THEIR DARKEST DAY: The Tragedy of Pan Am 103 and Its Legacy of Hope by Matthew & Tom Foster Cox

THEIR DARKEST DAY: The Tragedy of Pan Am 103 and Its Legacy of Hope

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Flat but informative account of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, and of the tragedy's impact on the American families and friends of the victims, as well as on Lockerbie inhabitants who survived the rain of bodies and flaming debris that descended on their small Scottish town. Written by two reporters from the Syracuse, N.Y., Post-Standard, the narrative not only explores the details of the bomb's construction and placement but also provides biographical vignettes of many of the passengers, 40 of whom lived or attended school in Syracuse. Notified about the deaths of the 270 passengers and crew members, relatives of the victims, the authors explain, quickly organized and began lobbying for stricter airport security and for a full-scale investigation into the atrocity. Interestingly, the lobbying group eventually split acrimoniously over procedures and empowerment, and it soon became clear that the Scottish survivors were better able to get on with their lives after the initial shock than were the American family members. Some readers, in fact, while sympathizing with the Americans, may feel that their grieving and dwelling on morbid details were ultimately counterproductive. Cox and Foster's revelations concerning the laxity of Pan Am's security measures--warnings were ignored, and one security executive had a criminal record--and the airline's attempts at a coverup are shocking. They also report that a p.r. firm was called in by Pan Am to shift the blame to the German police, among others. But no one involved comes across as blameless, while ironies abound: Jaswant Batsuda missed the flight because he had sat drinking beer in the Heathrow lounge; Ella Ramsden kept a tight grip on her ""wee dog"" as her Lockerbie home was demolished around them. Impressively researched, if rather dully written.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1992
Page count: 241pp
Publisher: Grove Weidenfeld