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Brendan I. Koerner: The Skies Belong to Us

Events | Headline and Cultural Forums

Join us at 7:30pm on Sunday, August 11 at Ristretto Roasters for a reading and book signing by author Brendan I. Koerner, a contributing editor at Wired magazine, who will discuss the spirit of an America torn apart by the Vietnam War, raised-fist rebellion, and waning sixties idealism, when airplane hijackings were astonishingly routine. Over a five-year period starting in 1968, the desperate and disillusioned seized commercial jets nearly once a week. By 1972, a year in which a mind-blowing 40 hijackings took place, the phrase “Take me to Havana” had become a familiar prime-time punch line on sit-coms like “All in the Family".

Hijackers’ criminal exploits mesmerized the country, never more so than with the young lovers at the heart of
The Skies Belong to Us, Army veteran and a mischievous party girl, Roger Holder and Cathy Kerkow, who commandeered Western Airlines Flight 701 as a vague protest against the war and pulled off the longest-distance hijacking in American history. Through a combination of savvy and dumb luck, the couple managed to flee across an ocean with a half-million dollars in ransom - their madcap adventures eventually involving exiled Black Panthers, African despots, and French movie stars. Koerner paints a psychological portrait of America at its most turbulent, when, “By seizing a jet as it hurtled across the nation’s most exotic frontier, a lone skyjacker could instantly command an audience of millions. . .there was no more spectacular way for the marginalized to feel the rush of power.”

Brendan I. Koerner is a contributing editor at Wired and the author of Now the Hell Will Start, which he is currently adapting for filmmaker Spike Lee. A former columnist for both The New York Times and Slate who was named one of Columbia Journalism Review’s “Ten Young Writers on the Rise,” he has also written for Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, Mother Jones, ESPN the Magazine, and many other publications.

This event is co-sponsored with Ristretto Reading Series, Media Institute for Social Change, and BookMob Portland.

This event is free and open to the public.  No registration required.

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