Final Flight, by Peter Stekel (Hardcover, 2010)|
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Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
This book was an interesting read. I like a good mystery, especially
when it's an actual event.
The book was factual, well-researched, and written with an obvious
passion for the subject. It was well-written, and the author stayed
authentic to his sources. He didn't interpret or change source material
to fit an unrelated agenda (or any agenda at all).
The author's editorial integrity became apparent to me after
discovering my own mistake in the reading. I had originally mistaken a
frequent misspelling as the fault of the author. He quoted directly from
sources (including personal letters written by the crash victims),
spelling errors and all. I kept reading "judgement" instead of
"judgment" and was going to comment that the book needed proofreading.
But then I read the word correctly spelled with no quotes. The author
correctly spelled it with each of his own usages, but where quoting he
left the warts alone.
This book stands out in many other regards. One of those is the
detail. We see the author is presenting and explaining the facts, rather
than giving us a conclusion to accept by faith. As a reader, I felt
respected by the author.
Another way it stands out is this. It was unclear to me, until almost
the very end, what the author's opinion was. He explored one theory
after another, using such things as weather data and analysis to poke
holes in the theory. I didn't feel like the author was cramming a
viewpoint down my throat. I felt like the author was taking me by the
hand and exploring the possible explanations for this crash.
This was no easy task. The author worked with a great deal of
conflicting information. This could have been a head-spinning exercise
in frustration for the reader, but it wasn't. The author sorted things
out logically and in a manner that didn't confuse or tax the reader.
Many times when I finish a book, I find myself unconvinced of the
author's viewpoint because the presentation is so one-sided. Read books
on, for example, manmade global warming, and this is what you see. Not a
convincing case with a solid examination of possible explanations, but
just cherry-picked facts and leaps of logic.
I am not arguing whether the earth is warming or not, just using this
as an example and wondering how the alleged "consensus of scientists"
can explain why the ice caps on Mars are melting from human activity.
Glaring holes are not things these kinds of authors even try to fill;
they just hope you won't notice (as if you're stupid). Stekel, however,
points out where the holes are and tells you why they can't be filled.
This author's respect for reality, integrity, and the reader greatly
added to my enjoyment of this book. Perhaps what I enjoyed most was the
human side of the story. The author put the reader in the mind of the
pilot (and others). It all felt real, probably due to the detail in the
writing and the passion in the writer.
I'm not particularly interested in plane crashes, so this story
didn't have an inherent appeal to me from that angle. I almost didn't
pick this book out, for that reason. But I noticed the author was a
climber, and as I am also a climber that was enough to get me
interested. As it turns out, he told a good story. In its telling, the
author made me want to know more about rotors, downdrafts, cumulo-granite
issues, WWII-era flight navigation, and other related topics. Then he
delivered on that knowledge.
This book consists of 18 chapters in 235 pages, plus a prologue. It
includes maps and photos, too. The references section, unsurprisingly,
shows exhaustive efforts at researching the book. As does the
Note on authenticity and research
Kudos to the author also for bucking the current trend of using a
non-fiction book as an excuse to spew statist propaganda. This book,
unlike most non-fiction titles today, was actually non-fiction.
The research for a good non-fiction book involves combing through
secondary and tertiary sources. But unfortunately, many authors place
heavy reliance on poor sources (the better to "support" the author's
irrational political views that don't belong in the book in the first
place). But this book heavily relies on authoritative sources, making adroit use of secondary and tertiary research.
A few really good books tap primary sources, sometimes involving the
author's original research. This book relies heavily on primary sources,
including the author's own discoveries (e.g., being on a climb in which
his climbing partner found one of the missing bodies), his encyclopedic
knowledge of the Sierras, interviews with experts on closely-related
subjects, and interviews with other good sources.