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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Spring 2019

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In Full Flight
One Woman's Quest for Atonement in Africa
By (author): John Heminway
9780525434535 Paperback, Trade English General Trade BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Women Feb 19, 2019
$22.95 CAD
Active 5.2 x 8 x 0.7 in | 0.69 lb 336 pages 8 PP PHOTOGRAPHS Vintage
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—while 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 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 an extraordinary 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.

FRESH PERSPECTIVE ON WWII: While WWII has been covered extensively, few books—if any—have looked at it from as unique and particular a point of view as Spoerry’s, a Frenchwoman who fought the enemy, then became the enemy, then fled the continent to become a pilot and a doctor. This book puts a well-known war into conversation with one woman’s remarkable, albeit little-known, personal journey.

ARMCHAIR TRAVEL: For the last forty years, Heminway has covered Africa extensively in both his writing and his filmmaking career. Just as Peter Godwin’s memoir of his time in Southern Africa, When a Crocodile Eats the Sun (Picador, 2008), captivated audiences, In Full Flight will take readers on a vivid journey through twentieth-century East Africa.

DEFINITIVE BIOGRAPHY: This is the first full-length, in-depth look at Anne Spoerry, and the author’s access to never-before-seen archives, as well as his years-long friendship with her, will make this the definitive story of her fascinating life.

COMPELLING STORYTELLING: Nonfiction that reads like fiction. Spoerry’s life, both in Europe and Africa, defies belief and appeals not only to readers of nonfiction but also to anyone interested in incredible stories.

JOHN HEMINWAY is an author and award-winning filmmaker who has produced and written more than two hundred 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.

Author Residence: Bozeman, MT

Author Hometown: NYC

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Author Social Media: Twitter: @JohnHeminway

“Captivating…tale of complex truths and motivations…. In Full Flight is a daring and devastating story.”—The Washington Post

“A narrative as riveting as it is disquieting.”—The Wall Street Journal

“Incredible…. An exceptionally compelling contemplation on life’s meaning, the nature of humanity, and whether atonement is achievable.”—Booklist (starred review)

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