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Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,227 Ratings  ·  251 Reviews
On January 15, 2009, the world witnessed one of the most remarkable emergency landings in aviation history when Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger skillfully glided US Airways Flight 1549 onto the surface of the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 aboard. His cool actions not only averted tragedy but made him a hero and an inspiration worldwide. To Sullenberger, a ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by William Morrow (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Will Byrnes
Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger has written (with the help of Jeffrey Zaslow) a very readable memoir that details not only the specifics of his memorable Hudson River landing of flight 1549, but a very convincing explanation of how he was able to get it done.

The book’s subtitle is “My Search for What Really Matters,” and while what Sullenberger reports may be aeronautical, it ain’t rocket science. It was a combination of his own talent as a pilot and thousands of hours piloting aircraft, y
Mar 04, 2010 Bobbie rated it really liked it
I have profound respect and admiration for Captain Sullenberger. Because of his lifetime of hard work and dedication, his clear thinking and his respect for life, a tragedy was averted that day on the Hudson.
Nov 15, 2009 Glenn rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Very inspirational story on Chesley's life and the events of Flight 1549 that crash landed successfully on the Hudson river in New York just 5 minutes after takeoff in Jan 2009 after a flock of Canada geese took out both engines. All 155 onboard survived. Through the dedication to his craft and also to his copilot and three crew members, they were able to stay calm in the midst of a harrowing experience, react to the best of their abilities, and make split second decisions to save the lives of a ...more
Feb 13, 2013 Consuela rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book. The author makes the case that his miraculous landing of the disabled plane on the Hudson last January was a culmination of a life lived paying attention to what he was doing (especially flying) and carefully following the rules. I enjoyed reading about his passion for flying starting at age 5 and how he began lessons at age 16. It's wonderful to read about someone who is so focussed that he never had any doubt about his direction in life. His time at the Air Force Academy a ...more
Dec 12, 2009 Julie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: evryone who wants to cheer for the good guys!
What a miracle ... and what a life! One of the good guys ... and gives tribute to all those that helped saved the 155 people as he performed a perfect water landing in the NY Hudson River last January. He stated many memorable quotes but one that really stuck out was" Everyone's reputation is made on a daily basis. There are little incremental things - worthwhile efforts, moment you were helpful to others - and after a life time, they add up to something. You can feel as if you lived and it matt ...more
Oct 17, 2011 Christopher rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
Most people when they see this book will probably think that it is only about the now famous "Miracle on the Hudson" airplane accident that captivated the nation in Jan. 2009. But it is actually a lot more than that. Mr. Sullenberger, with the aid of Mr. Zaslow, have written a fine autobiography about his life, the love of flying he has had since he was a young boy, and the values and life experiences that prepared him for this one-in-a-billion emergency. As Mr. Sullenberger admits, he is just a ...more
Jun 09, 2010 Michelle rated it it was amazing
Ben got this for his birthday--what a great book for a pilot! But also--what a great book for anyone!

In some ways, Ben could have written this book. In other ways, of course, he couldn't--it was a wonderful combination of the story of Capt. Sullenberger's life and the successful landing of Flight 1549 into the Hudson. It was in his review of other famous flights/crashes and the importance of safety and integrity and pilot personalities where I thought it could have been written by Ben. It made m
Feb 28, 2014 Timotgw rated it it was ok
What do you think your biography would read like? I think it would read a lot like this biography. Most of the time I was reading I would ask myself, why am I reading this. Oh yeah, it is because of the landing of the plane in the river. This event is included, but it is at the end of the book. I keep trying not to say his life isn't worth reading about, because I am sure every life has a great story to tell. I tell stories of things that have happened to me…. (imagine me trailing off to mumblin ...more
Dec 15, 2009 Jonny99 rated it liked it
Like the man, a straight-forward and likable autobiography of the first national hero since Rudy Guiliani. The ecstatic embrace of “Miracle on the Hudson” pilot Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger’s reveals much about the U.S. near the end of the first decade of this millennium. Sully’s authenticity and actual passion for doing excellent work in his chosen field starkly contrasts the gestalt at a time when Sarah Palin is considered an inspirational leader, Donald Trump the consummate entrepreneur, a ...more
May 21, 2010 Gail rated it really liked it
This is an inspiring story about a man who would be very capable in the cockpit of any plane. I would like him to be my pilot on any flight! He seems to be more at home in the air than on the ground. He knew his life would be in aviation at the age of five.

