Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Review: Violence in the Skies: A History of Aircraft Hijacking and Bombing

Violence in the Skies: A History of Aircraft Hijacking and Bombing Violence in the Skies: A History of Aircraft Hijacking and Bombing by Philip Baum
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Even though a number of people do die in accidents each year, the number is incredibly small when compared to the numbers flying. To put it in perspective around 500 people per annum die in plane crashes, whereas around 150 die per day in road accidents. This makes flying is one of the safest forms of transport ever invented. What the engineers cannot do though, is plan for human actions.

In this book Baum has delved into the history books as far back as 1911 to look at all manner of hijackings and other well-known and lesser known acts of crime that have taken place not only in planes but have happened in airports and where civil aircraft have been subject to external attacks. Each chapter covers a period of around five years or of time and Baum provides a clinical analysis of all the available facts on each event, drawing on interviews from the passengers, crews and even from the hijackers themselves.

Whilst it is well written and aimed at the general reader, rather than those with industry links, it does occasionally feel quite dry. It makes for fascinating but uncomfortable reading, in particular when you consider some of the purely arbitrary reasons behind the attacks. He goes some way to prove that security measures are helping fight against this, but makes us aware that these have driven the perpetrators to formulate even more ingenious methods to spread terror and gain publicity for their cause. Using recent examples he highlights the new threats that have started to arise. It is not really a book for those that have a nervous disposition about flying, but again, it must be remembered that these tragic events are thankfully few and far between. 3.5 stars overall.

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