THE AMERICAN EAGLE by Dan Reed

THE AMERICAN EAGLE

The Ascent of Bob Crandall and American Airlines
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An extravagantly adulatory appreciation of Bob Crandall, whose world-class executive talents have enabled American Airlines to survive, if not thrive. Drawing on apparently open access to his subject's company and its top brass, Reed (who covers commercial air transport for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram) focuses on Crandall's career at American. After joining the carrier in 1973 (at age 38) as chief financial officer, Crandall took almost immediate wing, moving up through a succession of increasingly responsible posts to the presidency in 1980 and the chairmanship five years later. Along the way, Crandall contributed significantly to the development of a breakthrough computer-based reservation system that brought travel agents into the loop, helped American weather the storms of deregulation, and beefed-up so-called ``hub-and-spoke'' flight operations. A tough, innovative competitor, Crandall also settled price-fixing charges (stemming from an ill-advised phone conversation with his opposite number at Braniff) and incurred the enmity of organized labor by pioneering two-tier wage scales for pilots, mechanics, et al. But though he's a master of the game when it comes to aggressive expansion and controlling overhead expenses, Crandall has never had much luck in keeping fares at consistently profitable levels. Indeed, his vaunted Value Plan came an instant cropper last year. Reed nonetheless gives him an ``A'' for effort on this and a flock of other projects, all but ignoring the bleak realities facing airline operators in the unfriendly skies of global as well as domestic markets. Although Crandall is arguably the air-transport industry's dominant personality, the author fails to offer enough big-picture perspectives (e.g., indications that his subject may be fighting a losing battle) to raise the airline executive's curriculum vitae above the level of corporate hagiography. A wasted booking. (Eight pages of b&w photographs--not seen)

Pub Date: June 10th, 1993
ISBN: 0-312-08696-2
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1993




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