Essential Reads and Resources



In observance of National Library Lovers Month, the Pentagon Memorial Fund invites you to join us in a thoughtful remembrance of September 11, 2001, through a curated selection of books. These works delve into the themes of heroism, resilience, and the indomitable human spirit, offering insights into one of the darkest days in American history and its aftermath. Below is a list of must-reads that bring to light various perspectives of the events surrounding 9/11, from personal accounts within the Pentagon to the global response to this tragedy.


Featured Books:


Then Came the Fire by Stephen Lofgren

This book, prepared for the tenth anniversary of the attacks, is an important compilation of personal recountings of the Pentagon on 11 September that will serve to remind future generations of the tragedy and the acts of valor on that day.


Firefight: Inside the Battle to Save the Pentagon on 9/11 by Patrick Creed

Patrick Creed and Rick Newman take us step-by-step through the harrowing minutes, hours, and days following the crash of American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon’s western façade. Providing fascinating personal stories of the firefighters and rescuers, a broader view of how the U.S. national security command structure was held intact, and a sixteen-page insert of dramatic photographs, Firefight is a unique testament to the fortitude and resilience of America.


Pentagon 9/11 by Alfred Goldberg et al.

Pentagon 9/11 Contains the most comprehensive account to date of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon and the aftermath, including unprecedented details of the impact on the Pentagon building and personnel and the scope of the rescue, recovery, and care giving effort. Evocative narratives are based on firsthand accounts of survival, tragedy, and heroism drawn from hundreds of interviews, with 32 pages of previously unpublished photographs, diagrams and illustrations.


American Phoenix: Heroes of the Pentagon on 9/11 by Lincoln M. Starnes

Meticulously researched and told with respect and reverence, American Phoenix sheds light on the remarkable individuals and events of that day, revealing stories never before told. Starting from the date the builders of the Pentagon broke ground on September 11, 1941, and culminating in the national Pentagon Memorial dedication in 2008, this is a tribute to those who sacrificed everything so that others might live.


The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff

The Only Plane in the Sky weaves together the unforgettable personal experiences of the men and women who found themselves caught at the center of an unprecedented human drama. The result is a unique, profound, and searing exploration of humanity on a day that changed the course of history, and all of our lives.


Touching History by Lynn Spencer

From the shocking moment that American Flight 11 fails to respond to a controller’s call to the announcement that the last commercial flight has safely landed and military jets rule the skies, Touching History is a powerful and deeply moving nonfiction thriller that is a vital addition to the country’s understanding of a day that changed our nation.


The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim Defede

A heartwarming account that illuminates the extraordinary compassion and community spirit of the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. As the world reeled from the horrors of that day, Gander’s residents opened their homes and hearts to nearly 7,000 stranded passengers from diverted flights, embodying unparalleled hospitality. Defede masterfully recounts the stories of connection and kindness between Gander’s people and the “plane people,” showcasing how, in times of profound crisis, humanity’s best qualities can shine through the darkness. This narrative stands as a poignant reminder of the power of compassion and the indomitable spirit of community in facing global tragedies.



Each book on our list offers a unique lens through which to view and understand the events of 9/11, celebrating the courage, compassion, and community that emerged in response. As we commemorate National Library Lovers Month, let us delve into these narratives to honor the memory of those we lost and the resilient spirit of those who rose in response.


We encourage our community to share reflections, stories, or other recommended reads on 9/11. Join the conversation to keep the memories and lessons of that day alive in our hearts and minds. #NeverForget