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Fate Is the Hunter: A Pilot's Memoir Paperback – July 2, 1986
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"This book is an episodic log of some of the more memorable of [the author's] nearly ten thousand hours aloft in peace and (as a member of the Air Transport Command) in war. It is also an attempt to define by example his belief in the phenomenon of luck -- that 'the pattern of anyone fate is only partly contrived by the individual.'" (The New Yorker)
"Few writers have ever drawn their readers so intimately into the shielded sanctum of the cockpit, and it is here that Mr. Gann is truly the artist." (New York Times Book Review)
"Fate Is the Hunter is partly autobiographical, partly a chronicle of some of the most memorable and courageous pilots the reader will ever encounter in print; and always this book is about the workings of fate. . . . The book is studded with characters equally as memorable as the dramas they act out." (Cornelius Ryan, author of A Bridge Too Far and The Longest Day)
"This fascinating, well-told autobiography is a complete refutation of the comfortable cliché that 'man is master of his fate.' As far as pilots are concerned, fate (or death) is a hunter who is constantly in pursuit of them. . . . There is nothing depressing about Fate Is the Hunter. There is tension and suspense in it but there is great humor too. Happily, Gann never gets too technical for the layman to understand." (Saturday Review)
"This purely wonderful autobiographical volume is the best thing on flying and the meaning of flying that we have had since Antoine de Saint-Exupéry took us aloft on his winged prose in the late 1930s and early 1940s. . . . It is a splendid and many-faceted personal memoir that is not only one man's story but the story, in essence, of all men who fly." (Chicago Sunday Tribune)
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This is a rare combination -- Gann not only has many wonderful yarns to spin but is a writer of truly top-drawer literary ability. As others have said, the book stands up well to repeated reading. My copy is battered and torn, but much loved.
He regards life as a war -- an undeclared war against fate, the fate that hunts men down. "... One can never know when, where, or how fate will strike. Yet sooner or later it does...." Blind random events without a perceptable cause. FATE.
"Tell me now,... by what ends does a man ever partially controls his fate? It is obvious ... that favorites are played, but if this is so, then how do you account for those who are ill-treated? The worship of pagan gods, which once answered all this, is no longer fashionable. Modern religions ignore the matter of fate. So we are left confused and without direction".
Gann concludes, "Perhaps we should hide in childlike visions of afterlife wherein those pronounced good may play upon harps and those pronounced evil, stoke fires?" The first chapter sets the theme of the book. A mid-air collision is averted simply because Gann chose to descend 50 ft to his assigned altitude of 5,000 a few moments before. The other plane was just a tad sloppy. In these days before ATC and radar, it was all position reports. Why did Gann chose to descend? Why was the other pilot 50 ft high? His only explanation is FATE, and it is as good an answer as any. At these times, Gann says, "... diligently acquired scientific understanding is suddenly blinded and the medieval mind returns. In describing NTSB investigations of crashes, a cause always has to be arrived at, even when the investigators privately know that the true explanation is that "...some totally unrecognizable genie has once again unbuttoned his pants and urinated on the pillars of science".Read more ›
Gann's writing so inspired me that I wanted to become an airline pilot, but my flying ability was just slightly better than Bixby, his inept co-pilot that almost collided with the Taj Mahal, another fascinating story later on in the book. I became a dispatcher instead, an occupation I truly loved, which was also inspired by Gann's interaction with the dispatchers of his line.
I wrote Ernest Gann at his home in Friday Harbor, Washington and tried to convey just how much I enjoyed "Fate is the Hunter" and what an impact it made on my life. I received short note from him. It was very gracious and humble, and is one of my greatest treasures.
I also highly recommend "Hostage to Fortune", a chronology of Gann's incredible life from a rebellious young man that could never follow his father into business and be chained to an office, through a lifetime of adventure, to his retirement on Red Mill Farm, on an island in the Pacific northwest.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This collection of stories from Ernest K. Gann's life as an aviator is well written and, at times, full of tension as he describes some of his harrowing experiences as a commercial... Read morePublished 24 days ago by NavySpy
This was a gift for my husband. He read the original years ago. He is thrilled to have the book and has not put it down for two days.Published 1 month ago by sevigirl
The reader will often think he is in the cockpit! This book should NOT be confused with the movie of the same name. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Paladin
Anyone with the slightest interest in aviation should read this book.
I read it 20 years ago, came across a reference to it recently and knew that I had to read it... Read more