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Skyjack: The Hunt for D. B. Cooper (original 2011; edition 2012)

by Geoffrey Gray

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934131,245 (3.43)2
Member:mrmapcase
Title:Skyjack: The Hunt for D. B. Cooper
Authors:Geoffrey Gray
Info:Broadway (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:DNF
Rating:**
Tags:History, True Crime

Work details

SKYJACK: The Hunt for D. B. Cooper by Geoffrey Gray (2011)

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Showing 4 of 4
3 stars: Enjoyed parts of it.

From the back cover: "I have a bomb here, and I would like you to sit with me." That was the note handed to a stewardess on a Northwest Orient flight in 1971. It was also the start of one of the most astonishing whodunits and manhunts in the history of the American true crime; how one man extorted $200,000 from an airline then parachuted into the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, never to be seen again. The case of D.B. Cooper is a modern legend that has obsessed and cursed his pursuers for generations with everything from bankruptcy to suicidal despair. Now with "Skyjack", author Geoffrey Grey obtains a first ever look at the FBIs confidential Cooper file, uncovering new leads in the infamous case.

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This book is split into three sections: the skyjacking, the immediate chase/ aftermath, and years later, looking into people who may have been Cooper. The first two sections were "A's"-- very well written, engaging, with fascinating details. Only a small amount of the money was ever recovered; the rest never made it to circulation. Cooper clearly knew planes, with very specific details so he would be able to parachute out the back, without the cabin losing pressurization. He was never rude, but he was bold. Who was he? Did he survive? What happened to the money?

Too bad the last third of the book falls apart. It was terrible. It was gossipy, discussed "characters" that were completely superfluous. There were a few people, mostly women, who were portrayed unsympathetically as losers trying to discover if their loved one were Cooper. One particular standout passage went thusly: "I see breasts. Huge breasts. Colossal jugs. The screen changes. Now its a thong buried in the crevice of an oiled up butt. Now it's a vagina. Now another vagina." Describing a characters screen saver. The character himself was superfluous; certainly this passage is there purely for childish titilliation. Its too bad, as the rest of the story was so good.

Ultimately, Gray only shows what we already know: very little. There are some possibilities, and perhaps it was none of those suggested. None stood out to me as having particular credibility. ( )
  PokPok | Dec 13, 2012 |
Who was D. B. Cooper?

Songs have been written about him. Stories told about him.

But who was this man, this man who hijacked a plane and bailed out over the Pacific Northwest, with $200,000 in ransom money?

Geoffrey Gray is determined to find out.

Gray sets out in search of this mysterious Robin Hood figure and, in the process, consults a former-stewardess-turned-nun, the boy-now-man who found some of the ransom money, the widow of a man who claimed he was Cooper on his deathbed, and many more odd and intriguing characters.

You'll love to take this trip with Gray, so much that you won't even mind if Gray doesn't find out Cooper's identity.

Thank you to the publisher for this lovely review copy. ( )
  debnance | Sep 23, 2012 |
November 24, 1971 was the day before Thanksgiving. The weather was typical for late November in the Pacific Northwest, as a huge low pressure system over the Pacific came ashore with gusty winds and torrential rain, and it seemed perfectly suited to the mood of the country. The Vietnam war was at its worst. A few months before, the Pentagon Papers had exposed the details of President Nixon’s covert bombing of Laos and Cambodia. Some 200,000 people had protested in Washington D.C. Earlier in the year, riots had broken out at Attica prison in New York. Environmental activists were committing acts of sabotage against polluters. Airplanes were being hijacked with some regularity, often by Communist sympathizers wanting to go to Cuba.

As Northwest Orient flight 305 took off from Portland Oregon, on the last leg of a cross country flight, a nondescript man seated in the rear of the plane handed a note to a stewardess (as they called flight attendants in those days).
MISS,
I have a bomb here and I would like you to sit by me.

So began the legend of D.B. Cooper.

