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Skyjack: The Hunt for D. B. Cooper Paperback – September 4, 2012
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© David Fields
It seems like all the good mysteries are gone. We know who Deep Throat was. We know where Thomas Pynchon lives. The missing 18 minutes on the Nixon tapes have proved unrecoverable. But then, winking at us like one last taunting fossil from the violent, paranoid 1970s, there’s the baffling case of D.B. Cooper.
On November 24, 1971, a man calling himself Dan Cooper hijacked a Boeing 727, demanded $200,000 and parachutes, and jumped out over the Pacific Northwest. At a time when the country was beset by war, assassinations, riots, a faltering economy, and the Nixon presidency, Cooper was heralded as a Robin Hood of the sky. Enormous investigative resources were marshaled. Ballads were written. Cooper was never heard from again.
Forty years later, Geoffrey Gray dives chute-less into the swirling abyss of Cooper mania and lands with a true non-fiction novel, with characters too eccentric to be invented and a hurtling pace rarely found in the world of fact. The writing is stylish. The reporting is unstoppable. Gray is sympathetic and funny and saucer-eyed--even, at times, unhinged. He wants to solve the unsolvable, and remarkably, for a famous cold case, his spadework turns up fresh material.
As much as Skyjack is about D.B. Cooper, it is also a searing group portrait of those who even today find meaning in his mystery, a travelogue through a tumultuous era in American history, and a study of the paranoid style in American obsession. Most indelibly, it is an exploration of the mystery within the mystery, the puzzle of why these unfilled blank spots in our past have such a haunting grip on our imaginations.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“Out of the wild blue yonder comes this pleasing tale of obsession and mystery. Geoffrey Gray has essentially parachuted into the early 1970s and found a nearly forgotten episode that elucidates a swath of our cultural history. The result is a clean, smart whodunit full of quirky characters, imaginative sleuthing, and thrilling surprises.”
—Hampton Sides, author of Hellhound on His Trail
“Here is writing and storytelling that is vivid and fresh—a delectable adventure from a talented new author.”
“With verve and assurance worthy of his protagonist, Geoffrey Gray pulls readers along on a kaleidoscopic chase through the cult of Cooper. Both a masterful re-creation of the paranoid 1970s, and an exhilarating firsthand account of an erosive obsession, Skyjack takes us down the rabbit hole with Gray—and what a journey it is.”
—James Swanson, author of Manhunt and Bloody Crimes
“Who was D.B. Cooper? In SKYJACK, Geoffrey Gray lures in the reader with this iconic unsolved mystery, and for the next 290 pages explores a story as attention-grabbing as a bag of hot money. D.B. Cooper emerges as the great McGuffin of 1970s America, a prism through which Gray exploits to the fullest with his propulsive writing style, mad commitment to detail, and explores everything from the early years of gender reassignment surgery to the birth of airline security culture to the ghostly legends of the Pacific Northwest's Dark Divide.”
—Evan Wright, New York Times bestselling author of Generation Kill
“SKYJACK tells the legendary story of D.B. Cooper in a way that’s as inventive and as engaging as the subject itself. Only a writer as talented as Geoffrey Gray could knit together the many strands of this mystery and the extraordinary characters who have dedicated, and in some cases destroyed, their lives in pursuit of the truth. Just as Gray finds himself sucked into the tale, readers will leap into the void alongside him, landing on their feet and smiling at the shared adventure.”
—Mitchell Zuckoff, author of Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II
“Easily one of the most delightful books I’ve read in a long, long time. In his obsessive search for answers in the legendary case, Gray becomes a little unhinged himself as well as encountering an array of characters I haven’t seen the likes of since Mark Twain sent Huck down the Mississippi. His style fits the case, and Gray can be compared with Tom Wolfe and Evelyn Waugh in his talent for unearthing the eccentrics of the world and the bizarreness of life.”
—John Bowers, Associate Professor of Writing, Columbia University, author of The Colony and Love in Tennessee
“…An exciting journey into the byways of popular culture. This is hardly the first book about Cooper, but it may be the first to treat his story for what it has become: an ongoing phenomenon, like the search for Bigfoot, with a remarkable ability to consume the imaginations and lives of generations of searchers.”
“Gray organizes this, his first book, like a Tarantino film, cutting chronology into strips, then reassembling them in a sequence that readers may consider (pick one) eccentric, confusing, artistic, random, maddening, fun, revelatory. It's all of the above.”--Cleveland Plain Dealer
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Geoffrey Gray presents what can best be called the human side of the D.B. Cooper mystery. He's done incredible research into the lives of not only the likely suspects (he focuses on Kenneth Christiansen, Duane Weber, Richard McCoy, and Barbara (Bobby) Dayton), but also the pilots, flight attendants, FBI agents, and amateur sleuths involved with the case. The extent that the D.B. Cooper saga has impacted (and ruined) lives is simply incredible.
Gray also doesn't shy away from hard evidence and facts. He pursues and discusses countless leads, no matter how flimsy. He partnered with scientists, private investigators, experts of all kinds, FBI agents, and even the online community. He combined this information with new access to FBI files and other documents to provide the most up to date information about Cooper's motives, his possible identity, and where he may have ended up. He has a list of sources/references at the end of the book for those who may want to dig deeper.
In the end, however, the book is filled with a lot of "he might be or he might not be" with regard to Cooper's ultimate identity. Readers wanting a foregone conclusion should look elsewhere, but for those who want to decide for themselves based on the best information (count me in this category), Gray has done a fantastic job.
For a casual D.B.Read more ›
This book is a big disappointment. It's written a new-mod newspaper tabloid style with many short two or three-word sentences. Like this. Like in your face journalism; jabbing little sentences , wise-guy feel to it , cool wannabe and gratuitous four-letter words. I'm not a prude but these obscene words have no business here and don't add anything to the book.In fact , I was turned off completely.
As another poster commented, he also changes scenes, years and settings quite frequently as his narrative unfolds. I'm aware that there is such a style , having read many great books written that way. But you get the feel that he's just trying to be cute and ape other books and styles.
He also depicts news events of the time which have nothing to do with this story. I can understand some background of the times but here he depicts mainly negative events in quite a few chapters.. It's too bad because there is some new and interesting information , but all of that gets lost .
What a disappointment ! Can somebody else please write a book about Dan Cooper that doesn't insult the intelligence of the reader?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good read for those interested in the infamous D.B. Cooper case in 1971. Creates more questions than answers, but then again, isn't that the allure of D.B. Cooper anyway?Published 3 months ago by E. Tobkes
Most of the negative reviews here center around a common complaint--that SKYJACK is more about Geoffrey Gray's experience investigating the D. B. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Leaman G. Crews
Previous reviewers did a pretty good job of explaining why this book is terrible. I wish I had paid more attention to reviews before shelling out money on this. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Dominique
This book reminds me of when, during my college years, I was given a reading assignment on some obscure subject, written by an even more obscure author. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Fisherbill
Plenty of data and event recounts and details on major circumstantial suspects, but just like the case ends basically unresolved.Published 18 months ago by Texas Paesan