Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

Tailspin: The Strange Case of Major Call

Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

Tailspin: The Strange Case of Major Call

Article excerpt

Tailspin: The Strange Case of Major Call by Bernard F. Conners. British American Publishing (http://www.britishamericanpublishing.com), 4 British American Boulevard, Latham, New York 12110, 2002, 512 pages, $26.95 (hardcover).

Armchair detectives should enjoy pondering the proposition that Air Force major James Arlon Call was the "bushy-haired man" in the infamous Marilyn Sheppard murder. Her convicted husband, Dr. Sam Sheppard, claimed that a bushy-haired intruder had killed her. That suspect became the one-armed man in The Fugitive television series and movie. Whether or not that was truly the case, the book does document Call's extensive "life of crime." That life included a shoot-out in which Call killed a police officer and eluded police during the ensuing 106-day manhunt. The author is a former FBI agent who wrote the book as a dramatized narrative, blending known facts with his own speculations. The last 140-plus pages present the evidence the author uses to implicate Major Call. The truly interested reader can delve deeply into the crime-scene evidence, court exhibits, police reports, and various witness testimonies; others will likely give this part of the book only a cursory glance.

The book details Call's life and actions between 1949 and 1956, illustrating them with several photos of his family and other aspects of his life. Although the book paints him as a "war hero" (he is indeed credited with 17 Korean combat missions), his awards, decorations, and excerpts from his officer-performance reports are not as glowing or impressive as the author implies. …

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