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Diverted: High Flyers and Frequent Liars Paperback – April 10, 2012
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The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
Mark Mogel grew up near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, where his love of American history and politics was born. A veteran of the United States Air Force, Mr. Mogel spent 26 years in the computer industry before he became involved with airline passengers' rights in March, 2007. He served as the "Information Technology and Research Director" for Kate Hanni's FlyersRights.org until August 2009.
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Mogel tells the story from the perspective of his personal relationship with the key player, consumer advocate Kate Hanni. It could easily have turned maudlin or even pitiable, but his skill is such that, in his hands, it doesn't.
Because of the importance of the underlying theme of public policy formulation, it is more than a little sad that Diverted is unlikely to receive nearly the public attention it merits, mostly because of the relative obscurity of its cast of characters. It fully deserves to be read in context with John Heilemann and Mark Halperin's Game Change and Dr. Nassir Ghaemi's A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness, which both inform and are informed by Mogel's book; which is in every respect their equal.
At the same time, I must caution that the tale Mogel tells from his unique perspective is highly susceptible to the Rashomon effect, by which events are perceived in radically different ways by different participants. For my own part, I remain firm in awarding to Ms. Hanni the accolade first conferred upon her by New York Times business travel writer Joe Sharkey - she is an American hero. I expect to always value the small role I may have played in her effort to end the strandings of passengers on board commercial airliners under deplorable conditions. I confess as well that I utter silent words of praise and thanksgiving to her every time I set foot aboard an airplane, and expect that everyone else should as well.
The circumstances that shape public policy in our Country are certainly not of Ms. Hanni's making. She did everything that she, or anyone, could do to end tarmac strandings. Those advocating for the status quo, of which there were many, were well represented and more than an equal match. While interesting, given the particularly odious nature of the dragon Hanni slayed, I find the motivations, and, to some extent, the methods that may have been employed, far less important.
My own opprobrium is reserved only for those government officials, airline executives, flight crew members, and, mostly, members of the general public who knew since at least 1999 that passengers were being held against their will for more than 3 hours aboard grounded flights, without food, water, access to sanitary facilities, ventilation or the other necessaries of life -- and did nothing. In the end, perhaps one can only echo the sentiment sometimes attributed to Bismark: The two things you don't want to see being made are laws and sausages.
I thought the book was a real page-turner once you got past the first two chapters. And I think it is amazing that these two people, with a few on-and-off helpers, essentially succeeded in getting legislation granting airline passenger rights enacted by our government.