TOUCHING HISTORY: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE DRAMA THAT UNFOLDED IN THE SKIES OVER AMERICA ON 9/11
By Lynn Spencer. Free Press. 320 pages. $26.
Midwest Airlines pilot Gerald Earwood was flying about 100 miles west of New York when he first noticed wisps of smoke coming off the World Trade Center. Soon Earwood and co-pilot Eric Fjelstad were frantically maneuvering their DC-9 jet to avoid colliding with United Airlines Flight 175. Their work, following orders from air traffic controllers, saved about 30 passengers and five crew members of Midwest Flight 7. A minute or so later, United 175 struck the south tower of the World Trade Center.
The near collision is among several stories told in the new book by Lynn Spencer that details how airline pilots, air traffic controllers and military pilots reacted to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Spencer, a commercial pilot, interviewed controllers, Federal Aviation Administration officials and military and civilian pilots, including Earwood.
The story of Midwest Flight 7 is among the most compelling in the book. It would be difficult to estimate the number of lives that would have been lost if a midair collision had occurred, Spencer writes. Burning debris from two jets could have been scattered throughout New York. “It's hard to know how many buildings would have burned,” Spencer writes.
THE PROSECUTION OF GEORGE W. BUSH FOR MURDER
By Vincent Bugliosi. Vanguard. 344 pages. $26.95.
Besides its provocative title, Vincent Bugliosi's new book comes with an exciting back story. The author – a lawyer best known for putting away Charles Manson – states that major publishers “did not want to have their name connected with” it. Two liberal law professors “were afraid to even look at the book,” Bugliosi adds. The reader courageous enough to buy a copy feels entitled to a bodyguard.
But after 20 pages or so, the adrenaline wanes, and all you have left is one of the most unoriginal, repetitious and self-indulgent books to reach the market in living memory. Its argument, which may be heard for free in many bars, is that President Bush lied us into an unnecessary war. Somebody really ought to put him on trial. At least that would make presidents more careful in the future.
Bugliosi, who has also written books on the Supreme Court, O.J. Simpson and the assassination of John F. Kennedy, offers an extensive dossier of evidence that Iraq was invaded on spurious and falsified grounds – all of it based on recent books and newspaper articles. For anyone who has been living in a bunker for the past five years, “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder” is a good way to catch up. Otherwise, it reads like a blog in disguise.