Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking” as Want to Read:
The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  3,253 ratings  ·  476 reviews
In an America torn apart by the Vietnam War and the demise of sixties idealism, airplane hijackings were astonishingly routine. Over a five-year period starting in 1968, the desperate and disillusioned seized commercial jets nearly once a week, using guns, bombs, and jars of acid. Some hijackers wished to escape to foreign lands, where they imagined being hailed as heroes; ...more
Hardcover, 318 pages
Published June 18th 2013 by Crown
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Skies Belong to Us, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Skies Belong to Us

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,253 ratings  ·  476 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking
Brendan Koerner
Jan 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
A man should take pride in his work.
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Brendan Koerner has just written one of the most fascinating books I've read in a long time. The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking (Crown, 2013) recounts some of the more memorable US hijackings between 1961 and 1972. Hijacking became a real problem starting in 1967, culminating in a tumultuous year in 1972 when almost 100 US airliners were highjacked, sometimes two in one day.

But the main story of Koerner's book is that of traumatized Vietnam vet, Roger Holder,
"I want $200,000 in unmarked 20-dollar bills. I want two back parachutes and two front parachutes. When we land, I want a fuel truck ready to refuel. No funny stuff or I’ll do the job.” D. B. Cooper

In the 1960's and 1970's, epidemic plane hijackings were an American spectator sport and the plane hijackers became folk heroes. Case in point was “ D. B. Cooper,” an unidentified man who hijacked a Boeing 727 aircraft in the airspace between Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, on November 24
Alan Cohen
Jul 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Read it in ~ 3 days sort of like a non-stop versus a layover with connecting flights. If I didn't have to go to work, well, a lot of books would get read a lot quicker!
[As a passenger in ]one of the hijacked planes of that era, I had special interest in the subject . Yes, , 1968, Dec. Phila. to Miami for Christmas vacation detoured to Havana, bussed to the coastal town of Verdero(sp), and flown back to Miami on turbo prop planes , I can vouch for the accuracy of
Sep 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I don't know about the rest of my fellow Americans, but the only hijackings I'm familiar with are the really big ones, like D.B. Cooper. I was complete unaware that hijackings were a "thing" throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. I mean, seriously a thing, like people accepted it as a normal part of air travel, that your plane might get hijacked and flown to Cuba and you might miss a day or two out of your life. It's absolutely mind boggling to think about.

Koerner does an excellent job of interwe
Darcia Helle
This book fascinated me from beginning to end. While the focus is on Roger Holder's convoluted and oddly successful plan to skyjack a plane with his lover Cathy Kerkow, the story told is broad and full of wacky, real life characters. As the US stumbled out of Vietnam, the political and social climates were rife with damaged servicemen and angry citizens seeking ways to make a stand. Skyjacking became the perfect outlet for a staggering number of these people.

While the events in this book are on
Aug 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
A riveting read about the skyjacking epidemic of the late 60's and early 70's focusing on the personal stories of Roger Holder and Kathy Kerkow - the Bonnie and Clyde of the skies. The outrageous personal stories of domestic hijackers is fascinating in itself, but what's more incredible is how a study of the subject of hijacking and how it was handled by the government and the airlines highlights the stark contrast between the respect of individual civil liberties in the 1970's and the shockingl ...more
Nick Black
should have been longer, and there's rather more omniscient narration than the sourced materials justify. with that said, lots of fun. remember, kids: it's better to collect experiences than things, but a good hijacking can be both.
Mar 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-history
Who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?
– Chico Marx, “Duck Soup” (1933)

This is a very enjoyable audiobook with a sprawling and complex story. I'm going to write about only one facet of it.

Opposing political viewpoints champion different narratives about how the world works. This book and Foolproof by Greg Ip, which I listened to consecutively, are two recently-issued examples of conflicting narrative. The topic getting the ideological narrative makeover is, in this case, aviation safety,
Chris Blocker
Apr 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
I don't read much non-fiction. When I do, it's often for research. Every once in a while I pick up a non-fiction book that looks interesting to me and give it a read. And more often than not I find myself engrossed in the story. Probably I should see this as a sign that I need to read more of these stories. Enter The Skies Belong to Us.

