Patrick Smith and Sourcebooks are proud to announce publication of Cockpit Confidential:
Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel. Questions, Answers, and Reflections.
Now an official New York Times bestseller!
“Brilliant is the word that applies. A book to be savored and passed to friends.”
— William Langeweische, Vanity Fair
A wry, thoughtful, and at times provocative look into the confounding world of commercial air travel, this is the ideal take-along for frequent flyers, nervous passengers, world travelers, and anybody yearning for an enlightened, behind-the-scenes look at the strange and misunderstood business of commercial aviation. More than just a book about flying, its subject is everything and everything about the grand theater of air travel, from airport architecture to terrorism to the colors and cultures of the world’s airlines.
Patrick Smith has been called the thinking man’s pilot. For the better part of a decade, his Ask the Pilot column at Salon.com was a singular and remarkable sensation: an aviation column, for heaven’s sake, that could offer up trenchant analysis of an air disaster one day, then the next day stride fearlessly into politics, culture, or even rock music, and somehow tie it all together. Cockpit Confidential features the best of that material, refreshed and adapted into a seven-chapter volume of FAQs, essays and personal memoir. Whether it’s the nuts and bolts of cockpit operation or a hilarious critique of airline logos and color schemes, Cockpit Confidential is smart, funny, and brimming with useful information.
“Nobody covers the airline experience like Patrick Smith. He brings balance and clarity to a subject all too often over-hyped. And, he’s a damned good writer.”
— Clive Irving, Condé Nast Traveler
• How planes fly, and a revealing look at the men and women who fly them
• Straight talk on turbulence, pilot training, and safety
• The real story on congestion, delays, and the dysfunction of the modern airport
• The myths and misconceptions of cabin air and cockpit automation
• Terrorism in perspective and a candid look at security
• Airfares, seating woes, and the pitfalls of airline customer service
• The colors and cultures of the airlines we love to hate
• The yin and yang of global travel
• Gratuitous references to 80s-era indie rock bands
“Cockpit Confidential is the document that belongs in the seat pocket in front of you.”
— David Pogue, New York Times correspondent and television host.
Available at booksellers everywhere…
IN THE U.S.
IN THE U.K. AND IRELAND
Now, as for that title, Cockpit Confidential….
Okay, okay, it’s cheap and derivative. But it wasn’t my idea.
All right, fine, it was my idea. Or, more specifically, it was a collaborative decision between me, my agent and the publisher. It’s a touch misleading, as the book isn’t the least bit scandalous, but I like the sound of it — the alliterative quality.
I can feel better knowing that I have Anthony Bourdain’s blessings, sort of, having ripped off his famous Kitchen Confidential. He was a passenger on one of my flights a year or so ago. I introduced myself and told him about my plans for a title. He laughed.
A WARNING ABOUT THE AUDIOBOOK:
The purchase links above include a link to the audiobook version available on iTunes. You can also buy it through Amazon and some other sources. You should know, however, that I am extremely disappointed in the quality of this product.
I had, until just the other day, never heard even a snippet of the audiobook. All along I’d been worried the narrator had done a poor job with it. Out of fear, I refused to listen. I’d had no input in the making or production of the audiobook. Sourcebooks, publisher of the paperback, had sold the audio rights to a company called Tantor Media, which went ahead and produced the thing. Tantor markets and sells through iTunes, Amazon, etc. I had no idea there was an audiobook until it was already out and I was mailed a couple of complimentary copies (which I promptly shelved, unopened). All I knew for sure, because it said so on the package, is that the book was read aloud by a guy named Dave Drummond. Who knew what Drummond sounded like? Rather than stress about it, I ignored it.
Well, last week, I finally heard him for the first time. I was staying at my friend Mike’s place near San Francisco, and Mike took the liberty, against my adamant opposition, of playing a sample for me. I protested, but he insisted. “I think you need to hear this,” he said, ominously.
He was both very right and very wrong.
Mike hit PLAY and the voice of Dave Drummond, speaking as me, filled the room. My first reaction was shock. Was this a joke? My second reaction was to resist all temptation to go and stick my head in the oven. I sat quietly as my blood went cold and the air left my lungs, looking plaintively at Mike, who was doing his best to stifle laughter.
I’m sure Dave Drummond is a swell and upstanding guy. Indeed he has a respectable “radio voice,” as they say, and there are tons of books he’d be a great reader for. But as far as my book goes, they could not in a million years have picked a worse person.
Drummond speaks in an austere, barking sort of drawl that isn’t the least bit reflective of the book’s style or content. He smothers out all of its humor and steamrolls over its energy and verve. Go hear it for yourself. Pull up the audiobook on Amazon and you can hear Drummond murdering the introduction to chapter one. This sample is supposed to encourage people to buy the thing? He sounds like a guy narrating a Korean War documentary.
The book is funny and eccentric. There are numerous music and pop-culture references, etc. The person narrating it should sound authoritative and smart, sure, but he also needs to sound younger. It should be somebody with an ironic sense of humor, and the type of person who can say the names “Joe Strummer” or “Husker Du” (chapters one and four), without making them sound surreal. Drummond is crotchety and overbearing, and the result is embarrassing both for him and, especially, for me.
The book isn’t solely informational. Parts of it are very personal, and the narrator is supposed to be a stand-in for me. I should hear myself in his voice. Instead, I hear Walter Cronkite’s constipated uncle.
You know how people sometimes say that they “feel violated”? Now I understand what that means. I won’t tell you not to buy it, but when you hear it, that isn’t me talking.