THE LAST NINE MINUTES: The Story of Flight 981 by Moira Johnston
Kirkus Star

THE LAST NINE MINUTES: The Story of Flight 981

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In June 1974 the largest, and grisliest, air disaster in history happened a few minutes after a Turkish Airlines DC-10 took off from Paris's Orly airport and crashed at Ermonenvilie, disintegrating the crew, all 346 on board, and every suitcase, handbag, and credit card. The plane, which did not burn, was literally sawn to bits by a pine forest it plowed through for a half mile. Moira Johnston rehearses the tragedy as if leading the New York Philharmonic in a horrific new piece she is determined to squeeze every last feeling from: it is ""horror by the yard,"" with more than a million pieces of wreckage and 20,000 pieces of human remains. (She quietly goes about getting a couple of laughs too.) What's more, she has almost psychic knowledge of the shades, degrees, and varieties of panic among passengers and crew. Somehow, incredibly, her colossal detailing is not stomach-turning, despite her sensational approach--because the sensations she recaptures are part of the facts determining the insurance awards to families filing suits in staggeringly involved courtroom battles. How much is a dead wife worth? . . . in America, in England, in Turkey? A dead infant? A provider, rich or poor?. Each of forty Japanese students? An absolutely gripping, intensely well-written weighing of human values against technological achievement.

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1976
Publisher: Morrow