Pontifications: Heros and a thriller–two book reviews

Fly Boy Heroes, The Story of the Medal of Honor Recipients of the Air War Against Japan

By James H. Hallas. Stackpole Books, $29.95.

The First Counterspy

By Kay Haas and Walter W. Pickut. Lyons Press, $29.95.

Aug. 22, 2022, © Leeham News: Two books from my summer reading aren’t about commercial aviation but will be interesting to the broader aviation community.

These are Fly Boy Heroes, The Story of the Medal of Honor Recipients of the Air War Against Japan, and The First Counterspy.

Fly Boy chronicles short stories about the US Medal of Recipients who flew against Japan in the Second World War. Author James Hallas begins with the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor and ends with an April 12, 1945, Boeing B-29 raid on Japan. In between, the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo in April 1942, the Battle of the Coral Sea, Midway (the outgrowth of the Doolittle Raid), and other combat missions are recounted. The Medal of Honor recipients of these battles are, as the book’s title suggests, the flyboys whose above-and-beyond exploits earned them the Medal. Not all survived their missions, but some did. For those who did, not all had happily ever after endings late in the war or in civilian life.

Being a Chicago area native, I knew that O’Hare International Airport was named after Lt. Commander Edward O’Hare, more commonly known as “Butch.” I also knew, though few others today might, that Butch was the son of Chicago mobster Edgar J. O’Hare, or E. J. E.J. was a lawyer for Al Capone and testified at Capone’s tax evasion trial that sent the mobster to Alcatraz. For his troubles, E.J. was murdered in 1939.

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Pontifications: Two books examine GE’s fall from grace

Lights Out: Pride, Delusion, and the Fall of General Electric

By Thomas Gryta and Ted Mann

Mariner Books, $17.99, 361 Pages

The Man Who Broke Capitalism, How Jack Welch Gutted the Heartland and Crush the Sole of Corporate America—and How to Undo His Legacy

By David Gelles

Simon & Schuster, $28.00, 264 Pages

Aug. 1, 2022, © Leeham News: Two recent books about GE and its most prominent CEO, Jack Welch, offer different focus and fascinating insight.

By Scott Hamilton

One, Lights Out, is a detailed chronicle of the Welch era and those who followed. This book goes into much more detail than Gelles’, which is more of a biography of Welch than a corporate history—although obviously, there is pollination of both.

Gelles, a reporter for the New York Times, goes into some discussion about Boeing and the Welch-influenced people who came to lead Boeing, notably Jim McNerney and David Calhoun. But don’t expect Gelles’ book to take a deep dive into how Welch’s tutelage of McNerney and Calhoun affected Boeing. The discussion is superficial. This is, after all, a book focused on Welch.

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Book Review: Flying Blind is a must-read about the Boeing 737 MAX crisis

By Scott Hamilton

Nov. 20, 2021, © Leeham News: Flying Blind, The 737 MAX Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing is the sad story of how The Boeing Co., once renowned for its engineering prowess, descended into the depths of crisis with its most profitable airplane.

Authored by Bloomberg news reporter Peter Robison, much of the story is well known on the proverbial 35,000-foot level. Congressional hearings, investigative reporting, crash coverage of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 310, provided plenty of grist for the mill.

Robison delves deeper into the crisis that encompassed Boeing from March 2019 with the ET 310 crash, from which it won’t recover for years. I point to the Ethiopian crash as the start of the crisis, because for the most part, the Lion Air crash was viewed as just another crash—until Ethiopian’s tragedy made it clear there was something deadly wrong with the 737 MAX.

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Pontifications: Book Review, “Tigers in the Sea”

By Scott Hamilton

May 17, 2021, © Leeham News: Tiger in the Sea is a new book about the 1962 ditching of a Flying Tigers Lockheed Constellation L-1049H in the stormy North Atlantic.

It was, in modern-day comparisons, the US Airways Flight 1549 of its day. But while all 155 passengers and crew on 1549 survived the ditching in Hudson River, 28 of the 76 on board died.

US Airways 1549’s captain, Chesley Sullenberger, landed in the cold but calm Hudson River. Rescuers surrounded the plane within minutes. Tigers Capt. John Murray ditched in 20 feet seas in the middle of a storm with gale-force winds. The nearest ship was 13 hours away. Those who died survived the impossible landing.

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