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This love letter to the cities of the world-from the airline pilot-author of Skyfaring-is "a journey around both the author's mind and the planet's great cities that leaves us energized, open to new experiences and ready to return more hopefully to our lives" (Alain de Botton, author of The Art of Travel).
In his small New England hometown, Mark Vanhoenacker spent his childhood dreaming of elsewhere- of the distant, real cities he found on the illuminated globe in his bedroom, and of one perfect metropolis that existed only in his imagination. These cities were the sources of endless comfort and escape, and of a lasting fascination. Streets unspooled, towers shone, and anonymous crowds bustled in the places where Mark hoped he could someday be anyone-perhaps even himself.
Now, as a commercial airline pilot, Mark has spent nearly two decades crossing the skies of our planet and touching down in dozens of the storied cities he imagined as a child. He experiences these destinations during brief stays that he repeats month after month and year after year, giving him an unconventional and uniquely vivid perspective on the places that form our urban world.
In this intimate yet expansive work that weaves travelogue with memoir, Mark celebrates the cities he has come to know and to love, through the lens of the hometown his heart has never quite left. As he explores emblematic facets of each city's identity- the road signs of Los Angeles, the old gates of Jeddah, the snowy streets of Sapporo-he shows us with warmth and fresh eyes the extraordinary places that billions of us call home.
MARK VANHOENACKER is a commercial airline pilot and the author of the international best seller Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot and How to Land a Plane. A regular contributor to The New York Times and the Financial Times, he has also written for Wired, the Times (London), and the Los Angeles Times. Born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, he trained as a historian and worked as a management consultant before starting his flight training in Britain in 2001. He now flies the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from London to cities around the world.
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A love letter to the cities of the world, from the airline pilot-author of Skyfaring.
Ever since he was a boy growing up in Pittsfield, in western Massachusetts, Mark Vanhoenacker has been fascinated by cities: their bright lights, hustle and bustle, and dazzling skylines, and the endless opportunities they offer for personal discovery and reinvention. Now, as an adult, he travels the world as a commercial airline pilot, visiting every city he dreamed about as a child and many, many more. The way he experiences these metropolises-in 24- to-72 hour layovers, sometimes twice in one week and then not at all for months or even years-is unlike that of any ordinary traveler, and gives him an utterly unique perspective on what makes a city a city. In this hybrid work of travelogue and memoir, Vanhoenacker celebrates the cities he has come to know over the years, from Pittsburgh to Cape Town, and from Tokyo to Jeddah-through the lens of his small hometown. In chapters that explore individual facets of city identity-their geography, their poems, their weather-he shows us with fresh eyes the man-made wonders that billions of us call home.