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This is the story of Joe Carroll: fully paid-up member of the Greatest Generation, aviator, farmer, and handsome Irish charmer who radiated exuberance for life—a literal and metaphorical flying boy. With his head in the clouds, this American Icarus embodied all that was aspirational and attractive about mid-twentieth-century America, with its technical ingenuity, bravado, and its belief that the only way was up. But Joe was also a destructive, impulsive alcoholic; like many of that generation he held experiences and feelings close to the chest. Only on his deathbed did Joe acknowledge the pull of gravity, reaching out to his estranged family, reflecting over his life, and contemplating the afterlife. Depth journalist Pythia Peay is Joe’s eldest child. In this evocative, thoroughly researched, and sensitively drawn depiction of her father’s life and times, Peay maps the trajectories of this troubled, ordinary Joe, who as a youth had suffered a Dickensian twist of fate that would leave him a divided man. Guided by her father’s memories he recalled as he lay dying, Peay charts the ancestral rivers that led a working-class boy from depression-era Altoona, Pennsylvania, to the Air Transport Command and Brazil during World War II; post-War Buenos Aires, where Joe married an Argentine beauty with ancestral connections to the foundation of the United States; newly independent Israel, where he flew for El Al; the Missouri heartland in the 1950s, where he ran a farm and raised four children while traveling the world for TWA; the upheavals of the 1960s that would drive Peay and her father apart; Mexico, where her parents fled to escape their failing marriage; and, finally, Texas, where Joe got cancer and died. In narrating Joe’s life, Peay not only delineates the depths of the Depression, the highs of the “good war” and the psychological toll it exacted on the Greatest Generation, as well as the undercurrents that led to her family’s disintegration in the 1960s, but she unpacks the myths and archetypes that shape the United States—its perpetual restlessness and heroic individualism—in a journey that leads, intimately and movingly, to a final reconciliation with a dying patriarch and the ghosts of the past.