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The Day The World Came To Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland [Paperback]

Jim Defede
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 7 2003

"For the better part of a week, nearly every man, woman, and child in Gander and the surrounding smaller towns stopped what they were doing so they could help. They placed their lives on hold for a group of strangers and asked for nothing in return. They affirmed the basic goodness of man at a time when it was easy to doubt such humanity still existed."

When thirty-eight jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, on September 11, 2001, due to the closing of United States airspace, the citizens of this small community were called upon to come to the aid of more than six thousand displaced travelers.

Roxanne and Clarke Loper were excited to be on their way home from a lengthy and exhausting trip to Kazakhstan, where they had adopted a daughter, when their plane suddenly changed course and they found themselves in Newfoundland. Hannah and Dennis O'Rourke, who had been on vacation in Ireland, were forced to receive updates by telephone on the search for their son Kevin, who was among the firefighters missing at the World Trade Center. George Vitale, a New York state trooper and head of the governor's security detail in New York City who was returning from a trip to Dublin, struggled to locate his sister Patty, who worked in the Twin Towers. A family of Russian immigrants, on their way to the Seattle area to begin a new life, dealt with the uncertainty of conditions in their future home.

The people of Gander were asked to aid and care for these distraught travelers, as well as for thousands more, and their response was truly extraordinary. Oz Fudge, the town constable, searched all over Gander for a flight-crew member so that he could give her a hug as a favor to her sister, a fellow law enforcement officer who managed to reach him by phone. Eithne Smith, an elementary-school teacher, helped the passengers staying at her school put together letters to family members all over the world, which she then faxed. Bonnie Harris, Vi Tucker, and Linda Humby, members of a local animal protection agency, crawled into the jets' cargo holds to feed and care for all of the animals on the flights. Hundreds of people put their names on a list to take passengers into their homes and give them a chance to get cleaned up and relax.

The Day the World Came to Town is a positively heartwarming account of the citizens of Gander and its surrounding communities and the unexpected guests who were welcomed with exemplary kindness.

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The Day The World Came To Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland + The Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)
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Product Description

From Amazon

The events of September 11 have seemingly been covered, analyzed, and discussed from every angle imaginable. So the subject matter alone of Jim DeFede's The Day the World Came to Town makes it noteworthy. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, 38 commercial airliners carrying over 6,000 passengers were forced, as a precautionary measure, to land in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada. Due to the ongoing closure of U.S. airspace, the passengers spent four days in this isolated town of 10,000 before being allowed to continue on their way. In that time, Gander's residents rallied together to extend a kind of hospitality that seems too expansive for the word hospitality. Townspeople not only opened schools and legion halls for use as emergency shelters, they invited the passengers into their homes for showers, meals, and warm beds while local businesses simply gave toiletries and clothing to passengers stuck without luggage. Despite the grim consequences that led to the situation, DeFede finds humor: two flight attendants are offered a car for sightseeing by a local woman who happened to be driving by; the stranded chairman of Hugo Boss finds himself shopping for men's underwear at the local Wal-Mart. But the real message of the book is how, even in times of great turmoil and conflict, people can and must look to one another for comfort, help, and hope. --John Moe --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Journalist Defede calls our attention to a sidelight of the events of September 11, when the town of Gander (pop. 10,000) was overwhelmed by more than 6,500 air travelers grounded when U.S. airspace was shut down. For a week, DeFede relates, the locals provided food, shelter and supplies and reassurance; "they placed their lives on hold for a group of strangers and asked nothing in return." Here the generous Newfoundlanders get due recognition. Photos. (Sept.)
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes me want to be a 'Newfie' Sept. 17 2002
It's hard to believe that anything written about the events of September 11, 2001, could be described as 'wonderful' but Miami Herald columnist Jim DeFede has penned a book that is all that and more.
'The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland' describes what happened when more than 250 aircraft, prohibited from entering U.S. airspace due to the terrorist attacks, were diverted to Canadian airports. Of those, 38 planes bearing 6,595 passengers landed in Gander, Newfoundland, a town with a population of barely 10,000. What happened next goes a very long way to restore the faith in humanity that was shaken by the terrorists. Without exception, the residents of Gander (They call themselves 'Newfies') opened their doors to welcome the unexpected refugees and poured out such warmth and compassion that one passenger later remarked, "I was on a flight from London to New York and landed in Heaven."
Schools were closed to provide space for shelters. Residents took the sheets and blankets off their own beds to deliver to the passengers and stayed up all night to feed and welcome then when they finally were able to get off the planes. Locals approached 'plane people' in the street and invited them into their homes to shower. Pharmacists made thousands of calls worldwide to verify prescriptions and then filled them for free. Shop owners gave away their stock to those in need and, when they ran out, bought more from the competition and gave that away as well. The events described in this book will make you either proud to be a Canadian or regretful that you aren't.
DeFede skillfully blends the tragic and the comic. One moment Gander's residents are compassionately providing around-the-clock care and companionship to the mother of a missing New York firefighter.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EVERYONE should read this book Dec 24 2007
By Erilyn
With all the horrors that took place on September 11th, this book shows the good that took place as well. Some parts are even laugh-out-loud funny - I drew several strange looks from my husband whenever I chuckled - who knew one could be reading a book about 9/11 and laughing? I grew up in Newfoundland myself and know first hand the kind of people who live there. Newfies are a shining example to the rest of the world how one does not need materialistic wealth in order to be generous - just a kind and loving heart. This is a truly amazing story that everyone should read, if only to be reminded of the goodness that people are capable of in even the darkest hours.

