CHOSEN INSTRUMENT: The Triumph and Tragedy of Pan Am and Its Founder, Juan Trippe by Marylin & Selig Altschul Bender

CHOSEN INSTRUMENT: The Triumph and Tragedy of Pan Am and Its Founder, Juan Trippe

Email this review


The second behemoth, in two years, on Pan Am founder Juan Trippe and the growth of the world's once-mightiest airline--and, fortunately for those whose funds or space are limited, chiefly a confirmation of the varied excellences of Robert Daley's predecessor, An American Saga. The main attraction of the present volume is to those of a muckraking or debunking bent: Bender and Altschul--wife-and-husband, business writer and aviation consultant--have more detail than Daley on Trippe's personal failings and devious business dealings, and, most importantly, on the ""special relationship"" between Pan Am and the US government (the Post Office Department initially, the State Department subsequently) which enabled Pan Am to become the ""chosen instrument"" of US air policy abroad. Correspondingly, they spend much more time on these matters--just how ""Yankee Imperialism"" enabled Pan Am to get various Latin American concessions, just how Trippe's ""secret diplomacy"" (re Britain) or Pan Am's ""unilateral negotiations"" (re New Zealand) discomfitted the US government--and much less on the actual routes, the pioneer flights, the accidents and other setbacks, the new planes and equipment, the personalities, or even the often-ingenious finances involved. Daley's narrative, moreover, is not only better civil-aviation history, and much better reading (clear-or, livelier), it is often closer to fact. Researchers interested in the 1925-1944 fight for overseas air routes will find supplementary information here; otherwise, as history or biography (save for some skeletons in the ancestral closet), a distant second.

Pub Date: Aug. 9th, 1982
Publisher: Simon & Schuster