Are you going to buy Sully’s book?

I don’t know. In all honesty, Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters, Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger’ autobiography, sounds like a bit of a snooze fest.

The book was released today to much fanfare and press.
No doubt, the Danville hero pilot is a nice, straight-arrow fellow, a true professional who, in his own words, used all his decades of training–studying the science of crashes, his stint as a military fighter pilot–to land that crippled jet on the Hudson River last January.
But 320 words (er, PAGES!) of Sully’s wit and wisdom? And haven’t we heard the story of the miracle landing in his own words before? In that interview with Katie Couric on 60 Minutes?
I don’t know. Tell me I’m wrong, and I do need to rush out and spend $25.99 to acquire a copy. Maybe you already have a copy and have read it and can set me straight.

I have been a bit wary of the book ever since the book deal was announced. The $3 million deal will allow Sully to publish not one but two books. Sully will follow up this autobiography with a book of, um, his inspirational poetry and writings.

Okay, okay, with regard to Sully’s poetry, maybe he is the next Robert Frost or Wallace Stevens or Richard Bach. Remember Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a best-selling totally ’70s inspirational novella about a seagull learning about life and flight, and a homily about self-perfection?

How much more there is now to living! Instead of our drab slogging forth and back to the fishing boats, there’s reason to life! We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free! We can learn to fly!

Then again, I started to wonder if I had jumped to a wrong conclusion about what the 58-year-old father of two has to say about his life and his flying career.
I was intrigued to read in accounts in the San Francisco Chronicle and the Contra Costa Times that Sully might give insight into the current woes of the airline industry, from a personal and professional perspective.

Apparently, Sully, like many of us, was facing serious money woes, in the current economic climate. His salary had been cut in half, he had lost half his pension, he was looking for side jobs, and he and his wife were talking about selling their house. Very relatable, right? The book, according to the Times, paints “an ominous picture of an atmosphere where cost-cutting is increasingly valued over safety, and passengers are largely unaware of the implications.”

I was trying to find reviews of it, and, so far all I could come across was this from Entertainment Weekly. The reviewer says that he has nothing but admiration for Sully, but he has few nice things to say about his “drearily written book.”

The reviewer makes a recommendation I can go with. It is to instead turn to a fresh take on the crash, written by William Langewiesche. He’s an award-winning journalist for The Atlantic and Vanity Fair; Actually, he’s an amazing writer, one of the best writers of long-form investigative and narrative journalism around these days. His book is called Fly by Wire: The Geese, the Glide, the Miracle on the Hudson and it’s due out next month.

18 thoughts on “Are you going to buy Sully’s book?

  1. Why would you write this commentary? Why would you denigrate a man in such a fashion for no apparent reason? I am truly confused. If a company wants to pay him to write a book, and he wants to get paid to write a book, so be it. It is not like he is the only person to write a book who did not have much to offer. There are people out there who want to read his book.
    Soccer Mom-please explain the reason for this post…..


  2. I agree with 8:44, if you don't want to buy or read the book, fine. But since you haven't read it and have only one review to go by, I think your commentary is premature. I'm disappointed in this story on your blog.


  3. Anon 8:44:
    How am I denigrating him? I don't question his heroic act or him as a person. I'm just wondering if his book is any good, if, beyond the emergency landing, he has an intriguing story to tell. Also I think it's fair to ask whether he's a decent poet, decent enough to get published. Maybe he is. Maybe both his book and his poetry will be useful and inspirational to people.

    If you get the book and think it's great, please let me and the rest of us know. Submit a guest review! Tell me I'm wrong.

    Again, I'm question this body of work by Sully, not Sully himself or his piloting accomplishments.


  4. Is it anti-American or soemthing to say something negative about Sullenberger? I'm not getting the book. He did a great thing but there's something disturbing about all this media hype around him. He's either milking it or the people around him are and we're just saps. His 15 minutes are up.


  5. Soccer Mom,

    You are trashing his book for no real reason, as far as I can tell. Let the people who read it review it.
    It just seems mean-spirited for you to trash it without having read it, and again, I ask what the purpose of that is.
    I, too, am disappointed in this story.


  6. wow, slow news soccer mom? are you now going to review restaurants, before you actually eat in them? maybe you can talk about movies before you see them. Maybe the book sucks, maybe it doesn't. at least read it and give it an honest opinion before taking 1 review and deciding.


  7. Hello there,
    Okay, some of you think I should read the book before saying something about its release? Maybe. Or maybe this isn't a “review,” but a “preview.” I never said this was a review.

    Sorry, I'm just saying that despite the hype, and the great deed that Capt. Sullenberger performed that day, I'm wondering if it will ultimately be a good book. I'm just asking the question. And, I'm speculating… As if no one else does that…

    For any of you who want to go out and buy the book and read all its 320 pages, and you want to offer your opinion, I would be very happy to post a “guest review.” Especially if it points out that I was wrong to not have read it before I raised questions about it…

    You don't have to use your name, but a pseudonym.


  8. OK, I read all of this thread.

    Calm down please.

    SM is just asking if we plan to spend almost $30 to read more about this incident and the life of the hero. I will if I see outstanding reviews. Otherwise, no.


  9. Did he write it while flying? Just kidding. My opinion is that his good fortune, a result of his skill and more deserves to be chronicled. It is not the kind of thing that happens too often. Personally, I'd have to see what was in it to make that decision but I give the man credit for what he did that day.


  10. I think a lot of people are fascinated by something spectacular that occurred that day –

    It's not just that it does not happen often, but in my 35+ years of being able to remember the news, I would have to say that such a thing NEVER has happened.

    It makes me think many pilots would benefit from glider lessons.


  11. Hero or not, Sully has been over-exposed. I won't get the book. Like SM said, it sounds boring except for the part about the crash.


  12. I understand what he did was life-saving and some deem heroic. Yet as passengers of airlines, don't we entrust our pilots to be able to save us as part of the job? As much as I admire Sully for saving the lives of his flight crew and passengers, I don't have interest to read his book.

    I don't think Soccer Mom has written anything poorly. Just a question, that's all.


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