The cover, the promise of love and hijacking, these are the things that first attracted me to The Skies Belong to Us. More than any other type of narrative non-fi
Hank Stuever
Jun 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was hooked by Dwight Garner's NYT review of this book and by gosh, he was right. I do think there's something slightly off about the way "The Skies Belong to Us" is structured and organized, but the material is just so jaw-dropping, starting and ending with the seemingly boundless tolerance American society once had for skyjacking, 30 years before 9/11. Two or three skyjackings during some weeks in the early '70s! No carry-on screenings! No ID checks! No boarding passes! (If the final season o ...more
It's only February and yet I think I found my first favorite book of the year. I'm just glad I didn't have to wait so long this time around! This book was an eye-opening look at air travel in what was purported to be coined "the Golden Age of Hijacking." Keep in mind I had thought (before reading this) that the rash of commandeering aircraft started in the 1980's with such terrorists as the Libyans (I'm old enough to actually remember that). Needless to say, I couldn't have been more wrong!

Fascinating and completely bonkers. This is the story of the longest-distance hijacking in American history, accomplished by a disillusioned veteran and a teenage girl. The author weaves in accounts of other hijackings during that time period. I had no idea that hijackings (particularly to Cuba) were happening an average of once per week in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and sometimes there were two U.S.-based hijackings in a day. A lot of people back then thought that it was just the cost of d ...more
Sarah D Bunting
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wish I could go 4.5 (some overwriting) but really a ripping narrative. Listen to The Blotter Presents 081 for more!
John Nelson
Jun 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In the end, Brendan Koerner’s The Skies Belong to Us, is about character.

I’m not old enough to remember the plague of airline hijackings that took place in and around American airspace during the hippie era, but I do remember laughing with my mom through a television rerun of The Out of Towners, a 1970 Jack Lemmon comedy. In it, everything that can go wrong for two hapless New York tourists does, and despite the appearance of a happy ending, the two find themselves on a hijacked plane just befor
Jay Hinman
Apr 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Any consciousness I had of the daily world of grown-up news starting flickering on around 1974 or so, right when “the golden age of hijacking” was winding down. I do remember the term skyjacking, which is something that I associated with the Palestine Liberation Organization, and something I also assumed before reading this book occurred perhaps 10, 15 times in total during the 1960s and 1970s. Uh, no. Airplane hijackings were so common during the years 1968-1973 that the rate was actually nearl ...more
Jul 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
So great, this book, for so many reasons. In The Skies Belong to Us journalist Brendan I Koerner takes us back to the "golden age of hijacking", a period of about five years in the late '60s, early '70s when, astonishingly, on average a commercial airplane was skyjacked (in the preferred tabloid parlance) in American air space once every WEEK. And the airlines refused to institute any sort of security measures at the airport during most of this time! Because 1. it'd be enormously expensive and t ...more
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
The Skies Belong to Us by Brendan I. Koerner is time trip back to when hijacking was so common that people were not surprised when they heard about yet another one. This period was between 1961 and 1972. I wanted to read this book because I had friend whose plane from Beirut, Lebanon was hijacked. He wrote me of the nervous hours waiting to find out if he was going to live or die.

Brendan I. Koerner limited his review of hijacking to only the ones that started in the U.S. and centered on one tha
Sep 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
From 1968-1973, hijacking, once a largely anomalous and relatively peaceful act, grew into an epidemic of such proportions that weekly hijackings became the norm. In The Skies Belong to Us, Brendan I. Koerner traces the history of skyjacking from an act of rebellion rooted in the mystique of Cuba into a wildly successful and life-threatening act of piracy that was seemingly unstoppable due to the airlines collective intractability over the necessity of airport security screening procedures.

Leana M
Sep 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
I give 4.5 stars for well presented, well researched, unbiased & entertaining way of executing nonfiction. Pleasantly surprised, this book was very enlightening as it presented an era that I had little knowledge about. Having been a very young child during the early 70's, just when this politically charged mood was coming to its final sizzle, I was not aware of the circumstances that played such a big part of American history. I gained a good deal of understanding for the realities of those dark ...more
Jaclyn Day
Sep 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is masterful, fascinating nonfiction. My favorite nonfiction has the ability to pique my extreme interest in topics that could, in theory, be covered in a few Wikipedia paragraphs. Here, though, is book-length coverage of a topic—with all the dates, historical facts, cultural background and other necessities that nonfiction requires—all expertly woven into a plot that feels almost like fiction. Koerner covers the Golden Age of Hijacking (a 5-year period starting in 1968) in which an America ...more
John Pappas
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Thrilling and compelling, Koerner's tale of Roger Holder and Cathy Kerkow's skyjacking of Western Airlines' Flight 701 is an extremely well-researched and documented examination of the 5-10 year period in American history when skyjackings became an almost weekly event. Between the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, Vietnam vets suffering from PTSD, members of radical groups, disgruntled or estranged husbands and the mentally ill managed to hijack over 150 planes from US airspace to various locations ...more
Jun 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
"The Golden Age of Hijacking" is a curious subtitle for a book. During a 5 year period from the late sixties to early seventies hundreds of airliners were hijacked with passengers and crew held hostage. Fortunately, back in those days the most common motive was to escape the United States , often to land in Cuba or Algeria. And to obtain cash. Oodles of it. Eldridge Cleaver and the International Department of the Black Panthers were domiciled in Algiers after an earlier successful hijacking, run ...more
Jan 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
"The Skies Belong to Us" had all the qualities of an excellent True Crime book. It was an interesting topic, well researched and written. The "golden age of skyjacking" is a little remembered event in our nation's history and Koerner expertly weaves together the overall story of the trend and the effect it had on sky travel and security while also taking a close look at one of the most fascinating cases. In the last 10 pages the writing switches from 3rd person to 1st and you fully appreciate th ...more
May 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book i probably never would have picked up, and absolutely loved. Although i was old enough to remember, and often flew, i don't have any clear memory of the spate, epidemic really, of skyjackings that happened in the 60s and 70s before we had to submit to body searches to fly anywhere. This is an almost unbelievable tale of two very young people who almost accidentally fall into one of the most amazing stories of those decades. Included are elements of the Vietnam travesty, institutional and ...more
I honestly had no idea that skyjacking was a thing in the 1960s and 1970s. I'd heard of Dan (or D. B.) Cooper, but that was literally it until this book.

