Synopses & Reviews
In an America torn apart by the Vietnam War and the demise of the idealism of the sixties, 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.
Brendan I. Koerner presents the fascinating true story of how young couple Roger Holder and Cathy Kerkow pulled off the longest-distance hijacking in American history.
About the Author
Brendan I. Koerner is a contributing editor at Wired magazine and the author of Now the Hell Will Start. A former columnist for the New York Times and Slate magazine, he has also written for Harper's, the New York Times Magazine, and Mother Jones, among many other publications. Named one of Columbia Journalism Review's "Ten Young Writers on the Rise," Brendan won a 2003 National Headliner Award for feature writing, and his stories have appeared in Best American Science Writing and Best American Science and Nature Writing. Rob Shapiro got his professional start as an entertainer doing stand-up in Minneapolis while still in high school (the Children's Theatre Company and School of Minneapolis). As a voice-over artist, he can be heard narrating such audiobooks as the bestselling The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick, Frank: The Voice by James Kaplan, and the fantasy noir Low Town by Daniel Polansky. He performed several seasons of radio comedy on Minneapolis Public Radio and voiced the titular lion in Leo the Lion. Rob is also a musician and composer; with his critically acclaimed band, Populuxe, he has released two CDs-A Foggy Day in Brooklyn and Deep in an American Evening . . .-and the EP, Daphne. He is one half of the Velvet Collar, who released their first record, Double Standard, an unlikely collection of cover songs by the Stooges, Hoagy Carmichael, and the Gershwin Brothers, among others, in 2011. Finally, Rob is a business consultant and software system designer, specializing in desktop publishing and workflow efficiency, with clients and implemented systems spanning the globe.