Arthur Hailey, a Canadian/British novel-writer, was born in England in 1920. He served at the Royal Air Force in World War II, after which he went to spend the rest of his life in Canada. He worked at a number of odd jobs and part-time portfolios. When his book Runaway Zero Eight was adapted into a successful television drama, Flight Into Danger, he was propelled into a life of a full-time writer. Arthur Hailey’s works are so famous that they have been translated into 40 different languages and have sold over 170 million copies till date. The unique feature of his novels is that they are based in one particular industry and covers every detail of that industry. His books have covered hotels, banks, airlines and news. His writing has a plain style and portrays real-life accurately. His research is extremely accurate and painstaking, which is reflected in his novels. A major win for his novels comes from the lead character that is down-to-earth, something that most people can identify with easily.
His books Airport, The Moneychangers, Wheels and Overload reached the top spot in the New York Times bestseller list. Airport spent thirty weeks at the top space and a movie was made based on the book. Some of his best works include:
- Runway Zero-Eight
This book propelled Arthur Hailey into stardom. He envisioned this book when he was travelling on a flight and imagined what would have happened if both the pilots fell sick due to food poisoning. This story was made into a television movie Flight Into Danger, and another one, Zero Hour!. The book was published as a novel in 1958, when he decided to stick to novel writing and move away from script writing.
- In High Places
Published in 1960, this novel traces the life and struggles of the Prime Minister of Canada, as he faces several challenges in his government. The world is facing a Cold War crisis in which Canada is facing a threat from thermonuclear war. The Prime Minister, James McCallum Howden, struggles with an unstable party and majority supporting him in the Parliament. Several aspects of his life are highlighted. First is a passionless but pleasant marriage with his wife. Second is his interaction with immediate members of his staff and family. Third are events taking place in other parts of the country and the development of the thermonuclear war threat. Arthur also wanders on to describe other political campaigns and their effect on the Prime Minister’s office. The end of the novel is a cliffhanger where the Prime Minister is readying himself to give a speech about a treaty that might change the face of North America completely.
- The Moneychangers
The novel is said to be loosely based on the Bank of America. Hailey tells a compelling story about a fictional bank, First Mercantile American, the CEO of which has just retired and a struggle for power ensues between two able contenders Alex Vandervoot and Roscoe Heyward, who have spent a lifetime serving the banking industry. Roscoe Heyward eventually drives the bank to the brink of bankruptcy as is persuaded to make a seemingly good deal with a multinational conglomerate that is soon going to go down under. The novel has several parallel stories running with the main one. The first is of Miles Eastin, a senior bank teller who has been whisking money from the bank. The second is a credit card fraud scam that is being investigated by the Bank’s security officials. There are also other issues concerning insider trading, subprime lending and inflation. All in all, it is a gripping read that tells you everything you can hope to know about banks and the banking industry.
Hotel was published in 1965 and adapted into a television film in 1967. It is a story of an independent hotel in New Orleans, named the St. Gregory, which faces bankruptcy and a merger into a chain of hotels. The story by and large revolves around Peter McDermott, the general manager of the hotel, his personal and career problems. There are other problems at the hotel too. The financial situation is very bad and they do not seem to retaining any guests because of the hotel’s policy to be closed to black guests. The Duke and Duchess of Croydon who are living in the penthouse have caused a run and kill accident which they are trying to hide. Other employees of the hotel are scamming the hotel in several ways, and only some, like Peter McDermott and his love interest are interested in preserving it. The multiple plot lines of the novel keep the readers engaged and on their toes.
Airport was published in 1968 and follows the workings of a huge metropolitan airport. Lincoln International is a fictional airport in Chicago (similar to O’Hare International Airport). The protagonist is Mel Bakersfield, the General Manager of the airport. This story revolves around the happening on one night when a massive snow storm disrupts the normal functioning of the airport. A major runway shuts down, a flight faces a mid-air emergency and citizens residing nearby who start protesting because of the noise from the airplanes.