An evocative tale of aviation’s rich and risky beginnings, featuring an American pilot’s unsung adventures.




In this historical novel, an around-the-world journey of a “fly boy” hero and his zero of a partner chronicles the time when “flying was new and intriguing.”

At Tokyo’s Narita Airport, over layover sake, a lone traveler enlightens four pilots about the daredevil life of Clyde Pangborn, aka “The King of Barnstormers,” responsible for the first nonstop trans-Pacific flight. He shares Clyde’s riveting midair mishaps and explains how he fought fierce competition from up-and-coming “day aviators,” ever-growing federal regulations, and the unfolding Depression, until reports of Lindbergh’s Atlantic crossing threw a gauntlet at his feet. While Clyde had the experience and ability to accomplish anything in the air, he lacked capital. Enter “bumbling wannabe aviator” Hugh Herndon Jr. and his moneyed mother, Mrs. Alice Boardman. After a series of mistakes during their perilous journey threaten to take down their plane (Miss Veedol), the usually taciturn Clyde tells Hugh, “Rich boys like you are too soft.” The technical and historical research of the Heikell brothers is top-notch and their odd couple, exotic locales, and white-knuckled flight scenes lend the novel a cinematic quality. Indeed, the plot seems ready-made for Hollywood. The dialogue, however, loaded with jargon and dry exposition, tends to detract from the story’s overall propulsion. The difficult relationship between Clyde and Hugh fuels the book, yet their long midflight arguments over how cold, hungry and bored they are cause the plot to sputter—as do constant cutaways to the inner lives of secondary characters on the ground. Although the pilots ask for the “mid version”  of Clyde’s story, the narrator delves into the personal stories of his mother, Opal; his hometown love interest, Diane; and, while held for treason in Japan, the smitten Yumiko—among others. It seems as if, like Hugh, the narrator sometimes loses sight of his main duty: keeping us in the air.

An evocative tale of aviation’s rich and risky beginnings, featuring an American pilot’s unsung adventures.

Pub Date: May 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-1468006087

Page Count: 238

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2012

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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