In Full Flight
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.

In Full Flight Details

TitleIn Full Flight
Author
ReleaseFeb 13th, 2018
PublisherKnopf Publishing Group
ISBN-139781524732974
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Biography, Cultural, Africa, War, Autobiography, Memoir, History

In Full Flight Review

  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    Holy cow...I can't wait for this book to be released in February because it WILL be a book club selection. And we'd better plan a slumber party for the discussion because it'll take longer than 3 hours to chew this one satisfactorily. The big question is this: if a person under unimaginable circumstances is fatally harmful to others who are helpless, but then spends the next 50 years saving and enriching lives of equally hopeless people, is it atonement? Does it balance out? Do horrifically bad Holy cow...I can't wait for this book to be released in February because it WILL be a book club selection. And we'd better plan a slumber party for the discussion because it'll take longer than 3 hours to chew this one satisfactorily. The big question is this: if a person under unimaginable circumstances is fatally harmful to others who are helpless, but then spends the next 50 years saving and enriching lives of equally hopeless people, is it atonement? Does it balance out? Do horrifically bad choices in one chapter of life render the subsequent years of decency and humanitarian work null and void? Brilliantly written, John Heminway not only knew Anne Spoerry personally, but also took years of interviews, research, reading journals, visiting places of significance to the story...her story is told in a voice that is not unkind, but doesn't make excuses. It's incredibly balanced and leaves the reader with no obvious conclusions. My husband got ahold of the ARC while I was finishing another, then hounded me until I finished THIS book so that we could discuss it. He's not a big reader, but finished this book in a day and a half. It is impossible to walk away from. And once read, it begs to be shared and discussed over a couple glasses of wine. I think this is the best book I've read all year, and that's saying something because it's also the 100th book I read this year. It's not a nice story, but it's an amazing story. I'll be thinking of this for a long, long time...
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  • M.
    January 1, 1970
    An interesting story and a good read!
  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    In Full Flight, by John Heminway, tells the story of Anne Spoerry, the flying doctor of Africa. I knew nothing of Anne’s history so this was an interesting read for me. Anne is both admirable for all the work she did in Africa, but at the same time difficult to like due to her personality. Spoerry is definitely a woman on a mission to set things right in Africa, following her time in the Ravensbruck concentration camp. The number of lives she saves and care she provides across Kenya is staggerin In Full Flight, by John Heminway, tells the story of Anne Spoerry, the flying doctor of Africa. I knew nothing of Anne’s history so this was an interesting read for me. Anne is both admirable for all the work she did in Africa, but at the same time difficult to like due to her personality. Spoerry is definitely a woman on a mission to set things right in Africa, following her time in the Ravensbruck concentration camp. The number of lives she saves and care she provides across Kenya is staggering. The author’s dive into her time with Carmen Mory both seems to draw attention away from Spoerry as well as provide explanation for what could be the driving force behind her life choices. While told like a story, it does have a tendency to jump between time periods, leaving you to recall where the story left off in a different time period. Heminway clearly has a tremendous amount of respect for Spoerry and makes an effort of telling an unvarnished story of her life and leaving it to the reader to form their own opinions about her attempts at redemption.
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  • Angie
    January 1, 1970
    Heminway's book gave me the remarkable experience of rooting for the subject of a biography even as the author berates her. There are balanced biographies of complicated people, and there are way too simple biographies written by fans of their subjects. But Heminway clearly feels deeply betrayed, in a very personal way, by the secret that Anne Spoerry managed to keep from him and most of the rest of the world. He describes himself as her friend -- a characterization that is almost laughable as h Heminway's book gave me the remarkable experience of rooting for the subject of a biography even as the author berates her. There are balanced biographies of complicated people, and there are way too simple biographies written by fans of their subjects. But Heminway clearly feels deeply betrayed, in a very personal way, by the secret that Anne Spoerry managed to keep from him and most of the rest of the world. He describes himself as her friend -- a characterization that is almost laughable as he describes this intensely private woman and her selective relationships -- and his mistaken assumption through decades that she was hiding suffering rather than wrongdoing at a concentration camp during WWII. Most of the book is not, in fact, about her 50 years in Kenya, flying her plane to remote villages and medically treating the sick and wounded. It is mostly a detailed account of the extensive research he did to uncover the truth of her role in Ravensbrück, the background, the context. He gives an almost impossibly detailed account of 3 months of her life there under the influence of another prisoner, with whom she appeared to be infatuated. The times he does describe in Kenya consist mostly of him following her around, listening to her stories (a "distraction", in his evaluation, and he does not share many of these stories she told with us), inevitably leading up to his bringing the concentration camp up and her clamming up. By the last interview he describes with her, following the pattern to a tee, I rolled my eyes at him.So what are we to make of this remarkable book, which did not at all convince me of the author's point of view? The book begins and ends with Anne's funeral, at which many people of very different backgrounds hail her. He focuses on her declining health, her horrifying missteps in WWII, her uselessness running with