Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Daughters of Erebus by Paul Holmes.
Other than being a bit wordy and with a tendency to repeat certain assertions a few times too many, this was an excellent read. It is probably the book that we have all been waiting for if we have ever had concerns about what really happened on Flight 901 and in the aftermath. Well written, very well researched and documented, the book hums along and takes you right into what is in essence a Family Tragedy that reverberated through hundreds of New Zealand lives and destroyed more than a few reputations in what could only be described as a blame game that was so orchestrated that it fairly takes your breath away reading what was served up for public consumption all those years ago. It is stunning to realise that the lives of the pilots on this flight and the families they left behind were secondary to the needs to apportion blame in a way that would leave the Airline and Government of the day as free as birds to continue on, while those left behind felt the sting of blame sear their lives. Sicker still are those people who had been long time friends of the Collins and Cassin families and who at the convenience of mainting ties with Air New Zealand dump these families like hot toast!
Without Peter Mahon, Gordon Vette and the perseverance of Maria Collins in trying to right a wrong, we might all believe that two wise, sensible, long serving pilots of impeccable reputation just decided to have a nice day out, do as they shouldn't`t and take 255 lives with them. Unfortunately for the likes of Chippingdale, Davis and Muldoon who would have you believe their campaign literature, they discrepancy in the Flight Co-ordinates are plain for all to see, clearer still when reading this book which due to Holmes skill makes things really easy for even the most flight knowledge challenged to read, you don`t at all feel dumb or have to miss pages with the technical stuff, he makes it easy.
The wonderful thing about this book is that it weaves all the different facets of the issue into a narrative that enlightens, challenges and gets the reader thinking while drawing them ever so skillfully onto that flight and into the midst of that amazing experience that was the trip to Erebus and while the horror of what transpires is very real, it doesn`t ruin the read.You come away with a new understanding of the meaning of bravery, courage, grief, pain, loss, lies, deceit, choices, chances and loyalty and what motivates people to choose one over the other.