3 out of 4 stars
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Humans have always looked to the heavens searching for answers that often might be found on good old Earth. Getting the opportunity to fly one of those massive iron-winged birds is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity not available to everyone. For "JT," a young black man born and raised in the segregation era of America, the dream has always been to fly in a plane and one day pilot a plane across the vast expanse of the American airspace. He braves the racial abuse and diversity associated with being a black man in a white-dominated theater of operation and the demons that plague him about the moral justification for participating in an "unjust" war, all in a bid to achieve his lifelong dream. This is his story.
James T. Hollin, Jr. delivers an intimate rendition of his life's story in this book. With Spirituality, Racism, and the Phantom: The Mystique Of The Skies, As Heaven Or Hell, he talks about his early years as a child growing up in a poor neighborhood and the struggles his family had to go through to secure a better future for him and his siblings. All through the book, his unwavering faith and gratitude to the Almighty for keeping him through it all is amply displayed.
I am impressed with the wording used in putting the book together. The language is a mixture of everyday English and the technical jargon associated with the aviation industry. The author has gone as far as defining every aviation term he uses in the book. There is no better way to carry the reader along than this. The attention to detail in each of his encounters is impressive. They are articulately described in such vivid detail that one can be forgiven for thinking they are living the author's life. His stories about his experiences in Vietnam have many heart-in-the-mouth moments for the reader. Having to cope with a captain who refused to speak directly to him in the cockpit of a plane they shared spoke volumes of the nature of racism and abuse black pilots endured back in the day.
In a classic case of "a gift and a curse," the intense detailing didn't go down well with me all through the book. There were sections in the book's latter stages where I felt the author could have dispensed with the extensive detailing and summarized his experience. At those times, the reading became tiring; it was an arduous task to get past those sections of the book. Inpatient readers would likely terminate their reading journey at that point. Even the patient ones would lose the excitement built up at the early stages. I deducted one star from the rating as a result. So, I’d rate it 3 out of 4 stars.
History buffs will be interested in the information available in this book. It contains details of historical events you will not find in textbooks. Some texts promote the author's religious inclination. If you're sensitive to the slightest leaning of a book to a particular religion, then you should take a pass. Finally, the editing is okay, as there are only a few errors.
Spirituality, Racism, and the Phantom
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