September 11 remembered as Hampstead & Highgate Literary Festival begins

Newsnight’s Gavin Esler will chair exciting and free-ranging discussion of the aftermath and repercussions of the 9/11 attacks at the Hampstead and Highgate Literary Festival this Sunday – on the 10th anniversary of the word-changing events.

Esler will be joined by former senior military intelligence officer Frank Ledwidge who has written Losing Small Wars: British Military Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, and John Freeman the editor of Granta.

Mr Esler, from Tufnell Park, became the BBC’s Washington correspondent in 1989 before becoming the anchor for BBC News 24, reporting from all over the world.

He said: “I was getting ready for work and I turned on the radio and heard that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Centre.

“When I was Washington correspondent I had been called and told that a plane had crashed into the White House and it turned out to be a crazy person in one of those tiny one-person planes – so I thought ‘oh no a nutter has crashed his little plane’. It was only a later when I turned on the television and saw the first plane in the tower that I realised how serious it was.”

Mr Esler was then called in to do emergency bulletins for BBC1 and BBC News 24 and was put on the first flight allowed to depart for the US. “Ninety seven per cent of Americans,” he added, “according to a PEW research poll, remember exactly where they were on 9/11. It has changed every facet of our lives over the last 10 years.”

The hour-long event, called 9/11 – Ten Years On, is on Sunday September 11 at 11am. Tickets cost �15 which includes a �3 donation to Help for Heroes.

Most Read

The diverse selection of authors featured at the festival includes Diana Athill, Martin Sixsmith, Andrew Morton, Raymond Blanc, Peter Snow, Rachel Johnson, Clare Clark, Justine Pircardie, Justin Cartwright, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Lord Michael Levy, Sarah Brown, Peter Sissons and Esther Freud.