In Full Flight: Book summary and reviews of In Full Flight by John Heminway

In Full Flight

A Story of Africa and Atonement

by John Heminway

In Full Flight by John Heminway X
In Full Flight by John Heminway
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2018
    336 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

The remarkable story of one woman's search for a new life in Africa in the wake of World War II - a life that sparked a heroic career, but also hid a secret past.

Dr. Anne Spoerry treated hundreds of thousands of people across rural Kenya over the span of fifty years. A member of the renowned Flying Doctors Service, the French-born Spoerry learned how to fly a plane at the age of forty-five and earned herself the cherished nickname, "Mama Daktari" - "Mother Doctor" - from the people of Kenya. Yet few knew what drove her from post-World War II Europe to Africa. Now, in the first comprehensive account of her life, Dr. Spoerry's revered selflessness gives way to a past marked by rebellion, submission, and personal decisions that earned her another nickname - this one sinister - working as a "doctor" in a Nazi concentration camp.

In Full Flight explores the question of whether it is possible to rewrite one's troubled past simply by doing good in the present. Informed by Spoerry's own journals, a trove of previously untapped files, and numerous interviews with those who knew her in Europe or Africa, John Heminway takes readers on a remarkable journey across a haunting African landscape and into a dramatic life punctuated by both courage and weakness and driven by a powerful need to atone.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Incredible… An exceptionally compelling contemplation on life's meaning, the nature of humanity, and whether atonement is achievable…the primary pleasure of this book is Heminway's interrogations of his own motives as well as Spoerry's." - Booklist

"Vivid, often riveting... Heminway captures his subject's staggeringly complex past as well as the vitality of the continent that became her home in this unflinching and evocative work." - Publishers Weekly

"[In Full Flight] is an important work that is sure to provoke discussion about wartime choices, moral courage, and whether it is possible to make amends." - Library Journal

"A fascinating story in an occasionally frustrating recounting." - Kirkus

"No one I know has a more spiritual understanding of Africa than John Heminway, and in In Full Flight you are taken into the soul of the continent in a way that will astonish, inspire, and linger. It is a literary safari of the highest order." - Tom Brokaw

"A book that movingly celebrates the indomitable human spirit... John Heminway has turned his remarkable investigative skills to unraveling the incredible history of Africa's famed Dr. Anne Spoerry. Reading more like a novel than a biography, In Full Flight paints a portrait of a courageous woman, haunted by a dark past, who looks to Africa to heal." - Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE, and Founder of The Jane Goodall Institute

"An amazing illustration of how complicated a human life can be. Anne Spoerry, the subject of this almost unbelievable tale, was a woman of incredible self-discipline. Most of her friends, myself included, never really knew much about her to the end. An extraordinary, well-written story." - Dr. Richard Leakey

"John Heminway's In Full Flight left me quite literally stunned, not only by the story itself, of a woman whose journey took her from the heart of Nazi darkness to broad, sunlit uplands of Africa, but also by the author's extraordinary journalistic gifts. A book to chill and warm the human heart." - Christopher Buckley

"In Full Flight proves once again that true stories are the best. No novelist could invent a more intriguing, haunted heroine than Dr. Anne Spoerry - or a life that would take her from disgrace in a Nazi concentration camp to redemption on the wild plains of Africa. John Heminway is an exceptional journalist who also happens to be a thoughtful and compelling writer." - Carl Hiaasen

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Author Information

John Heminway

John Heminway is an author and award-winning filmmaker who has produced and written more than 200 documentaries on subjects as varied as travel, brain science, evolution, and natural history. He has won two Emmys, two Peabody Awards, and a duPont-Columbia Award. Most recently, he is known for his exposés of the illicit ivory trade. In Full Flight is his sixth book. Heminway lives in Montana.

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