“Through fiction we may gain insight into the conspirators and their methods which we cannot gain in any other way. By concentrating on the one human conspirator (human because he had a girlfriend), we can at least imagine how somebody from a good family could end up on that field in Shanksville.”
— Governor Thomas Kean
Chairman of the 9/11 Commission
About the Book
The product of ten years of research, writing, and imagining, the 19th Hijacker is the story of Sami Haddad, the terrorist pilot of Flight 93, as told through the eyes of his girlfriend, a beautiful and feisty woman of Turkish-German extraction, who had a fraught love affair with Sami and who has to bear the consequences after the 9/11 attacks. The idea for the book was suggested to Reston by the co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission, Lee Hamilton.
In a series of imagined tape recordings, recorded in the months before the attack and sent to Karima the night before he was to board the plane, Sami, deeply in conflict, describes his recruitment and tries to decide whether to go forward with the operation or to bail out and flee to safety with Karima. After 9/11 Karima finds herself in possession of critical evidence, and the German police, in the person of a frumpy investigator called Kommissar Recht, try to determine if Karima is part of the conspiracy herself and whether a second wave of attacks is imminent. Just as desperate for information are surviving members of Al Qaeda who know Karima has tape recordings that they regard as sacred artifacts of their heroic attack.. Karima is caught in a vice between these two, terrifying forces.
The 19th Hijacker is a thriller. Through Reston's dogged research, the book has a riveting sense of authenticity. In the words of novelist, Lucian Truscott IV, it is a "masterpiece."
About the Author
Reston is the author of 18 books, four plays, and numerous articles in national magazines. His last five historical works, Galileo: A Life, The Last Apocalypse, Warriors of God, Dogs of God, and Defenders of the Faith, have been translated into 13 foreign languages. Warriors of God is an international best seller with over a quarter of a million copies sold world-wide.
He has been a fellow at the American Academy in Rome, a scholar in residence at the Library of Congress, and is a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.
Born in New York in 1941, he was raised in Washington, D.C. and attended the University of North Carolina. In 1963-4 he was an assistant to U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Steward Udall, 1964-65. He was trained in the recruitment of foreign agents in the U.S. Army, 1965-68. Lecturer in Creative Writing, University of North Carolina, 1971-81. Newsweek, PBS, and BBC candidate to be the first writer on the NASA space shuttle.
"I've always thought a novelist's nightmare would be trying to deal with the terrorists who attacked America on 9/11. And what do you know, but James Reston Jr. did it! He imagined himself into the mind of "The 19th Hijacker" with such courage and writerly abandon, his book will leave you breathless. A masterpiece."
— Lucian Truscott IV, author of Dress Gray