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September 11, 2001: Attack on New York City


"Hampton writes with precision, grace and a frightening intensity as he traces the story of 9/11 … There are many, perhaps too many, books about 9/11 written for young people, but this is one of the best."


"Riveting … strong and occasionally rawly emotional reporting."
Publisher’s Weekly

"Without sentimentalizing or sensationalizing, Hampton connects all these stories into a cohesive narrative …"
Horn Book Magazine


–Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbon Winner
–American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults
–New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age


The morning of September 11, 2001, dawned bright and clear in New York City. There had been a steady, soggy rain the night before but the sunrise that Tuesday brought a brilliant blue sky without a cloud in sight. It was the sort of late summer day that makes you think of baseball more than football, of picnics more than hayrides, or ice cream more than apple pie. It was a day that made you just glad to be alive.

Then, shortly before 9:00 A.M., just as most New Yorkers were beginning their working day, the city was suddenly and deliberately attacked by hijackers who seized control of two jetliners bound from Boston to Los Angeles and flew them on kamikaze missions into the twin 110-story towers of the World Trade Center. At 8:46 A.M., American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767, flew into the North Tower. At 9:06 A.M., United Airlines Flight 175, another Boeing 767, flew into the South Tower. The planes exploded in fireballs that sent clouds of smoke pouring from the skyscrapers.

In the space of those few minutes, the comfortable world most Americans thought they lived in changed forever. But the horrors of the day were only beginning.

At 9:40 A.M., a third hijacked plane, American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757, en route from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles, crashed into the Pentagon, the headquarters of America’s defense department.

Then, only minutes later, the thing many people had feared, but had tried not to think about, happened. The South Tower, the one into which the second plane crashed, began to collapse. It came down like a tower of dominoes when someone removes one domino from the middle.

Concern immediately grew for its twin, the building that had been hit first. Less than half an hour later, the North Tower tumbled to earth in a mountain of molten rubble. Fires from the 10,000 gallons of fuel that each plane carried raged up to 2,000 degrees, softening the steel girders. The two buildings simply imploded. Steel, concrete, and glass rained from 110 stories in the sky onto city streets jammed with thousands of frightened people, turning lower Manhattan into a black inferno. … Within an hour, the ruins were being called Ground Zero.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed at the World Trade Center, and more than 3,200 children lost a parent. But numbers can’t tell the story. The story of what happened in New York that day is told in the accounts of several people who lived through it. Each endured a personal nightmare that day. Each carries different memories. One thing they all remember is how quiet the city was.