grapple with the bizarre and unprecedented nature of the attacks.In a round-robin narrative, in the style of Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn's 102 Minutes, Lynn Spencer takes listeners right to the front lines as the realization hits that multiple hijackings are underway - and then that the country is under attack.Spencer follows the story all the way through the end of the day, when the fog of war had finally lifted and the country could assess exactly what had happened. The drama unfolds from a variety of perspectives, including the computer screen of the comptroller who first noticed that American flight 11 was off course; the phone call from a stewardess onboard alerting American Airlines that hijackers had killed two flight attendants and entered the cockpit; the battle cab of the military commander who ordered fighter jets in the air; the NASA-like operations floor of the FAA Command Center; and the cockpits of a number of the 4,500 commercial airliners flying over the United States that morning.Spencer conducted hundreds of interviews and spoke to every key player in the airline industry and military who was involved in the major air events of the day. Based on highly detailed accounts from these interviews, as well as on the voluminous records of radio transmissions, Spencer fills in many holes in the story as it was reported by the 9/11 Commission. She also brings to pulse-quickening life the confusion, the horror, and the fierce determination and quick thinking of so many key players as they improvised their responses to a shocking new type of warfare.

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What the Critics Say

"Spencer...expertly elucidates the complexities and pitfalls of American aviation as it faced a staggering challenge." (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Try "Voices of 9/11" Instead

I really should've listened to the sample before spending a whole credit on this, but I was on a sniffly, cry-into-a-tissue, 9/11 kick and bought this. I'm giving this a 3-star rating simply out of respect for the victims, the first responders, and all the families, and hell, for all of us, 'cause that was a god-awful day/time and we deserve it.
The audiobook, however, doesn't. In the first place, while narrator Joyce Bean is trying her hardest, is in no way slacking off, she's doing what should be a man's job. Most of the voices are those of men, and she just can't hit the register necessary. While she doesn't get growly, she gets... stern and dry-sounding. Very odd.
Second, this is all just a really, really, really drawn out version of what happened. I STRONGLY suggest that, if you want to know what happened in those air traffic control towers, if you want to hear NORAD declare, "This is Real World," check out "Voices of 9/11." It's here on Audible, and it's free.
And, my God, it'll knock your socks off. Not quite two hours, and I cried like a baby for days...
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- Gillian

Very Insightful - Puts the reader in the cockpit

Would you listen to Touching History again? Why?

Yes, I already have. It's just a gripping story that it's worth revisiting.


Who was your favorite character and why?

The airline pilots.


Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

As a former USAF navigator I was impressed by the way the National Guard F-16 detachment at Langley AFB threw away the rule book and pressed on with the mission.

I was also impressed in a negative way about how useless the high levels of the Federal Government were. Apparently all the senior cabinet officials and military officers could do is join conference calls, chat with each other, and run around in circles.

All the key decisions were made by low level worker bees out in the field.

The only real guidance from the top came from Vice President Cheney, who authorized the military to shoot down a civilian airliner that was being hijacked.

Other than that the government's senior officials were useless.


Any additional comments?

This book desperately needed to be written. It is the story of how the aviation community reacted to the 9/11 attacks from the point of view of the pilots, dispatchers, controllers, and military officers.

The author is a professional pilot and it shows in the details. She does a good job of explaining the jargon and tools used within aviation in an easy to understand way for the lay reader.

I thought the narrator did a fine job.

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- Jim In Texas!

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-02-2008
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio