Ernest K(ellogg) Gann Martin Caidin - Essay

Martin Caidin

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

In such novels as "Blaze of Noon" and "The High and the Mighty," Ernest K. Gann struck some memorable chords in the orchestration of flight. Now, for the first time, he steps from behind the shield of fiction to stand autobiographically exposed in "Fate Is the Hunter."…. It is a tribute to Mr. Gann that in his review of his own stirring years in the skies, the reader is often quick to forget that this is not fiction. Mr. Gann's subtle technique of drawing the reader into his scenes establishes a rapport between pilots and nonfliers that is rare, indeed.

Mr. Gann has chosen in "Fate Is the Hunter" to emphasize the many phases of his own flying life and those of fellow pilots…. These reminiscences stand excitingly as individual chapter-stories, but the author has woven them superbly into a lifetime of flight. The reader thus is transported through many spectrums of the airman's world, from that of the neophyte flier, the apprentice and finally to that of the skilled men who have flown across millions of miles of the earth's surface.

The constant, underlying theme that Mr. Gann pursues relentlessly may bring some queasy moments to the reader who is also an airline passenger. This theme is that fate is almost wholly the judge that determines the lifespan of men who make flying their career. (p. 10)

Few writers have ever drawn their readers so intimately into the shielded sanctum of the cockpit, and it is here that Mr. Gann is truly the artist. He does not press his reader, does not force him along; he does not hurry the issues of wonder that flight alone can provide. The author's pace is almost leisurely. He writes of men, of their actions, of their feelings; and the reader is suddenly startled to find that he is sharing the secrets as well as the great beauties of flight. (p. 12)

Martin Caidin, "Lady Luck Is Co-Pilot," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1961 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), February 12, 1961, pp. 10, 12.