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A New York Times Notable Book of 2013
In this compelling blend of true crime and history, Brendan I. Koerner tells the forgotten story of the hijacking "epidemic" in the United States during the late 1960s to mid-1970s. Covering dozens of hijackings during this period, the author focuses on one particular case, that of Roger Holder, a disgruntled Vietnam vet, and his girlfriend Cathy Kerkow, a troubled young woman from Oregon, who pulled off the longest-distance hijacking in U.S. history. Based on four years of research, thousands of declassified FBI and FAA documents and interviews, the author traces the rise and demise of hijacking as a tool for political, social, or economic gain, and examines how aviation security evolved into its present form.
“The free-wheeling, hijacking-crazy days of the 1960s and early '70s come to life vividly in Brendan I. Koerner's evocative new page-turner The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking. With abundant research and a sharp eye for the absurd, Koerner transports us to a time long before anyone thought of crashing planes into buildings, when people took over airplanes for all sorts of weird reasons that were only occasionally political.” –Los Angeles Times
“Koerner crafts thorough research into a perceptive, riveting presentation.” –Booklist
“Brendan I. Koerner has meticulously reconstructed one of the maddest and most fascinating crime stories in American history. The result is a riveting and illuminating book that will hold you in its spell.”
– David Grann, author of The Lost City of Z
“The Skies Belong to Us is one of the most exciting and fascinating books that I've read this year. It recreates a time when American skyjackings were so common – and casual – that they occurred every week, and brings you into the thrilling heart of one of the most audacious hijackings in history. I couldn't stop reading, and what's most amazing is that it's all true.”
– Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit
“Brendan I. Koerner has turned an odd, nearly forgotten aerial-hijacking episode into an astonishing, hilarious, and un-put-downable true-crime narrative. I had no idea that any story could connect the Eldridge Cleaver of the Sixties with the TSA miseries of today's air travel, but The Skies Belong to Us does that and much more. This is a marvelously entertaining, instructive, and humane book.”
– James Fallows, National Correspondent for The Atlantic and author of China Airborne
“Besides being a can't-put-it-down page-turner and an evocative recollection of a forgotten slice of history, The Skies Belong To Us feels uncannily relevant today in its depiction of how political forces can impede rational solutions to criminal violence.” – Benjamin Wallace, author of The Billionaire’s Vinegar
"This material, naturally a great yarn, is handled exceedingly well by the journalist Brendan I. Koerner, whose main interest, beyond the simple delight of the story, is in excavating the skyjacking epidemic from history—an extended moment, from 1968 to 1972, when dozens of planes in the United States were taken over by hijackers, most of them professing political aims." —Dwight Garner, New York Times