The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking review

The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of HijackingThe Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking by Brendan I. Koerner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Interesting book! Some things I learned from it:
– The period in question had a ton of hijackings. (or “skyjacking”s as they used to call it, which is way cooler!) At a Senate hearing, the airlines claimed it was an impossible problem “short of searching every passenger”, which they really didn’t want to do for cost reasons, and they thought passengers wouldn’t stand for it. At this point, every hijacker just wanted to go to Cuba, where the airline would pay Castro a nominal fee to get the plane back, so it didn’t even cost that much!
– A few weeks after the hearing, a hijacker pulled a gun on a Senator (randomly, he didn’t know the victim was a Senator), which made it clear that something had to be done. The State Department proposed providing free one-way flights to Cuba for anyone who wanted to go! (Castro didn’t want to do this – he preferred the black eye that America would take from hijackings) So the airlines told pilots and flight attendants to comply with hijacker demands no matter what to avoid violence. As a part of this, all cockpits had charts of the Caribbean regardless of where they were going, and some Spanish phrase cards to communicate with the Havana airport!
– So people just accepted hijackings to Cuba as a necessary risk of air travel for a while. (and passengers were treated well in Havana, although Castro generally disliked the hijackers themselves)
– By February 1969 there was more than one hijacking a week in the US! So the FAA tried again to address the problem, and the public had some input. They had the following crazy suggestions: trapdoors outside cockpits! Arming flight attendants with tranquilizer darts! Playing the Cuban national anthem before takeoff and then arresting anyone who knew the lyrics?! One suggestion the FAA took seriously was to build a replica of the Havana airport in South Florida to fool hijackers into thinking they had reached Cuba, but it was rejected as too expensive.
– Eventually hijackers started wanting to go other places, although they didn’t always plan ahead. One hijacker wanted to go to “Africa” (which is a pretty broad place to want to go?), but the airline only flew to California so of course their planes couldn’t reach across the ocean. Incidentally, the main hijacker’s girlfriend ordered one flight attendant to feed her baby a bottle, and another to crochet the baby a hat!
– The hijacking that broke the camel’s back was a hijacking in 1972 that landed in Cleveland, Toronto (an elderly passenger suffered a nonfatal heart attack on this leg of the journey), Chattanooga (where they picked up $2 million of ransom money), Havana (where Castro rejected them), Orlando (where the FBI started shooting at the plane, which still managed to take off), then for lack of a better idea, back to Havana. Along the way they threatened to “bomb” the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where nuclear material was kept. After that threat, the airlines saw the writing on the wall and agreed to screen passengers with metal detectors and inspect carryon bags. The Cubans also made a deal to extradite hijackers to the US, which didn’t hurt.

The main story is an interesting look at a hijacking by Roger Holder and Cathy Kerkow – how they hatched the idea, where they ended up, etc. The whole book is pretty interesting and I’d recommend it if you’re interested in such things!

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Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical review

Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the SkepticalMaking Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical by Timothy J. Keller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The book is basically a bunch of arguments for Christianity. While the author doesn’t try to prove the existence of God (which I appreciate!), he does make a number of arguments that I found pretty convincing about why the secular idea of morality still requires faith in something. (although not necessarily God)

There’s definitely some overlap with his other book The Reason For God, but I found this book thought-provoking and helpful.

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30-Second Philosophies review

30-Second Philosophies: The 50 most thought-provoking philosophies, each explained in half a minute30-Second Philosophies: The 50 most thought-provoking philosophies, each explained in half a minute by Barry Loewer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was fine enough. Having one page per philosophy is neat and a good way to introduce a bunch of stuff at once, but it turns out I’m really just interested in the ethics-related topics.

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Make Your Kid A Money Genius (Even If You’re Not): A Parents’ Guide for Kids 3 to 23 review

Make Your Kid A Money Genius (Even If You're Not): A Parents’ Guide for Kids 3 to 23Make Your Kid A Money Genius (Even If You’re Not): A Parents’ Guide for Kids 3 to 23 by Beth Kobliner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great book! This is a straightforward guide to how to talk to your child about various money-related topics all the way from preschool to after college. Each chapter is a different topic (like debt, savings, spending, insurance, etc.) and has a lot of good advice. I was happy to see that her advice to parents lined up with what I knew for the stuff I knew about, which is a good sign for the stuff I don’t know about.

Splitting the book by topic and then by age makes it easier to read straight through, but probably more annoying once our kid is old enough to fall under the preschool category, since the preschool advice is distributed in every chapter. But that’s a minor quibble, and I look forward to referring to this book in the years to come!

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Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks Who Plotted Hitler’s Defeat review

Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks Who Plotted Hitler's DefeatChurchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks Who Plotted Hitler’s Defeat by Giles Milton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very interesting look at guerilla warfare and other “ungentlemanly” fighting during World War II. The book is charmingly British and is a good look at the origins of the organization all the way up to their big missions. It really paints a pretty complete picture and the writing was engaging.

There was some overlap with The Winter Fortress as that’s one of the missions they covered, but happily the description of the sabotage lines up with that book.

Recommended!

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Viking Economics: How the Scandinavians Got It Right-and How We Can, Too review

Viking Economics: How the Scandinavians Got It Right-and How We Can, TooViking Economics: How the Scandinavians Got It Right-and How We Can, Too by George Lakey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was a good look at why Scandinavian countries are so awesome in health, happiness, income equality, etc. Basically, they have strong unions, and high taxes that provide for a lot of services that help even things out.

It was a bit repetitive, though. And it was really painful reading this in the early days of the Trump administration…

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