Monday, February 17, 2020

Book Review: 'Gone' by O.J. Modjeska

Gone: Catastrophe in Paradise

Australian author OJ Modjeska is also a criminologist and historian in addition to writing in several formats, offering insights into history, criminal behavior and psychology. She graduated from the University of Sydney with a PhD in Modern American History in 2004, and received her Graduate Diploma in Criminology from Sydney Law School in 2015. In 2015 she was awarded the JH McClemens Memorial Prize by Sydney Law School for her scholarship in criminology. Before pursuing a writing career she worked for many years as a legal writer and editor.

The author offers a Preface that places us in the midst of the historical event – ‘Forty years ago, on the afternoon of 27 March 1977, a mass of American and European tourists descended on a tropical paradise for the holiday of a lifetime. Within hours, hundreds were dead. The events described in this book are well known to people inside the aviation community. The Tenerife airport disaster was, and remains, the deadliest airplane accident in history. The twin towers disaster of 2001 incurred a greater loss of life, but because that event was the result of deliberate sabotage, it has never been classed as an “accident”. The death toll of the Tenerife tragedy, 583 people, thus still stands as the worst on record in terms of aviation mishaps.

The compelling novella is a true story, the essence of which is summarized as ‘A mass of European and American tourists descend on an idyllic tropical island for the holiday of a lifetime. Within hours, hundreds are dead. What happened? The true story of one of history's most tragic and shocking which aviation, terrorism, a sudden change in the weather and plain old bad luck made for a ruinous mix.’

OJ turns this moment in history into completely present reality in the fine manner in which she explains the tragedy and in doing so she unveils many of the mysteries of the events that seem to be occurring with greater frequency in our present world. This is a very important book on many levels – history and psychology blend in a transformative fashion. Grady Harp, June 17

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.