The story is really an autobiography of this disciplined and conscientious man who researches and completes anything he does with a thoroughness unlike most people. The latter part of the book describes the experience of Sully and his crew an
Jan 29, 2010 Shea rated it liked it
First of all let me just say that I LOVE Sully Sullenberger. I think he is such a great man, and a hero, even if he disagrees with that description. Having said that, I definitely enjoyed his book because it gave you insight on how he became the man he is today and how he thinks. He's a wise man and throughout the book I found myself often taking things he said to heart and treating it as if he was giving me personal advice, almost as if he were telling me this story himself. While some of the p ...more
Jan 20, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was completely impressed by the professionalism of this pilot when he landed his plane in the Hudson River, and saved every one of his passengers and crew. In appearances following this event, he seemed humble and decent. I thought that anyone would be privileged to have a pilot like this in the cockpit, and it struck me that perhaps I had been taking pilots a bit for granted in these unglamorous days of routine flight crammed into too little space with few or no amenities, and stressful, over ...more
Jun 26, 2011 Liz rated it liked it
When I was a kid, I loved flying so much that I dreamed of saving up my allowance and buying a ticket to any random airport, then turning around and flying straight back home, just for the fun of being on planes. But that excitement has changed over time, so that even as I've flown up to 70,000+ miles in a year, I've developed a (largely irrational) fear of mechanical breakdowns or human error. Now I superstitiously touch the exterior of every plane I board, cross my fingers during takeoff and d ...more
Dec 30, 2009 Billy rated it really liked it
Actually quite remarkable. Sully, in his cool-headedness and years of diligent and faithful execution of his responsibilities before the day that made him famous, is a national treasure. He shouldn't be flying planes; he should be in a Cabinet-level position (although if he ever took something like that up I'm sure every day he'd just prefer to be back in the cockpit). If only this book were doing as well as Going Rogue I'd be incredibly more pleased with the state of our political discourse. To ...more
Dec 21, 2012 Bookworm rated it liked it
I thought the book was okay. The style of writing wasn't very good--if he had a ghost writer it wasn't a good one. Overall the book really drags here and there until, of course, we get to the famous flight. It was interesting to read about how he came to flying and how it affected his flight. It was also nice to read how he had been imported with a sense of duty and doing things the right way--I would definitely like to have a pilot fly my planes.

It's also nice to see that it seems it hasn't go
Jen Noonan
Apr 13, 2016 Jen Noonan rated it it was amazing
An amazing story, really well told.
Apr 29, 2016 Megargee rated it liked it
Capt. Sullenberger’s auto biography consists of a rather shallow account of his life from the time he first got interested in aviation, a more detailed critique and commentary on current cost-reducing practices in the airline industry, and then a detailed account of his crash into the Hudson.
Among his revalations are that his salary was cut 40% and he has lost two thirds of his pension. United has not hired a new pilot or attendant in decades; all the crew on the flight were over 50. Airlines
Aug 29, 2014 Donna rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, history
This is not the story of a hero. Sullenberger does not call himself a hero. Nor does his wife. His actions were not voluntary. He did not run into a burning building to save someone.

He reacted to circumstances for which he was over-trained and over-experienced. A pilot with regular training, who had not had Air Force training on jets, 40 years of experience flying, years of study of what went wrong in airplane disasters as well as how to prevent them, and military training and discipline, would
Jerry Smith
Jun 15, 2014 Jerry Smith rated it really liked it
The story of the Hudson river flight was rightly well covered at the time and this is the story of the Captain of that flight who does seem to be the perfect man to have at the controls of your next flight! Sadly he has now retired from airline duty but this book is about his life, the life of an airline captain as well as the story of the flight itself.

It is interesting material. I am sure that there were many pilots who came up via a similar career path, but Sullenberger does seem to have had
Ellie Revert
Jan 31, 2010 Ellie Revert rated it really liked it
Excellent explanation of life as an airline pilot---and the captain on USAIR #1549, the plane that landed on the Hudson River. Many traits are reminders of so many pilots we know---and that would be especially Brent. Sully is quietly confident--not arrogant---but has enough self esteem to help him thru this incident. The same quality you would want in a surgeon. Fun to read about his homelife and learn that his wife has a few complaints similar to mine---about their lack of priorities!
Nov 04, 2009 Nicole rated it really liked it
This book was an enjoyable read, but you had to go through 200 pages until he really starts talking about flight #1549 and I found the first part of the book somewhat slow. But by the end, I liked learning about how his attention to detail and personal commitment to safety really made the difference between life and death for those 155 passengers. I also liked learning all the different meanings people placed on the whole event.
Sep 05, 2015 Anissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
I really enjoyed this book.

