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Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters Paperback – May 11, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Captain Chesley Sully Sullenberger became a hero after landing a distressed U.S. Air plane on the surface of the Hudson River in New York City. His fascinating and deservedly praised memoir reflects on his childhood love for planes and an outstanding 42-year career as a pilot—as well as how he and his family coped with the onslaught of sudden celebrity. McConnohie does his level best to fill Sully's shoes and delivers a solid performance, but the real highlights are the portions of the text read by Sully himself, sounding as cool, calm, and collected as he was on that day in January 2009. An enhanced CD with the voice recorder transcript of the crash completes the package. A Morrow hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 19). (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From the Back Cover

On January 15, 2009, the world witnessed a remarkable emergency landing when Captain "Sully" Sullenberger skillfully glided US Airways Flight 1549 onto the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 aboard. His cool actions not only averted tragedy but made him a hero and an inspiration worldwide.

Highest Duty is Sully's story—a story of dedication, hope, and preparedness, revealing the important lessons he learned through childhood, in his military service, and in his work as a commercial airline pilot. It reminds us all that, even in these days of war, tragedy, and economic uncertainty, there are values still worth fighting for—that life's challenges can be met if we're ready for them.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; 1 edition (May 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061924695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061924699
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (228 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

192 of 195 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Clemens on October 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think that Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger's book reads well. Very well, indeed. Were it solely about the five minute flight over New York City in January, 2009, it would have a lot of padding in its 300+ pages - but fortunately, and obviously (to those who know the author), it's not just about the world-famous events of the amazing ditching on the Hudson River - it goes far, far beyond that.

Highest Duty is a portrait of an American life. Sully takes us on a tour encompassing his small-town upbringing, discussing his parents' instillation of strong, consistent values, discussing his early love affair with aviation, telling personal and touching stories of his family and his remarkable wife and partner Lorrie, covering his life-long focus on improving safety and reliability in aviation, and reviewing his observations about our nation's commercial aviation industry.

While one might reasonably wonder whether a formerly anonymous commercial pilot would have a compelling story to tell - a story that goes beyond the brief flight over the Hudson River - the engaging pages of Highest Duty make it clear that Sully's story is engaging, gripping, and filled with lessons for us all.
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110 of 110 people found the following review helpful By AdamSmythe on October 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for a long narrative of Chesley "Sully" Sulllenberger's amazing piloting of US Airways Flight 1549 on January 15, 2009, then you will be disappointed, so don't buy this book. On the other hand, if you want to know just what brings a man like Sully Sullenberger to exceptional (maybe even heroic) performance, then read on. The answer is developed over 300 pages of Sullenberger telling the reader the story of his life--from a small community in Texas through the rigors of the Air Force Academy through service to his country as an Air Force fighter pilot and on to his commercial flying career. Were it not for the remarkable challenge of "The Miracle on the Hudson," chances are that we'd never have heard of Sully Sullenberger. Indeed, he estimated that he has flown perhaps a million people--and until January 15 virtually none of whom would recognize him a week after their flight--and that's the way he would want it to be. Yet that doesn't mean the strength and character of the man weren't already there. If there's one thing to derive from this interesting book, that's it. His remarkable qualities were already developed through his life experiences.

As you read this book, you realize that Sullenberger was absolutely prepared to be a pilot. It started back when he learned to fly (at age 16), it continued during his years at the Air Force Academy and in the Air Force, and it kept growing through his commercial pilot career. For example, he made a point of studying aircraft accidents, trying to put himself in the seats of those who had to make split-second decisions.
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75 of 83 people found the following review helpful By genesrus on October 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Found myself captivated by the book that Capt. Sully Sullenberger wrote in the aftermath of sailing on the Hudson with an Airbus A320. Agree with the couple of other reviewers that this is about much more than just the LGA incident. This book describes the ethos of a very modest, private and self effacing pilot and gives us a window into a career and a calling that saved the lives of some 150 odd people. I found the content on relationships and parenting very readable and poignant. What I found saddening is the dismantling of America that I see in all walks of life extends to even the airline industry. I probably realized it was happening but to have it spelled out by Sully .....the outsourcing of even the airlines: maintenance, machining and the incredibly low wages accorded pilots is STUNNING. I found the book well written and lucid!! On a somewhat separate note I find it beyond belief that we all prop up systems that reward Wall Street and their sinecures while driving the likes of Sully into penury!
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Russell Scherwin on October 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At first glance, this is an unspectacular work by a regular guy who takes a lot of pride in and passion for his chosen career.

At a deeper glance, this book has solidified my belief that one's life is defined by the outcome of inflection moments. These moments are rare, they come at unpredictable times and change everything. This is a book about a man who was (a) prepared to manage risks, (b) in the moments that mattered drew from that preparedness with flawless execution, and (c) performed his captain duties by ensuring his passengers' safety after the ditch.

The message to be taken out is two-fold:

1) Time is a dangerous agent that can remove lessons of the key risks, and every professional has a duty in understanding their landscape and drawing from historical perspective, in doing their job and being prepared for the unlikely, yet possible inflection events.

2) Service organizations have a duty to set risk management procedures that encompass known risks, and those they service should be able to define whether they'll pay.

I highly recommend this read, and remain in awe of all the people and events surrounding Flight 1549.
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