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The Day the World Came to Town, Jim Defede, Regan Books, 2002, 244 pp
The book is poorly written and quickly became boring to me, but I did learn some things I did not know before. The reading group who chose the book mostly felt the same way and our discussion lasted about twenty minutes before it devolved into the usual these days: a discussion of our new President and how he is doing.
But the book: On 9/11 right after the Twin Towers were hit, the United States closed its airspace. You may remember. I forgot that part. All aircraft headed for the US from other countries were forced either to turn back or land elsewhere. Thirty-eight jetliners were ordered to land in Gander, Newfoundland, requiring that small town of 10,000 people to play a Red Cross role for over 6000 travelers plus flight crew members. The book tells this story.
According to Jim Defede, it all came off without a hitch, there was no violence or unpleasantness, all the townspeople and local businesses pitched in to shelter, feed, entertain and even provide medical assistance where needed. This went on for six days.
If one can believe all this it is heartwarming in these these times of closed borders, burgeoning numbers of refugees, etc, etc. It was nice to contemplate that the world is made up of mostly nice people. The author chose to follow the stories of a select number of stranded passengers. You feel their individual troubles and anxieties but not enough to upset the reader too much.
Of course, I wondered how my small town of approximately 20,000 on the edge of Los Angeles would react in such a situation. Would we be that generous and that friendly? Hm.
(The Day the World Came to Town is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)