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Life, Love, and a Hijacking: My Pan Am Memoir

An authentic voice helps this tale take off.

Knecht’s memoir takes readers up into the rarefied atmosphere of being an international flight attendant with iconic airline Pan American, with its special culture, exotic locales, and quirkiness.

Debut memoirist Knecht is a very engaging schmoozer. After becoming a Pan Am flight attendant just out of college, she planned to work there for a couple of years, then pursue other plans; instead, she remained with Pan Am until its demise in the early 1990s. She took to world travel like a Boeing to the jet stream. Readers also learn about her upbringing and ambitions. In those days, Pan Am ran a tight ship, and esprit de corps was high. There was, of course, some tomfoolery (Knecht is a member of the Five Mile High Club). On the somber side, the hijacking in the title refers to the 1986 hijacking of Pan Am 73 on the tarmac at the Karachi airport. Knecht wasn’t on the flight, but many friends were, including an Indian flight crew whom she had trained and befriended. Knecht tells the story well, capturing the anxiety and horror. After Pan Am, and on a very loose arrangement with its successor, Delta, she became a private flight attendant, serving on private or corporate jets, where she met many celebrities about whom she is now happy to dish. Speaking of dishes, her book also includes recipes for many items from the famous Pan Am menu. Knecht is a competent though not fully polished writer given to clichés. Anecdotes, the life of her memoir, are alternately amusing and somewhat forced, or the reality struggles to survive the telling. Always hovering behind the narrative like a ghost is the downfall of Pan Am—a bittersweet backdrop for such an alluring profession.

An authentic voice helps this tale take off.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-5025-2349-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2015

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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