Now I wish Defede would write a sequel - since it has been five years since this book was published, I'd like to know how everyone is doing now!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brought me back June 19 2004
By Mick
Having only recently been given this book it brought back to me those few days I spent in a remote but truly wonderful town. I was on American Airlines flight 101 from Heathrow to JFK and was diverted to Gander that morning. To say I met some of the most amazing people ever would be an understatement. My friend and I were looked after so well. A woman took us to her home so I could call my parents, another took us to her home to shower. Those I remember most fondly are Doug Brittain & his wife who took us into their home to sleep. Amazing people.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another definition of community and grace June 15 2004
I just finished reading _Plainsong_ and told my wife how I enjoyed this story of community and grace. Then my wife recommended _The Day the World Came to Town_ as another non-fictional demonstration of the same themes. I started it and couldn't quit reading it ... finished it in less than 24 hours.
This is a great and reassuring story how a group of people reach out and embrace others in a time of need. While I love reading, I don't find myself often emotionally touched by books ... DeFede succeeded in finding the right words, images and stories that touched my emotions time and time again.
There is another book that I would recommend as well. It's a similar story of how a community reaches out to those affected by world events and provides a touch of humanity when it's needed. Bob Greene's _Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen_ tells about how North Platte NE (and surrounding towns) greeted WWII servicemen and servicewomen on their journeys across America. The shift in time and story is an interesting counterpoint to a common theme in both books: how people reach out in times of uncertainty and pain to make strangers' lives a bit more comfortable and how grace is defined in human terms.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A light during a time of darkness. When a small town opened its doors and its heart to the passengers stranded when the United States closed its airspace. During a time of utter uncertainty, the residents of Gander, Newfoundland were giving tours, cooking, providing warm essence, the people of Gander were treating complete strangers as family. Friendships were made and the makings of a great story were formed. Jim Defede did an excellent job capturing the soul of Gander in this book and as a passenger that was stranded...I can say that in a time of extreme uncertainty...Gander rose up and made us all proud to be Canada's neighbor. Read this book. We could all learn a valuable lesson from it. During a time of "good vs. evil", Gander fought the silent fight and made 'good' the victor.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
An awesome read and an example for us to follow.
Published 27 days ago by Allan Young
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
I sobbed all thru the story. Goes to show you, there are more good people in this world than the ugly ones that want to kill
Published 1 month ago by susan Charles
5.0 out of 5 stars this should be required reading
Anyone who wants to know who and what Newfoundlanders are really made of needs to read this book.
All others must read this book to understand what real people act like so... Read more
Published 4 months ago by carman bibby
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
I bought this book for my husband. He read it and loved it so I read it too. It gives a great insight into what a small community faced having hundreds of people descend on their... Read more
Published 5 months ago by C. Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Comments
The book was excellent and well written. It was nice to read some of the personal stories of the people who were stranded and of those who helped them through a trying time. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jackie
4.0 out of 5 stars Great story
After reading other reviews my expectations were high, and the book possibly didn't quite meet those expectations, but it was still a great read. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Stewme
3.0 out of 5 stars book
a book about the planes diverted to Newfoundland after 9/11. I did not find this a well written book, and am not sure it was as factual as it lead one to believe. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mary Jane Amirault
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!
This is a well-written book, giving much insight into the history of Gander, Nflnd as a refueling stop for aircraft.
Published 11 months ago by Mary
3.0 out of 5 stars Good story...
No doubt about it, the people of Gander, and surrounding areas areas, are amazing but this book is poorly written. Read it anyway.
Published 12 months ago by Valerie Burden
5.0 out of 5 stars The Day the World Came to Town - a wonderful book
The Day the World Came to Town was a really feel-good book. It was an account of how the people who landed in Newfoundland on 9/11 when the US closed its airspace fared for the... Read more
Published 12 months ago by andyp
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