Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs at http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/
Terry has been reading Warnings Unheeded: Twin Tragedies At Fairchild Air Force Base by Andy Brown
WARNINGS UNHEEDED by Andy Brown
4 out of 5 stars
I’ll start by saying that this book is a terrific achievement by the author. The painstaking and intricate work that has clearly gone into it is to be admired, as is its purpose.
The ‘warnings unheeded’ of the title refer to two mass-casualty accidents that occurred within days of each other on a US air base. “Using the words of the people who experienced the tragedies, the book provides an in-depth look at the before, during and after of a preventable “active shooter” incident and an avoidable fatal plane crash.” A shooter terrorised the base hospital, and, in a parallel account, a veteran pilot, known for his reckless flying put the lives of both his crew and spectators at risk.
Andy Brown was the hero who ended the hospital killing spree, and intersperses chapters about the build up of fears about Mellberg and Holland with information about his own life and what led him to the position by which he was able to act as he did. He also writes about the aftermath of the shootings, and PTSD.
I found shooter Mellberg’s story the most interesting, and read almost open-mouthed that the people who could take action did not appear to see that he was a tragedy waiting to happen, with the professionals who predicted this swamped by bureaucracy. Most chilling was Dr Brigham’s instruction to his wife to keep firearms in the house, because he recognised the sort of patient who would see those who helped him as friends, though could just as easily turn on them. Although non-fiction, the character of Mellberg, in particular, came across most clearly. The book is well-written throughout, and the amount of planning that has gone into it is apparent. For a non-military person (with no particular interest in or experience of the military), I thought that the factual detail was clear and well-explained, though sometimes too detailed, adding facts (and many initials, military terms and the explanations of) that were perhaps not necessary to the story for a layman’s point of view, and made one glaze over a little. However, for its target audience, I imagine such detail will be admired.
For that target audience, I would say that this should probably be required reading.
The true story of two separate mass-casualty incidents that occurred within days of each other at a US Air Force base. Using the words of the people who experienced the tragedies, the book provides an in-depth look at the before, during and after of a preventable “active shooter” incident and an avoidable fatal plane crash.
In one tragic week at Fairchild Air Force Base, an “active shooter” terrorized the base hospital and a talented but reckless pilot crashed a B-52 bomber near the flight line. Both fatal tragedies had been repeatedly predicted by numerous airmen and mental health professionals.
In “vivid and thoroughly researched detail” Warnings Unheeded delivers an unprecedented, revealing look at the events that led to the twin tragedies.
The book follows an “active shooter” as he progresses toward his crime and dispels the myth that these incidents are random acts of violence committed without warning by otherwise normal individuals.
In a parallel account, Warnings Unheeded tells the story of a veteran pilot who was known for exceeding the maneuvering limits of his B-52 bomber. His reckless flying not only put the lives of his crew at risk, but also the lives of the air show spectators who gathered to watch him perform. When attempts to ground the pilot were unsuccessful, several aviators refused to fly with him and “predicted the worst air show disaster in history.”
Warnings Unheeded is authored by Andy Brown, the man who ended the hospital killing spree, and is a result of more than seven years of writing and research. Brown “masterfully weaves” the two stories and intersperses them with chapters revealing the preparations he made that enabled him to end a pistol-versus-rifle gunfight with a 70 yard shot from his handgun. Brown also writes of his experience with the aftermath of the shooting and encourages others to learn from his mistakes when it comes to dealing with the effects of trauma.
These empowering stories are exhaustively researched and presented in an objective, narrative style that shows what can happen when authorities become complacent, when the precursors of violence are ignored and when the lessons from history are forgotten.
About the author
Andy Brown grew up in Port Orchard, Washington and joined the Air Force in 1989, shortly after graduating from South Kitsap High School. He served as a law enforcement specialist in the Security Police/Security Forces career field and was stationed in Idaho, Greece, Washington, Hawaii and New Mexico.
He now lives in the Spokane, Washington area and works for the Department of Homeland Security.
After seven years of researching, interviewing and writing, he wrote Warnings Unheeded. The book is part of his ongoing effort to share the lessons learned from the Fairchild tragedies and his experience with the effects of trauma.