An Open Book – January 2022

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book. Here’s what I’ve been reading for the past month.

Amazon Synopsis: Fifty years ago on November 22, 1963, in Dallas’s Dealey Plaza, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated while traveling in a motorcade with his wife, Jacqueline. LIFE magazine, the weekly pictorial chronicle of events in America and throughout the world, was quickly on the scene. The Kennedys had been our story: Jack and Jackie made the cover in his sailboat before they were married and he was a fresh-faced senator from Massachusetts, and the White House doors had remained open to LIFE throughout his presidency: Cecil Stoughton’s photographs of Caroline and John-John in the Oval Office, Jackie’s tour of the renovation, tense behind-the-scenes moments during 13 days of the Cuban Missile Crisis — all of this appeared in LIFE. We needed to be in Dallas.

The famous Zapruder film first appeared in LIFE, after being acquired by LIFE’s Richard B. Stolley. Stolley also interviewed at the time Dallas police, Kennedy administration officials, members of the Oswald family, workers at Jack Ruby’s bar. Jackie’s first conversation after the murder was with Theodore H. White for LIFE, and in it, she told the American people, for the first time, about the Camelot her late husband had imagined.

My review: I received this book as a gift for Christmas. Fascinating and essential for anyone who has an interest in JFK and his assassination. 5/5

Amazon Synopsis: As hundreds of rescue workers waited on the ground, United Airlines Flight 232 wallowed drunkenly over the bluffs northwest of Sioux City. The plane slammed onto the runway and burst into a vast fireball. The rescuers didn’t move at first: nobody could possibly survive that crash. And then people began emerging from the summer corn that lined the runways. Miraculously, 184 of 296 passengers lived.

No one has ever attempted the complete reconstruction of a crash of this magnitude. Drawing on interviews with hundreds of survivors, crew, and airport and rescue personnel, Laurence Gonzales, a commercial pilot himself, captures, minute by minute, the harrowing journey of pilots flying a plane with no controls and flight attendants keeping their calm in the face of certain death. He plumbs the hearts and minds of passengers as they pray, bargain with God, plot their strategies for survival, and sacrifice themselves to save others.

Ultimately he takes us, step by step, through the gripping scientific detective work in super-secret labs to dive into the heart of a flaw smaller than a grain of rice that shows what brought the aircraft down.

An unforgettable drama of the triumph of heroism over tragedy and human ingenuity over technological breakdown, Flight 232 is a masterpiece in the tradition of the greatest aviation stories ever told.

My review: I enjoy non-fiction books written like novels. This one is especially compelling. I’ve seen a few documentaries about this flight and how miraculous it was that so many people survived. This book goes into a lot more detail than the documentaries. Interesting, excellent read. 5/5.

Amazon Synopsis: Are DEMONS and ANGELS, like vampires and werewolves, merely legend and lore?

Or is there more to life than meets the eye?

This is the question high schooler, Clare Thomson, is faced with when she unwittingly discovers she can see spiritual beings.

My review: This was a compelling read from a new YA author. This book isn’t just for teens; it’s also for anyone who needs a reminder that angels and demons exist and are more real than vampires and werewolves. Highly recommend. 4.5/5.

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