The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden

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9781400066599: The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden
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FINALIST FOR THE PULITZER PRIZE

Writing with access to thousands of recently released official documents, fresh interviews, and the perspective that can come only from a decade of research and reflection, Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan deliver the first panoramic, authoritative look back at 9/11.

For most living Americans, September 11, 2001, is the darkest date in the nation’s history. What exactly happened? Could it have been prevented? How and why did so much acrimony and bad information arise from the ashes of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a quiet field in Pennsylvania? And what remains unresolved? What is certain: Discord and dissent continue to this day.

Beginning with the first brutal actions of the hijackers aboard American Airlines Flight 11, The Eleventh Day tracks the precise sequence of events and introduces the players: pilots, terrorists, the airliners’ passengers, and the innocents who died on the ground. Drawing on previously classified records and raw transcripts, Summers and Swan investigate the response of President Bush and the U.S. military that day, and the failure to intercept the hijacked airliners. They document the untruths told afterward by U.S. officials and, as a counterpoint, thoroughly consider the contentions of the “9/11 truth” movement. With meticulous research, they examine the personalities of the men behind the onslaught, analyze the motives that drove them, and expose the U.S. intelligence blunders that preceded the attacks. They note how afterward—without good evidence—the Bush administration persisted in trying to link  9/11 to Iraq. And they confront, finally, the question the 9/11 Commission’s report blurred: Were the terrorists backed by powerful figures in another foreign nation—one the U.S. had long viewed as a friend?

Riveting, revelatory, and unforgettable, thoroughly sourced and complete with extensive endnotes, The Eleventh Day is the essential one-volume work on a pivotal event in our history.

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Review:

Guest Reviewer: Jean Sasson on The Eleventh Day

Jean Sasson is an American writer and humanitarian whose work centers on women in the Middle East and the injustices that they suffer at the hands of patriarchal societies. Jean's published works are The Rape of Kuwait, Princess, Princess Sultana's Daughters, Princess Sultana's Circle, Ester's Child, Mayada, Daughter of Iraq, Love in a Torn Land, Growing Up bin Laden, and For the Love of a Son. Jean Sasson's 10th book, American Chick in Arabia, is currently being written. The passage of time and recent accessibility of government papers have been put to good use by veteran reporters Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan. Together they have written the definitive book on 9/11.

The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama Bin Laden turns back the clock, taking us to a black day filled with blue skies. A day that began so normally became a day that no one can forget, a day that ended with countless questions, many of which have remained unanswered, until now. The Eleventh Day provides the answers to the questions we have been seeking since that fateful day, now ten long years ago.

From the first page, The Eleventh Day rekindles many memories. The horrifying sights of American Airlines flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 crashing into the twin towers and the American Airlines Flight 77 disappearing into the bowels of the Pentagon were such extraordinary phenomena that that few of us could believe what we were seeing. While we understood that a powerful enemy was near, we did not know its face.

Witnesses to the events were hit by one shock after another, from the collapse of the towers to the attack upon the Pentagon to the shattering end of United Flight 93. By the time that last planeload of innocent passengers disappeared forever into the soil near to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the national tally of loss was staggering.

What new horror would come next? Innocent victims lay dead, unaware of why they had died; family members of victims were stunned by grief; Americans in every city and town were gripped with white anger.

Little did we know that our representatives in the White House had received ample warnings. But now we know, for The Eleventh Day is like a carefully crafted map. Summers and Swan have drawn this map after poring through endless documents, interviewing countless witnesses, and researching the movements of the 19 attackers, bringing the facts together as never before.

For months, opportunities were missed at every turn. Before the inauguration of President Bush, The Commission on National Security was ready to issue their final report which concluded that an attack “on American soil” was likely in the not-too-distant future. The Commission members requested a meeting with the incoming president and vice-president (Bush and Cheney) before the inauguration. Shockingly, the commission members never got their meeting, not then, and not later. No one ever called them back.

We also learn that Clinton’s Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations, Brian Sheridan, personally warned National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice that al-Qaeda was “not an amateur-type deal...It’s serious stuff, these guys are not going away.” Amazingly enough, Sheridan reports that Rice listened but asked no questions. Sheridan recalls that he offered to brief the incoming officials on al-Qaeda, but no one in the new administrator took him up on the offer.

The authors tell us that the governments of Israel, France and Egypt issued warnings of an upcoming al-Qaeda attack in the United States. All were ignored.

As time passed, several more opportunities were missed. Only a few days before 9/11, suspicions from instructors at the Pan Am International Flight Academy in Minneapolis over new student Zacarias Moussaouri prompted the manager to alert the local FBI. Moussaouri’s leading questions about the “damage an airliner could cause if it collided with something” had aroused concerns. The local FBI official reacted quickly and Moussaouri was detained on grounds of an expired visa. Although the lead agent sent 70 messages to the head office for approval for search warrants, he was blocked at every turn. Only after 9/11 was it discovered that Moussaouri was part of a team to ram airplanes into buildings.

And this is only one example of many that Summers and Swan bring to light in this book. Did the American government fail the American people? Tragically and sadly, the answer is: yes.

The publisher’s book jacket says that: “The Eleventh Day is the essential one-volume work on a pivotal event in our history.”

I couldn’t have said it better.

About the Author:

Anthony Summers is the award-winning author of seven bestselling nonfiction books. Originally a journalist, he covered events in the United States and the conflicts in Vietnam and the Middle East for the BBC’s flagship current affairs program.
 
Robbyn Swan, his co-author and wife, has partnered with Summers on three previous books—including biographies of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and President Richard Nixon. They have been consultants on documentaries for PBS, the History Channel, CNN, and the BBC.

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