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

September 10, 2010


If I started reading a book about 9/11 and a few pages into it found that an American General, a CEO of an international clothing conglomerate, several members of the board of a wealthy charity, an NYPD detective and parents of a firefighter who is lost in the World Trade Center were stuck in a small Canadian town in the middle of Newfoundland (not to mention a long-lost native son) I would have put the book away with a chuckle and started a new one.
Nevertheless, this is not fiction and the events really happen.
  • 244 page
  • Publisher : ReganBooks
  • Language : English
  • ISBN-10 : 0060559713


The Day the World Came to Town:” by Jim DeFede tells the non-fiction story of the 38 commercial flights, which have been diverted away from the United States due to closure of the airports, only to land the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, Canada. The passengers were forced to spend four days in the town before being allowed to go on their way, but those four days changed them forever.
The residents of Gander opened their homes, buildings and hearts to the stranded passengers and showed them hospitality which most of them have never encountered and struck up lifelong friendships. Those without luggage got clothed, business donated food and toiletries and meals were cooked for one and all.
Even though I really liked the book, and even recommended it to my beloved wife, there are several glaring omissions.

First and foremost for me: there is no map.
The author goes to great length to describe the geographical region as well as the Gander’s street layout (which is supposed to be shaped like the head of a moose) – yet…no map?
I find this to be unbelievable.

Second, the writing seems more like a collection of articles than a finished book. That’s fine and it didn’t bother me that much but I thought I should mention it.

Third, it would be nice to have appendices with a chart of the flights, departure, landings at Gander International Airport, etc.

Fourth, I would have liked to see more pictures. Again, this does not take away from the book but would have been a nice addition. There are several pictures in the book but they are small and grainy (much like…a newspaper article).

Fifth, where is the tourist info for Newfoundland? Come on guys, capitalize on this book. I’ve been to your area (but not Gander), it is a beautiful, gorgeous part of the world and true to the book – some of the nicest people in the world live there.

However, I still this book high marks because I did thoroughly enjoyed it since it is about the people of Newfoundland and not about the big events happening around them. The only part which took away my personal enjoyment was the first bullet point I mentioned (and yes, I did google the town and found the map but I still can’t “see” the moose head layout).

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


  • KayeSeptember 10, 2010 at 9:29 am

    A map would have made an excellent addition to the book. When I read a book that includes a map, I am a happy camper. It just makes the story much more interesting and if it's a place I've never been I like to see where the story is set. Excellent point!

  • BrennaSeptember 10, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    This sounds like the sort of non-fiction that is right up my alley. Thanks for the review.

  • Nikki-annSeptember 10, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    A timely review. I've never heard of this one before and didn't know about the planes being diverted there. Sounds interesting, thanks 🙂

  • aliceSeptember 14, 2015 at 1:14 am

    It’s the head of a duck…not a moose..and the town name is French for a male duck i think?

    • LindaApril 18, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      A gander is a male GOOSE not a duck.

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