As investigators discovered, the bomb had been placed on the plane in Frankfurt, and Pan Am's negligent security policy was at least partly to blame. Indeed, the McLaughlin Report (which was released in May 1990) determined that the bombing had been preventable, and the FAA, the State Department (which had failed to tell the public that it had received a tip that a bomb would be planted on a Pan Am flight from Frankfurt) and Pan Am itself were criticized. Unfortunately, the report was largely ignored by the Bush administration, and as the Cohens write, "Many of the shortcomings in airline security that the report exposed are still with us over a decade later."
Pan Am didn't escape unscathed, though. Its stock fell precipitously, and just a few days shy of the third anniversary of the bombing, Pan Am ceased operations. (As the Cohens observe, various attempts to revive the Pan Am name and symbol have failed.) Finally, on July 11, 1992, a Brooklyn jury found Pan Am guilty of willful misconduct.
What comes out most powerfully in the Cohens' account is their almost indescribable pain and the anger that built rather than dwindled as time passed. Early on, unlike many of the other victims' families, the Cohens decided to meet the tragedy with dogged defiance because they believed that their silence would only insure that the public forgot the bombing. And to their credit, the Cohens have stayed angry to this day, while the Bush and Clinton administrations have maneuvered carefully around the disaster and its unwanted repercussions in Middle East policies. (The Bush administration, for example, was quick to dismiss Syria as a suspect after they formed an alliance of sorts with the U.S. during the Persian Gulf War.)
The Cohens' account is not an objective history, nor (I'm sure) would they write one. At times, their anger comes close to overwhelming their text (particularly when they deal with the groups that formed among the survivors and when they summarize the Bush and Clinton administrations' reactions to the investigations), but they were right not to edit that anger out of the book. As it stands, Pan Am 103 is a searing testament of two parents' undying anger at having lost a child needlessly. It is harrowing, necessary reading, I think.