FREEFALL by Jack E. Robinson

FREEFALL

The Story of the Needless Destruction of Eastern Airlines and Those Who Valiantly Struggled to Save It
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A poorly written, ostentatiously scathing, and utterly dispensable log of an airline's slow-motion crackup. On the inside (as the twentysomething VP of corporate development) only during Eastern's last days, Robinson has had to rely on secondary sources to provide background on the forces and factors that propelled the faltering carrier into Chapter 11, and he adds little to a sorry tale that was widely and competently covered by the media from the time Frank Borman was obliged to sell the deficit-ridden airline to Frank Lorenzo's Texas Air until the last departure gate slammed shut on January 19, 1991. The self- serving subtitle notwithstanding, Robinson concludes that Eastern had not earned the right to survive in commercial aviation's competitive, deregulated skies. He rounds up the usual suspects identified in the press as responsible for Eastern's terminal plight, as well as a couple of apparent villains who largely escaped censure by the fourth estate: labor's Charley Bryan (portrayed as a leader of immense personal appeal to journalists, albeit an almost mindless intransigent at the bargaining table) and Burton R. Lifland of the US Bankruptcy Court (whose judgments cost creditors dearly). Otherwise, Robinson heaps scorn upon avaricious attorneys and their fellow professionals who collected over $100 million for dancing attendance on Eastern's death throes. Noted in passing is Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, which boosted fuel prices and kept many travelers close to home. Among the few heroes of the piece is Martin Shugrue (something of a mentor to Robinson), the trustee who made a high-profile, last-ditch effort to keep Eastern flying. An axe-grinding account of a failed enterprise that deserved, if not a better fate, at least a more accomplished Boswell. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-88730-556-3
Page count: 288pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1992




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