1. It gave an insight into an average commercial pilot's work day and life outside of work. This was something I knew little to nothing about, and I found it very interesting.

2. He was very open about himself and his life. He shared his good and not so good qualities, the challenges he'd had in his marriage, his financial difficulties.

3. I learned about the state of the airline industry. It sort of reminded me of the healthcare industry in which I work. A well train
Apr 14, 2014 Jill rated it really liked it
An inspiring story of a man who worked hard and was prepared to do the right thing when necessary. This book is less about flight 1549 and more about the experiences, education, hard work, and relationships that put Captain Sullenberger in a position to save the lives of 155 other people when he needed to. This quote from the end of the book sums it up perfectly, and is a great lesson for all of us:

"I flew thousands of flights in the last forty-two years, but my entire career is now being judged
Jan 25, 2015 Michelle rated it really liked it
Biography of the pilot who safely landed a damaged jet in the Hudson River, as we all watched live. He made two excellent points: the key to a good outcome is not just "positive thinking" about the future, but astute "situational awareness" in he present, learning all that can be learned, and taking note of all that can be observed, so that one's capacities are maximized. Secondly, the character needed to faithfully execute situational awareness in the present may not ever result in a moment of ...more
Feb 05, 2010 Sage rated it it was ok
For serious Sully fans only. I love Sully because he is a conscientious nerd. However, conscientious nerds' life stories don't make for the best books. Still, I love the Sully.
Gail Hedlund
Dec 14, 2014 Gail Hedlund rated it really liked it
Great reading. I first started to read this because I want to know about the pilot who safely landed a jet in the Hudson. It was sooo much more!
Sully reminds me a great deal of my family. My family never had much, but a lot of pride in one another & what we could do. My dad built our home place when he & Mom were first married.
I'll admit I cried a great deal reading this book, but it had little to do with his famous flight, more to do with learning what makes a man someone people respect
Pam Gray
May 06, 2013 Pam Gray rated it really liked it
Barely started but know already that James and Andy will enjoy this one!
Gaurav Rathi
Sep 14, 2014 Gaurav Rathi rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Gaurav by: None
It's undoubtedly an amazing read for the people who love to read autobiographies. The book not only restricts itself to explanation of one single incident but tries to explain how things in life, from the very beginning of our life prepares us to deal with the biggest challenge which we might face in our life. The author has very beautifully explained the importance of relationships, and how the experience and learnings from each relationship can come to our rescue at the critical times.

It's an
Elijah Lucas
May 23, 2016 Elijah Lucas rated it really liked it
Highest Duty is about an Pilot that worked for multiple airlines. The reason why I picked up this magnificent book is because I have an aspiration of being an commercial pilot.

This book was the longest book I read this semester. And this book gave me the key and everything I needed to know about being an avatior. Not only did I learn a lot of information for future occupation but the story that goes with it is was amazing. This story talks about him being little till ending his career as an her
Jun 14, 2010 Vincent rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody on earth
Recommended to Vincent by: msm
Nothing against Jeff Zaslow, who writes good stuff in the Journal, but this book is fairly crappy. The truth here is that Sully is a pretty boring and average guy - just like most of us. He has no real insight or leverage into the world unfolding around him.
Just like other pilots, he is a pretty terrible father, since he spends no time with his children and they are essentially growing up with only one parent.
To me this is especially serious given that both of his girls are adopted and will like
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Chesley Burnett "Sully" Sullenberger III is an American airline transport pilot (ATP), safety expert, and accident investigator from Danville, California,who successfully carried out the emergency ditching of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River, offshore from Manhattan, New York City, on January 15, 2009, thus saving the lives of the 155 people on the aircraft. He is an international speake ...more
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“We all have heard about ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary situations. They act courageously or responsibly, and their efforts are described as if they opted to act that way on the spur of the moment... I believe many people in those situations actually have made descisions years before.” 2 likes
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