Airframe by Michael Crichton

title AIRFRAME is blurred on globe crisscrossed with flight lines Michael Crichton’s Airframe opens with a couple and their infant daughter flying back to America from on a charter flight. Nearing Los Angeles, the plane goes into convulsions.

When the shaking stops, the pilot radios for 40 ambulances to stand by. Two people are already dead.

Norton Aircraft, which built the plane, is in negotiations to sell $8 billion worth of aircraft to China. Bad publicity could kill the deal.

Casey Singleton, Quality Assurance representative on Norton’s Incident Review Team, is promoted to a VP position and assigned to manage the investigation, which normally would take a year or more. Casey is given one week to do the it. By the time she gets the assignment, the charter’s crew have already flown out.

Internal politics make Casey’s situation even more complicated. Union workers are fighting mad over  secret plans to move the company’s most profitable work off-shore. In addition, Casey has been saddled with an assistant who is related to Norton’s owners, has no relevant experience, and thinks he knows everything.

Like Crichton’s earlier bestsellers Disclosure and The Lost World, Airframe is can’t-put-down reading packed with information that you’ll remember long after you’ve forgotten the plot.

Airframe by Michael Crichton
Alfred A. Knopf. ©1996. 351 p.
1996 bestseller #4; my grade: B+

©2020 Linda G. Aragoni

Disclosure by Michael Crichton

Title and author's name are all that's disclosed on front cover
Inside the circle says, “A NOVEL.”

Michael Crichton’s novel Disclosure is not about disclosure. It’s about all kinds of deception.

Crichton sets his novel in the early 1990s in Seattle where DigiCom is developing a virtual reality device for information storage and retrieval. Tom Sanders, who has overseen the development of the Twinkle, hopes he’s up for promotion when DigiCom merges with educational publisher Conley-White, and Tom’s division is spun off into a separate company.

The day the merger is supposed to be announced, Tom learns the company is being restructured. Instead of being promoted, he will report to his ex-lover of a decade earlier, Meredith Johnson.

After a late-day meeting with Meredith, Tom finds himself accused of sexual harassment. He hires a lawyer and fights back, claiming that Meredith was the harasser.

Thus, Crichton sets up a story about sexual harassment with a male as the victim. For readers today, the edge is off that story.

What’s interesting today is what has not changed in those 30-plus years in employment law:  societal attitudes about women’s roles, the number of women in executive positions, the world of high technology manufacturing. Crichton’s observation remains true today:

“We all live every day in virtual environments, defined by our ideas.”

Disclosure by Michael Crichton
Alfred A. Knopf ©1993. 397 p.
1994 bestseller #10; my grade: B+

©2020 Linda G. Aragoni

Never Victorious, Never Defeated Is Vintage Taylor Caldwell

cover of Never Victorious, Never Defeated (1954)Never Victorious, Never Defeated is a typical Taylor Caldwell novel: a good yarn with vivid characters against a backdrop of political and spiritual decay.

The setting is Pennsylvania during the years when America, aided by immigrants fleeing certain starvation in Europe for the mirage of banqueting in America, changed from an agricultural to an industrial nation.

Greedy men are vying for wealth: They must have markets for their goods.

Cornelia Marshall, granddaughter of a railroad entrepreneur Aaron deWitt, uses her brain and cunning to achieve power and wealth.

Like her father before her and greedy men around her, Cornelia is amoral, willing to use or destroy anyone who stands in her way, including her siblings, her husband, her children.

A few patriots and saints — including Cornelia’s brother-in-law and son — see the destructive force at work in the world and attempt to counter it.

They see American society being undermined by the rise of cities, the cultivation of war as a business tool, the growth of central government, the disappearance of moral teaching.

Nevertheless, they believe eventually men of good will and common sense will defeat evil at the ballot box.

Whether their optimism is valid remains to be seen.

Read Never Victorious, Never Defeated and draw your own conclusions.

Never Victorious, Never Defeated
by Taylor Caldwell
Mc-Graw Hill, 1954
549 pages
#9 on the 1954 bestseller list
My grade: B

© 2014 Linda Gorton Aragoni