Cover image for Among the heroes : United Flight 93 and the passengers and crew who fought back
Among the heroes : United Flight 93 and the passengers and crew who fought back
Longman, Jere.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, 2002.
Physical Description:
xiv, 288 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV6432 .L65 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



On the evening of September 14, as the sun set over the flag-draped county courthouse in Somerset, Pennsylvania, fifteen hundred mourners gathered together as Governor Tom Ridge presided over a memorial to the passengers and crew of United Flight 93. In the hushed twilight, amid the toiling of bells, a candle was lit for each victim, and the flames were used to light smaller candles held by townspeople attending the service.

The hijackers had failed in their mission, Ridge said. They had not destroyed our spirit. They had rekindled it. By fighting back against the terrorists, the passengers and crew had undoubtedly saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives. "They sacrificed themselves for others -- the ultimate sacrifice. What appears to be a charred, smolerdering hole in the ground," said the governor, "is truly and really a monument to heroism."

Of the four horrific hijackings on September 11, Flight 93, which crashed into a field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, resonates as one of epic resistance. A number of passengers phoned relatives and others on the ground to tell them of the hijacking and what they planned to do about it. Their battle to take back the plane brought consolation to countless confused and grief-stricken Americans. At a time when the United States appeared defenseless against an unfamiliar foe, the gallant passengers and crew of Flight 93 provided for many Americans a measure of victory in the midst of unthinkable defeat. Together, they seemingly accomplished what all the security guards and soldiers, military pilots and government officials, could not -- they thwarted the terrorists, sacrificing their own lives so that others might live.

The culmination of hundreds of interviews and months of investigation, Among the Heroes is the definitive story of the courageous men and women aboard Flight 93, and of the day that forever changed the way Americans view the world and themselves.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Three new books are outstanding in relating personal stories of September 11. Fink is a print and TV journalist, and his wife, Lois Mathias, is an environmental activist and child advocate. Their book gathers first-person narratives by individuals whose lives were intimately impacted by the events of that day. From a construction inspector at the World Trade Center to a musician who lived in an apartment close by and witnessed the horrendous damage done by the first plane; from a young man and woman who escaped from their Lower Manhattan apartment and ferried to Staten Island, only to be subjected to a humiliating shower in public by hospital personnel, to the mother of a man on the hijacked flight that went down in Pennsylvania--all have their poignant, difficult stories to tell, which are neither easy to put down nor easy to keep reading. That flight, the one that crashed in Pennsylvania, presumably on its way to devastate either the White House or the Capitol, is the subject of a riveting account by Longman, a reporter for the New York Times. In his words, the passengers of United Flight 93 "thwarted" the terrorists; it is clear to him that the "passengers and crew acted with heroic defiance." Longman spoke with all the affected families except one. His account of the "brave uprising [that] will surely be remembered as a defining moment in American history" gives us an incredibly detailed and personal tale of that horrific episode, during which ordinary citizens proved their mettle and altered their fate. Murphy's book is another oral history but is in no way redundant. He, too, is a New York Times reporter, and his collection of approximately 40 survivor stories is underscored by the idea that when September 11 "was all over, it was a day of national calamity. But it was also a day of individual human heartache." The personal accounts he compiles here serve to support that sentiment to the fullest. One can't find a more eloquent explanation of the situation at the World Trade Center than the words spoken by the woman who was master of the keys at the Center: "I wasn't burnt or severely bruised. My pain was somewhere else--and it still is. Inside my heart, it hurts so bad." And only the most inured readers will not react with tears to the story of the sight-impaired man being carefully led down the stairs from high in the Center by his devoted seeing-eye dog. --Brad Hooper

Library Journal Review

New York Times reporter Longman, who covered the story of Flight 93, helps us relive the heroism and the terror of its final moments. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-Two different yet effective treatments. The quality of the writing and the book's scope make Blue perhaps the best of the 9/11 anniversary volumes. Bernstein focuses on the World Trade Center attacks without slighting the disasters at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. His comprehensive view makes the connection between the Islamic fundamentalist hijackers in Pakistan in 1979 and enrollees in Florida flight schools in 2000 and 2001. Firsthand accounts of survivors' escapes from the WTC along with the self-sacrificing courage of others they witnessed mix with sketches of extraordinary lives violently cut short. Such sketches also fill Heroes, a virtual obituary/memorial to the 40 people who died attempting to thwart the actions of four hijackers. Eerily, Longman tells how some passengers opted for the flight at the last minute. His hundreds of interviews allow for both fact and speculation regarding the plane's eventual disintegration into a Pennsylvania field. Both books include photographs of the tragedies and the people involved, relate the last conversations of victims via cell or air phones, and are graphic in parts, all of which make them difficult to get through-but that's precisely why they should be read.-Dori DeSpain, Fairfax County Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