The parts that kept me interested were the small snapshots of other skyjackings and how airport security measures came to be in response to them. The actual skyjacking that this book is mostly about didn't intrigue me as much, and I think it would have been better dealt with in a long essay, rather than in a book.

The author also has the tendenc
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
WHAAAAAAATTTTTT. This story is bananas. I was completely unaware that this history of skyjacking epidemics even existed, let alone how complicit the airlines were in allowing it to continue for as long as it did. (The parallels between the airlines' resistance to security measures and the gun lobby's general assholery are obvious and striking.) I was so completely captivated by this story that I almost gave the book 5 stars, but ultimately didn't because, honestly, the author's writing style got ...more
Graham Polando
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Really great; had a hard time putting it down. Koerner does a very nice job of telling both the broad story of American hijacking and the unique individual story one of Willie Holder and Cathy Kerkow. This is what crime reporting should be--an intelligent, well-researched treatment of an undersold topic. The writing is solid--not literary, but works well within the service of the story. Very highly recommended.
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
This book is a sleeper hit. FANTASTIC book. As a child of the 80s I had NO idea that so much aviation hijacking happened through the 60s and 70s!

The author is brilliant in his unfolding of this crazy time period and his focusing on Roger Holder and his girlfriends successful hijacking in 1973. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking to understand these decades better, the political landscape of the time and this immensely entertaining retelling of so much CRAZY drama:)
Kevin Wong
Aug 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredible –  Koerner tells this story in a way that is breathtakingly engrossing, and while the narrative parallels a mass-market best seller in its page-turning pace, the literary quality is anything but. The prose is beautifully crafted, and every fact is thoroughly researched, as belied by the extensive set of footnotes. If you have even a passing interest in aviation, you must read this book.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Norco '80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History
  • The Mirage
  • The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science
  • Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin
  • Mr. Breakfast
  • Światy równoległe. Czego uczą nas płaskoziemcy, homeopaci i różdżkarze
  • La casa del dolor ajeno
  • Shadow Box
  • Płuczki. Poszukiwacze żydowskiego złota
  • 27 śmierci Toby'ego Obeda
  • W królestwie monszatana. GMO, gluten i szczepionki
  • Z miłości? To współczuję. Opowieści z Omanu
  • Point B
  • Urobieni. Reportaże o pracy
  • MBS: The Rise to Power of Mohammed bin Salman
  • Stramer
  • Nie ma
  • Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
See similar books…
Brendan I. Koerner is a contributing editor at Wired and the author of The Skies Belong to Us and Now the Hell Will Start, the latter of which he is currently adapting for filmmaker Spike Lee. A former columnist for both The New York Times and Slate who was named one of Columbia Journalism Review’s “Ten Young Writers on the Rise,” he has also written for Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, ESPN ...more

News & Interviews

Dragons, demons, kings, queens, and the occasional farm boy (with a special destiny, of course): Fantasy literature has it all! To celebrate ou...
137 likes · 46 comments
“How far can the airlines go?” replied a clearly irritated TWA spokesman when asked whether his employer planned to make any changes to its boarding procedures. “Restrict everyone from the terminal except those who have a ticket? Stop everyone from entering the airport area except those who” 1 likes
“PRIOR TO THE spring of 1961, there had never been a hijacking in American airspace.” 1 likes
More quotes…