A Scapegoat review from across the pond
When I was looking for an agent and publisher for my book Scapegoat, I received hundreds of rejection letters. I spent a solid two years sending out query letters. In all of those rejection letters, not one person requested to see the actual manuscript. They made their decision solely on the marketability of the book. In their minds, there simply wasn’t a market for this story. One particular rejection I received was from an editor at Smithsonian Books. She wrote that they were passing on the book because it did not have mass appeal. By this point I had received so many rejections that her comments barely registered. So, I was a little surprised when a year after my book came out Smithsonian Books released the book The Flight 981 Disaster. The book tells the story of another NTSB investigation with some similarities to Scapegoat. I’ve been following that book since its release. Unlike my independently published book, this book had the benefit of receiving reviews in national publications like the Washington Post and Booklist. Despite that clear advantage, Scapegoat has outsold that book in every format.
It can take a while for some books to reach an audience, especially when the book starts out at a disadvantage. But I can assure you that the story of TWA 841 is spreading. Below is a comment I received from a reader in the UK.
Dear Mr Corsetti.
Having just read your book I felt I needed to both thank and congratulate you for a truly excellent and very well written account of the events surrounding TW 841. At the time, ( as a 34 yr old engineer)and following the events from the UK and (unusually ) receiving Aviation week, I recall believing that NTSB version that Capt. Gibson and his colleagues had tried to alter the angle of attack.
Such is the power of the media and the NTSB ! Appalled but not surprised is how I would summarize the events so well explained and well written by you in your book. Now a 72yr old chairman of my successful aviation GPU business -and having studies aircraft accidents for years it has taught me the ability to identify issues in my business before they can interact to cause a problem. Since TW841 we have still seen numerous cases where “big business” in aviation has worked dishonestly with the FAA and others to keep facts suppressed for commercial gain over safety. If you have not read it — I recommend the book “Destination Disaster ” about the shocking antics of Mc Donnall Douglas and the DC10 -written by a team of UK investigators.
Your book briefly alluded to the commercial pressure that Boeing could have faced had the 727 been grounded. I would bet money that there would have been a massive behind the scenes cosy discussion with the FAA and NTSB to keep the focus on crew controls mismanagement far beyond that which surfaced in your book.- Job offers on retirement etc, off the record phone calls , you name it — almost certainly it would have gone to the top. I travel extensively and like most people who have a fairly good knowledge of aviation, fly based on the law of average.
My current beef is with poor flying skills and the use of over reliance on automation–and we can cite numerous events ,culminating in the shocking and incompetent actions with the AF447.crew. French culture had a hand in this too. I have recommended your book to another seriously wronged – Ex Continental (United) retired Capt . I know . My son is actually delivering a copy of your book LATER TODAY to my British V/P for our US business who operates from Boca. It’s a present for him . He is also a big aviation follower.
Your book in my view was an excellently woven marriage of technical facts , indisputable points, political and personal data compiled written with an objective view in a perfect blend to make it a riveting read and at times ones blood boil. Thank you for yet again exposing the bigotry , hypocrisy, and hand of big business in suppressing critical safety issues . As you Americas say– you can’t fight city hall –at least not eas1ly once the ball starts rolling a certain way .
Kind regards Richard Roller PS. The book I recommend from a perspective of seeing how the aviation business has a highly suspect relationship with the FAA is Destination Disaster , written by Paul Eddy and two colleagues from the Sunday Times investigative reporting team, Publishes originally in 1976.