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The Skies Belong to Us by Brendan I. Koerner
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The Skies Belong to Us

by Brendan I. Koerner

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Blogged at River City Reading:
Today, it’s hard to imagine breezing into an airport mere minutes before your flight takes off; no metal detectors, no full body scanners…shoes on. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, airport security was shockingly nonexistent and customers were treated like royalty. At the same time, however, airplane hijackings were so common that some insurance companies began offering “skyjacking insurance” for passengers who happened to be caught in the unpleasant situation.

In his book The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking, Brendan I. Koerner pieces together a history of this time period, centering on a Vietnam veteran named Roger Holder and his party girl accomplice who successfully hijacked Western Airlines Flight 701 and became notorious throughout the world. Both a fascinating look into the psychology of America and a detailed portrait of the lives of the era’s key players, Koerner has put together a brilliant piece of narrative non-fiction that often reads like an exciting caper.

( )
  rivercityreading | Aug 10, 2015 |
It's hard to imagine in these days of TSA security, but over a five-year period starting in 1968, hijackers seized commercial jets nearly once a week. Mr. Koerner uses the hijacking of Western Airlines Flight 701 on June 2, 1972 as the centerpiece of his book, with other tales of hijackings wrapped around it. Roger Holder and Cathy Kerkow captured Flight 701 with a fake bomb. Neither had to pass through a metal detector or any security screening before boarding the plane.

Screening baggage with metal detectors at airports did not become mandatory until 1973. The airlines and their lobbyists fought security requirements. They thought costs would be prohibitive, and that passengers would rebel. Civil libertarians fought screening as a Constitutional violation. (For a touch of cynicism, the automobile industry supported the screening requirements.) ( )
  dougcornelius | Oct 15, 2014 |
Pretty good analysis of the "Golden Age" of skyjacking, viewed through the story of one of the most successful of them. On June 2nd, 1972, Roger Taylor, a mentally unsound Vietnam vet, and his ditzy girlfriend Cathy Kerkow commandeered Western flight 701 . After a half baked plot to free Angela Davis was foiled. they managed to get a half million dollar ransom and transit to the randomly chosen Algeria.
Taylor and Kerkow are a minor tragedy; the best parts are the descriptions of all the crazy hijacking attempts that came before, and the story of the evolution of airport security. ( )
  HenryKrinkle | Jul 23, 2014 |
Is it love or is it a crime? This book was a recollection of the turbulent sixties and seventies, with emphasis on a particular hijacking. It also discusses the political environment, FAA in cahoots with airlines who don't want to spend money on security, a president forced to act by the plethora of hijackings, often more than one in a single day. Further, Castro gets fed up with multiple hijackings to Cuba and even multiple returnees from the 1980 Mariel boat lift and finally signs the first agreement with the USA since he took over. The only thing missing from this book is D.B. Cooper; perhaps, the author went to great pains in avoiding his mention? ( )
  buffalogr | Dec 21, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a book for those who like their true crime mixed with history, politics and sociology. I have vague memories of skyjacking as a social phenomena from when I was a kid, but never realized just how prevalent it was. It's amazing to realize, in our ultra security-conscious world, just how easy it was to bring weapons of mass destruction aboard airplanes. Even through all this, the airlines and the government at the time were hugely opposed to any kind of screening, claiming it would be massively disruptive and impossible to implement, and that travelers would never put up with it. We all know how that turned out. As a snapshot of a particular, turbulent time in America and the world the book is fascinating. It pulls the veneer off entities such as the Black Panthers, reminding the reader of the crimes that led leaders such as Eldridge Cleaver into exile. And the image of Jean Paul Sartre and the French intelligencia feting these two losers makes it clear just how much the world has changed, and how the face of terrorism has evolved. ( )
  goygirrl | Dec 3, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
On June 2, 1972, a few minutes before his flight from Los Angeles was scheduled to land in Seattle, a tall, skinny black man in an Army dress uniform walked up the aisle and handed the flight attendant an index card that said he was wired to bomb the plane. Like everything else about the man, his note seemed to veer between the meticulous and the insane. He had drawn a diagram of the bomb he said he was carrying in his briefcase; it was so credible the pilots concluded he had had training in explosives. But his note seemed the product of a manic mind: “Success through Death,” it read, and it said that he had accomplices in the cabin from the violent radical Weatherman group, and the not-violent radical group Students for a Democratic Society. The pilots decided to comply. They asked the man where he wanted to go. North Vietnam, he said.
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brendan I. Koernerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Shapiro, RobNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sturman, BarbaraDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
White, EricCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
My son, from whence this madness, this neglect
Of my commands, and those whom I protect
Why this unmanly rage? Recall to mind
Whom you forsake, what pledges leave behind.
—Virgil, The Aeneid

I shoulda stayed in Job Corps,
but now I'm an outlaw...
—Ghostface Killah
Dedication
For Maceo and Ciel
Figures can't calculate...
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The man in the black sunglasses tells the waitress he's fine with just coffee.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307886107, Hardcover)

In an America torn apart by the Vietnam War and the demise of sixties idealism, airplane hijackings were astonishingly routine. Over a five-year period starting in 1968, the desperate and disillusioned seized commercial jets nearly once a week, using guns, bombs, and jars of acid. Some hijackers wished to escape to foreign lands, where they imagined being hailed as heroes; others aimed to swap hostages for sacks of cash. Their criminal exploits mesmerized the country, never more so than when the young lovers at the heart of Brendan I. Koerner’s The Skies Belong to Us pulled off the longest-distance hijacking in American history.

A shattered Army veteran and a mischievous party girl, Roger Holder and Cathy Kerkow commandeered Western Airlines Flight 701 as a vague protest against the war. Through a combination of savvy and dumb luck, the couple managed to flee across an ocean with a half-million dollars in ransom, a feat that made them notorious around the globe. Koerner spent four years chronicling this madcap tale, which involves a cast of characters ranging from exiled Black Panthers to African despots to French movie stars. He combed through over 4,000 declassified documents and interviewed scores of key figures in the drama—including one of the hijackers, whom Koerner discovered living in total obscurity. Yet The Skies Belong to Us is more than just an enthralling yarn about a spectacular heist and its bittersweet, decades-long aftermath. It is also a psychological portrait of America at its most turbulent, and a testament to the madness that can grip a nation when politics fail.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:31 -0400)

In an America torn apart by the Vietnam War and the demise of Sixties idealism, airplane hijackings were astonishingly routine. Over a five-year period starting in 1968, the desperate and disillusioned seized commercial jets nearly once a week. Some hijackers wished to escape to foreign lands; others aimed to swap hostages for sacks of cash. The longest-distance hijacking in American history took place in 1972 when a shattered Army veteran and a mischievous party girl, Roger Holder and Cathy Kerkow, commandeered Western Airlines Flight 701 as a vague war protest. Through a combination of savvy and dumb luck, the couple managed to flee across an ocean with a half-million dollars in ransom, a feat that made them notorious around the globe. Journalist Brendan I. Koerner spent four years chronicling this madcap tale, which involves a cast of characters ranging from exiled Black Panthers to African despots to French movie stars.--From publisher description.… (more)

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Tantor Media

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