China Clipper Review

China Clipper
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China Clipper ReviewThis is a very interesting book. The picture of the book on Amazon has the subtitle `The gripping story of Pan Am's flying boats and their role in the war in the Pacific.' I got a hardback copy, which didn't have a subtitle. The impression I got from the introduction was that the book is about the last flight of the `Hawaii Clipper', bound for Hong Kong in July of 1938 (as we eventually find out, it disappeared without a trace somewhere between Guam and Manila). And, the book does start off with a fictionalized version of that flight, beginning in Alameda. Fictionalized in the sense that we have conversations between people who were actually on the plane, but of course nobody knows what they really said. One of the passengers on that flight was Wah Sun Choy, who, as it turns out, was apparently carrying a large amount of money (the author gives the figure three million dollars), which Choy planned to deliver to the Nationalist Chinese to aid them in their war with the Japanese. Very interesting scenario, right? However, the fictionalized `last flight' really occupies a comparatively small part of the book. Most of the book is historical material, telling the story of Juan Trippe and Pan Am, their close relationship with the U.S. government, and the aid they gave in the government's preparations for war with Japan. It also has a fair number of period photos. The author obviously did a lot of research, and I enjoyed the historical part. However, the feeling I got while I was reading the book was that the author couldn't make up his mind whether he wanted to write a history or a novel. Occasionally he would pop back to the `last flight' as it progressed across the Pacific, and then he would return to the historical background. However, at the end, it turns out that the whole purpose of the book is to advance a rather controversial explanation for the disappearance of the plane (I won't give away the ending). The author does a pretty good job of defending his case, but I still find his explanation pretty hard to accept, mainly because one would think that there would be at least some evidence to support it. His theory is partly based on the fact that there was no evidence - the plane simply disappeared without a trace. As to the fictionalized portion of the book, I found it rather un-dramatic, but of course I didn't realize until the end that he wasn't necessarily trying to write an interesting story, he was just setting the scene. I didn't find anything about the book `gripping', but overall, I enjoyed it.China Clipper Overview

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