He had actually bought his ticket under the name of Dan Cooper, but a wire service reporter created the name that made him famous. He demanded $200,000 in cash, two back and two front parachutes, and a fuel truck to refuel the plane in Seattle. He strapped the money bag to his body, using shroud lines he cut from one of the parachutes. Somewhere south of Seattle, he jumped from the aft stairs, apparently over a dense roadless rainforest known as the Dark Divide. Massive searches of the presumed drop area, and investigation of thousands of suspects, found nothing.

Years later, a young boy found three packets of the Cooper money, at Tena Bar along the Columbia River. No other evidence was ever found. Forty years later, this remains the only unsolved hijacking in U.S. history.

Geoffrey Gray is a contributing editor at New York magazine. In 2007, a private investigator who had provided leads on previous stories told Gray a curious story about a suspect in the D.B. Cooper case. Eventually Gray became caught up in the mystique. In Skyjack, he tells the story of the hijacking, the subsequent investigation, and his research into a kaleidoscopic assortment of suspects and Cooper aficionados. The story is entertaining and frustrating in equal measure, and ends on an appropriately inconclusive note. ( )
  oregonobsessionz | Nov 27, 2011 |
The second half of the title of this book is quite accurate. “The Hunt for D.B. Cooper” is far more the focus of the book than the skyjacker himself. Author Geoffrey Gray immerses himself in the lives of those hunting the elusive legend – and as the book goes on, these obsessed and more than eccentric people take the focus almost completely off the 1971 crime.

Grey was given access to FBI files and has new leads to pursue, and dreams of finally solving the case (and winning the Pulitzer prize). Yet these leads seemed to lead him farther down a rabbit hole than down the road of fortune and glory.

The section of the book that deals with “The Jump” was fascinating. I had no idea skyjacking was such an epidemic at the time…and along with many people; the story of the hijacker that got away intrigues me. I learned that “D.B” was a name born of a bad phone conversation – that the ticket purchased was actually in the name of “Dan Cooper”. The details of the actual events were well laid out and interesting.

Once the book moves into the later years of “The Hunt”, however, I started to lose interest. There are so many people mentioned as possible “D.B.”s and so many more than colorful people looking for the mystery man, that not only does the thread of the story get lost, but my interest waned.

There are copycat skyjackers, people who talk about skyjacking, people showing up all over the country with large amounts of cash, wives who suspect their husbands of being the criminal, frustrated transsexuals, fortune hunters still looking for the loot 40 years later…it ended up being a mishmash of bizarre people and stories.

“What do I know about a criminal investigation? I’m taking my cues from an 80-something retired postal worker from middle-of-nowhere Minnesota, whose advice to me was to rent a metal detector. I want to cry.”

Given that such slim leads and completely circumstantial evidence are given such time and weight in this decades old hunt, I could see why. “The Hunt” devolves into the section “The Curse” with good reason. A link to a comic book character from the 1950s named Dan Cooper is investigated, pornographic movies are thought to contain clues…

“There is no path. There is no story. What have I done? What have I found? Proof that the Cooper Curse has gotten me too?”

“I call the Pentagon. The media liaison has no idea how to answer my question. I don’t even know if I’m asking a question. I’m ranting about covert ops.”

And at the end, when a link between a possible Cooper suspect is thought to be in a recipe for cheery cheesecake…the answer to the author’s question seems certain.

There just seems to be something about this 40-year old mystery that grabs the imagination of some people and pulls them beyond the edges of reality. It is a fascinating crime, but it is one that seems better viewed as history instead of a way of life. ( )
1 vote karieh | Jul 17, 2011 |
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Bombproof and crowded with oxygen . . . terrace, volcallure at casa
Cugat, Abbe Wants Cugie Gets
We're up against an enemy, a conspiracy. They are using any means.
We are going to use any means. Is that clear?
- Richard Nixon
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For Nana
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Skipp Porteous wants to talk and says can we meet and I say fine.
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"Geoffrey Gray reopens one of the great unsolved criminal cases of the 20th century: the puzzling story of "D. B. Cooper," the only skyjacker never to be caught by authorities"--

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