BIRD DREAM by Matt Higgins
Kirkus Star


Adventures at the Extremes of Human Flight
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The breathtaking highs and life-threatening plunges of the most extreme stuntmen on Earth.

Keep your mixed martial arts, parcours and BMX bikes; you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen the point-of-view video of these free-flying pilots soaring in their homemade wingsuits over some of the most extreme terrain on the planet. In this riveting journalistic account, freelance writer Higgins chronicles the evolution of the sport from simple parachuting to BASE jumping (the acronym stands for building, antennae, span and Earth, which serve as launch points) to the development of these soaring, superherolike armored flight suits. The book is full of colorful characters but largely focuses on the contrasts between two of the most charismatic pilots, both of whom seek the holy grail of the sport: to land without using a parachute. The most famous is Jeb Corliss Jr., an adrenaline junkie who is most famous for a spectacular 2013 jump off China’s Mount Jianglang, popularized in a startling online video called “Grinding the Crack.” Despite being backed by multimillion-dollar sponsors, Corliss can’t seem to avoid trouble—e.g., being imprisoned for a spoiled jump off the Empire State Building in 2006 or carving a good chunk of his leg off during a 2012 flight in South Africa. Corliss’ counterpart is Gary Connery, the do-it-yourself British stuntman who famously doubled for the queen during the James Bond stunt at the 2012 Olympics. This is thrilling reporting, but Higgins responsibly never avoids the fatal risks involved, and neither do the pilots. A graphic account of the death of Corliss’ best friend, Dwain Weston, who slammed into Colorado’s Royal Gorge Bridge at 120 mph, punctuates the inherent danger. For anyone who finds these kinds of emotional and precise accounts of risk, ambition and victory irresistible, this is a must-read.

A highflying, electrifying story of a treacherous sport in which every triumph is an eye blink away from becoming a disaster.

Pub Date: Aug. 4th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-59420-465-4
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Penguin Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2014


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