Originally published by Wm. Morrow, in 1995, Skygods is the saga of America's most glamorous airline - from its meteoric ascent to its plunge to extinction. Pan Am blazed the way across the world's oceans with its magnificent Clipper ships, launched the first international jet service, was the first to fly the behemoth 747, was the lead customer for America's SST and the Concorde, and was even taking reservations for the first commercial flights to the moon.
Told from multiple viewpoints - pilots, stewardesses, management executives - Skygods is the life story of an American icon.
©2012 Robert Gandt (P)2014 Robert Gandt
Classic detectives and history are mostly my thing along with a dash of science fact and fiction.
I bought this book having read something similar about Lockheed some years ago. This feels more like a novel, in a way, than hiatory. The book is broken up into nice short chapters, each with a complete story of it's own, which add to make a fascinating tale of corporate hubris. I ended up unable to stop myself from listening virtually non stop.
I would, however, recommend that you listen to a sample. I found that I liked the narrator but I can imagine that his drawl may annoy some.
For me though, one I am glad to have in my library, and one that will bear another listen.
"An Absorbing Slice of Social History"
At the risk of dating myself, I only flew on a Pan Am aircraft once - which is somewhat amazing, as growing up I flew a fair bit. But I'll chalk that up to being Canadian, and therefore I typically flew Canada's carriers. But I distinctly remember that trip - and the awe when I saw that I'd be flying from the Orient to LA on. . . Pan Am. It had a mystique that was unshared by other airlines. For a few years, I parked that memory; but there have been many times, as an adult still travelling internationally, as I've looked at the liveries of the aircraft in Charles de Gaulle or Heathrow, that I've wondered, what whatever happened to Pan Am?
This audio book answers that question. It's a fascinating social history of Pan Am, in an easily digestible, captivating narrative. When I first heard the sound bite, I was concerned about the narrator - but I quickly came to realize he was an inspired choice. At times the book is almost "campy" - the Sky Gods and the Imperial Sky God. But this really fits the story. And the narrator, with his slow, at time exaggerated drawl - perfects the tone of the book.
This was a really enjoyable audio book about a subject that has piqued my interest many times since that first flight. It's very easy to listen to: have a little patience with the narrator to start and you'll soon realize his genius for this book. For those who are interested in the history of aviation - and were taken in by the mythical aura of Pan Am - this will be very enjoyable.
"Amazing story of an American institution"
The book covered details and provided facts previously unknown regarding PAN AM's key to success and its eventual demise. Such an amazing American icon's story is a must read for anyone interested in American and/ or aviation history.
"Excellent aviation book"
Yes I would. As an Air Traffic Controller in Miami during the 1980s and 90s I personally witnessed many of the aspect of this writing. The clear and meaningful flavor of Mr. Gandt's writing puts new spin on many of the things I was part of as they happened.
The subtle humor that is reminiscent of J Moore's "The Wrong Stuff: flying on the edge of disaster"
I've listened to several of Mr Blocks works and this one actually exceeds the excellent quality that I've come to expect.
I wouldn't. Aviation movies always get it wrong and I wouldn't subject a great work like this to that trash heap.
"Great story of a once-great airline"
For much of the 20th century Pan Am was THE airline. It was the gold standard. How did it go from that lofty perch to just being a memory ? If a friend was interested in aviation or history, it's worth it.
Non-fiction version of numerous airline/ airplane dramas.
Yes, absolutely. Sounds like it was recorded in his basement. He clearly knows aviation, but so what. Pan Am's history is fascinating, dramatic and , at times, heart wrenching. I got none of that from this narrator.
No. There was only one Pan Am.
Good example of a fascinating story hurt by a lackluster narration.
This was a good listen overall if you like aviation and history. But there was something missing. Not sure what it was though, hence the 4 stars.
"Literally could not put it down!!!"
This was not only the best aviation/airline book I've EVER read, it may be the best book I've ever read! I thoroughly enjoyed every word of it and HIGHLY recommend it.
"An airline company crashes"
Very interesting story of a colossal rise and fall as well as mismanagement of what could have been a profitable multi-century business.
"The Perfect Business and Plane Enthusiast Book"
Yes, it covers the entire story of one of the greatest companies in American history.
The story has a great mix of corporate drama and jet age optimism. It can be used as a business learning tool or listen to for pure enjoyment.
The book is well-researched and written and held my attention through the long story. The surprise was the narrator! His voice characterizations are hilarious! Just the way he reads the chapter numbers had me laughing! :-)
Probably so… Thomas Block's narration--a kind of curmudgeonly old-timer delivery--was charming and definitely grew on me. I am inclined to think that his reading brings out some humor in Gandt's writing that would be easy to miss from the printed page.
Gandt's decision to make the perceptions of the pilots, the "Sky Gods", the focus of his narrative. Specifically, the "New Hires" from the mid-1960s, who did their apprenticeships under the "Masters of Ocean Flying Boats", and who were promised that they would be captains of SSTs and Lunar Clippers. This focus made for a very human touch to a book about economics, business relationships, corporate mergers, and civil aviation policy.
If I have one criticism, which is not really fair, it would be this: I would like more on the heyday of Pan-Am and less on its prolonged decline. On the other hand, Pan-Am's decline is a perfect window into the larger commercial aviation industry, and that story, from 1968 and the dawn of the 747, through the early '90s, is fascinating.
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