[dropcap]An [/dropcap]exceptional 2010 book by Gary Collins, author of The Last Beothuk (2017), Desperation: The Queen of Swansea (2016), Left to Die (2014), and several others (all titles Flanker Press). Mr. Collins is a master storyteller and combined with his fastidious fact-checking, his books make for some of the best historical fiction accounts anywhere. However, with Where Eagles Lie Fallen we have a book based on actual events: the fatal crash of Arrow Air Flight 1285 on December 12th, 1985 killing all on board, most notably men and women of the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army and the events of September 11, 2001 that led to the U.S. shutting down their airspace, forcing a multitude of planes to land in Gander, Newfoundland.
The facts of each of these events are well-known, and Mr. Collins does not overly dwell on them nor on the controversies that dog them to this day. Instead, he takes us to places and incidents surrounding the two historic events so that we are drawn toward the people involved, whether they be the actual men and women who perished that day or their parents back in the U.S. or the residents of Gander, who are no stranger to plane crashes around their airport (but none such as this before).
The story that fascinated me the most, and one that cohesively binds the two incidents together, is that of Melina, the mother of Michael who died in the Arrow Air disaster. It proves the adage that “truth is stranger than fiction.”
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”Gary Collins” link=”” color=”#555F7F” class=”” size=””]When I was alone, the feelings of being unworthy to record such an event crowded my thoughts again. Had I done justice to the sad story? Did I express with accuracy in the pages of my work the feelings of those I had interviewed? Was the tale told well enough for those who could not speak for themselves, the truly silent witnesses of the Gander tragedy?[/perfectpullquote]
I would give a resounding “yes” to all those questions. Where Eagles Lie Fallen is an enlightening, engrossing and fascinating work of non-fiction told in Mr. Collin’s trademark warm, storytelling style. Recommended.
Where Eagles Lie Fallen: The Crash of Arrow Air Flight 1285, Gander, Newfoundland by Gary Collins
James M. Fisher is the owner and editor-in-chief of The Miramichi Reader. He began TMR in 2015, realizing that there was a genuine need for more book reviews of Canadian literature. It has since become Canada’s best-regarded source for the finest in new literary releases. James has been interviewed about TMR on CBC Radio and other media sites. James works as a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologist and lives in Miramichi, New Brunswick with his wife Diane and their tabby cat Eddie.