Tom Vanderbilt

On a recent flight from Salt Lake City to New York, the announcement came ‘to kindly lower the window shades so that other passengers may enjoy the in-flight entertainment programme’. I demurred, and my window soon seemed a searchlight sweeping through the dark cabin, disconcerting those passengers trying to enjoy The Notebook. Why settle for Hollywood pap, I thought, when they had the sublime at their disposal?

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[1] Window Seat: Reading the Landscape from the Air by Gregory Dicum (Chronicle, 176 pp., £9.99, May2004, 0 8118 4086 7).

[2] America from the Air: An Aviator’s Story by Wolfgang Langewiesche, edited by Drake Hokanson and Carol Kratz (Johns Hopkins, 248 pp., £14.50, June 2004, 0 8018 7819 5).

[3] New York: The Photo Atlas (HarperCollins, 369 pp.,£50, October 2004, 0 00 717703 8).