The sky on September 11 dawned cerulean blue, one of those unblemished skies that often appeared in late summer after heavy rains or hurricanes - rinsed, cloudless, apparently cleansed of tumult. It was a week past Labor Day. The U.S. Open tennis tournament had just concluded, school was back in session, football season had begun, baseball had entered its stretch run. Casual fashion had faded to basic black. Autumn had arrived in the New York area, if not by calendar's decree, then by the urgent feel of resumption. Summer had been shaken away like sand from a beach towel. Dressed in his navy blue uniform, the four gold stripes on the sleeves denoting his rank as captain, Jason Dahl entered United Airlines' flight operations center in a secure area of Terminal A at Newark International Airport. It was approximately seven a.m. on this Tuesday. Check-in occurred an hour before each domestic flight. The previous day, Jason had traveled to Newark from his home in the Denver suburb of Littleton, Colorado. He would pilot Flight 93 to San Francisco, having traded a trip later in the month for this one. This was a long-awaited week. Jason would stop by and see his mother in San Jose, California, during his layover. In two days, he would return home to begin his plans for the weekend. This would be the fifth wedding anniversary for Jason and his wife, Sandy. It was the second marriage for both, and Jason liked to do things in a big way. He had proposed to her on a cruise ship, hiring a plane to fly over with a banner that read SANDY, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, WILL YOU MARRY ME? For their honeymoon, he told Sandy to pack for another cruise. They ended up in Tahiti. When he called on Monday night from Newark, Jason told Sandy that he had bought her a new Volvo. There would be more gifts. When it came to birthdays and anniversaries, Jason possessed the flamboyance of Monty Hall introducing a showcase on Let's Make a Deal . He and a family friend, Jewel Wellborn, had arranged for Sandy to receive a manicure, pedicure, facial and a massage on Friday afternoon. While she was distracted in her bedroom, deliverymen would arrive with a baby grand piano programmed with Jason and Sandy's wedding song. That night, Jason would cook a gourmet meal. On Saturday, he and Sandy would fly to London to celebrate their anniversary. "He was so thrilled, planning every intricate detail of surprise," Wellborn said. In the United operations center, Jason signed onto a computer, verified his schedule, checked to see if there were any changes. From service representatives working in an open-window area, he received several printouts generated from company headquarters in Chicago. The paperwork told him of the general condition of the aircraft, whether there was a reading light out in first class, or a coffee maker on the blink in the rear galley. It gave him an update of maintenance service on the plane, a review of the weather, a manifest of the flight attendants, passenger load, an extensive flight plan, a reading of fuel levels, possible turbulence, runway data and estimated waiting times. Flight 93 was scheduled to depart one minute after eight, but anyone who flew out of Newark regularly knew to expect delays. Planes could stack up like balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Given Newark's clogged taxiways and the crowded airspace above the three major airports in the New York City area, sometimes it seemed there was as much gridlock in the skies above Newark, LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports as there was on the streets below. After reviewing the paperwork, Jason signed a release for the plane, placing it in his control. Next to his name, he wrote "C-3," indicating that he was certified to perform landings in as little as three hundred feet visibility, the highest qualification that United offered. In the operations center, Jason met LeRoy Homer Jr., the first officer on Flight 93. The two had never flown together, but they had one thing in common: they caught the flying bug early and this was the only job they ever really wanted. Upon completing his paperwork, Captain Dahl boarded the plane and began his pre-flight checklist. This was performed in a precise order known as a flow, moving up one row of switches and gauges and down another. He did an overall check of the cockpit, making sure that life vests, fire ax and fire extinguisher were in place and in working order. If the plane was "cold," all systems still shut down before the early-morning flight, he brought the jetliner humming to life through an external power source or an onboard auxiliary power unit. From his seat, he reached up and flipped the switch on three laser gyroscopes. He checked the electrical system, the fuel system, the navigational system, the communications system. He ensured that the flight-data recorder and cockpit voice-recorder were functioning properly. He examined the engine instrument indicators, the fire detection system, the hydraulic system, the anti-skid brakes, the cabin-pressurization system. He programmed into the computerized flight management system his current position, his routing and his destination. Later, the first officer would double-check that the proper positioning and routing had been entered into the computer. The 757 had a "glass cockpit," meaning that computer screens had reduced the number of dials found on older planes. The jet, manufactured by Boeing and fitted with two megaphone-shaped engines that protruded from beneath the wings, weighed a maximum of two hundred fifty-five thousand pounds, or one hundred twenty-seven tons, as much as a diesel locomotive. It was one hundred fifty-five feet three inches long and had a wingspan of one hundred twenty-four feet ten inches. The surface area of the wings was equivalent to the floor space of a three-bedroom house. This particular jet, delivered to United in 1996 and registered as N591UA, was known as a 757-200. (Continues...) Excerpted from Among the Heroes by Jere Longman Copyright © 2003 by Jere Longman Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.