the country club set in her early days in Kenya. He's out to take her down, and despite all his efforts, I found her delightful. I had not heard of Anne Spoerry before, and she was not a saint, but a complicated human being who decided not to show some aspects of her personality to journalists (she seems bent on appearing hard and professional to him) and to others in her life. I think one problem with my experience of this book is that Heminway was so very familiar with Spoerry's outsized heroic reputation in Kenya that he sought to provide a counterweight to it. But I was unfamiliar with her before reading the book, and am not aware of the entire context he's pushing back against, so the effort came off as a bit ridiculous to me, as if I were watching a one-sided boxing match.I'm sure this book will engender quite a bit of discussion. I do wish it was written with a bit more even hand, by someone who was not so inexplicably personally invested. I recommend it on the sheer power of the story and subject matter.I got a copy to review from First to Read.
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  • Holly Barker
    January 1, 1970
    This extraordinary nonfiction story reads like a thriller, moving back and forth between Dr Anne Spoerry's life in Africa and her earlier years in Europe. We are first told about her feats or heroism in Africa, bringing medical care to people over nearly 50 years who would otherwise likely have had none. Then, we learn of her background in Europe and what occurred while she was imprisoned in Ravenbruck concentration camp, suggesting the possibility of her Africa years as representing redemption This extraordinary nonfiction story reads like a thriller, moving back and forth between Dr Anne Spoerry's life in Africa and her earlier years in Europe. We are first told about her feats or heroism in Africa, bringing medical care to people over nearly 50 years who would otherwise likely have had none. Then, we learn of her background in Europe and what occurred while she was imprisoned in Ravenbruck concentration camp, suggesting the possibility of her Africa years as representing redemption and penance. This book is so well crafted, I was riveted to the page, wanting to know what had happened to get Anne to the life I'd already learned she had. It brings up many questions and levels of understanding about people, including the complexity of human beings and the possibility of being pushed into actions out of desperation. This book clearly shows that none of us is just one thing and judging others by one aspect loses the greater story. I am left unsettled by this book but thought it was fantastic.
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  • Jane
    January 1, 1970
    Wow, what a story! Heminway does an ace job setting out the life of his friend, Dr. Anne Spoerry, heroine of the African Flying Doctors for fifty years -and oh, by the way, a convicted war criminal who murdered hundreds of women in Ravensbruck concentration camp during WW2. Judge for yourself - did Spoerry run away and escape punishment? Or did she impose her own harsh sentence?I like what Teddy Roosevelt says on the subject, quoted in the book:“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who p Wow, what a story! Heminway does an ace job setting out the life of his friend, Dr. Anne Spoerry, heroine of the African Flying Doctors for fifty years -and oh, by the way, a convicted war criminal who murdered hundreds of women in Ravensbruck concentration camp during WW2. Judge for yourself - did Spoerry run away and escape punishment? Or did she impose her own harsh sentence?I like what Teddy Roosevelt says on the subject, quoted in the book:“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions."
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  • Ann
    January 1, 1970
    John Heminway has written a comprehensive biography of Dr. Anne Spoerry affectionately known as Mama Daktari. However, this is not a simple retelling of Anne’s pastoral life in Africa. It turns out In Full Flight not only refers to the fact she was a flying doctor but also to the fact that she fled from Europe after WWII. Heminway slowly unfolds the circumstances under which she left which ultimately gives even more value to her work in Africa. I foresee this being a big hit with the book club c John Heminway has written a comprehensive biography of Dr. Anne Spoerry affectionately known as Mama Daktari. However, this is not a simple retelling of Anne’s pastoral life in Africa. It turns out In Full Flight not only refers to the fact she was a flying doctor but also to the fact that she fled from Europe after WWII. Heminway slowly unfolds the circumstances under which she left which ultimately gives even more value to her work in Africa. I foresee this being a big hit with the book club crowd as there are many deep issues to discuss. In Full Flight is a great read that will also leave you thinking.
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  • Lindy
    January 1, 1970
    I have a feeling this is a book that will stay with me for a long time. It’s been on my mind all day. Honestly, I still don’t know how I feel about Dr. Anne Spoerry.I was impressed at how well the author was able to present this biography, since he and Anne were friends for 20 years. I felt he didn’t paint her as either a saint or devil, leaving people to come to their own conclusion. It was well written and researched.
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  • Nissa
    January 1, 1970
    An interesting and inspiring true story about someone I had never heard of before. Glad that this book gave a voice to a heroic woman who history has rarely mentioned. This was an engaging and well-researched book. Highly recommended. *I received a free digital copy of this book from First to Read and Penguin Random House Publishing. Thanks!
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  • Anne
    January 1, 1970
    Remarkable story.
  • Susan Baker
    January 1, 1970
    Intriguing bookThis books makes one ponder the complexity of good and evil in all of us. An intriguing, and illuminating read.
  • Alicia
    January 1, 1970
    This will be an excellent book club pick, with so much to discuss. Can later actions clear one of earlier evils? I read it early, as an ARC through the Penguin First to Read program.
  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    Digital galley expired . . . waiting on library book.
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