Wilbur and Orville

Fred Howard, Author Alfred A. Knopf $24.95 (530p) ISBN 978-0-394-54269-0
As a former Library of Congress aeronautics editor who worked on the Wright papers, Howard is well qualified to write about the brothers and to redress the rumors, claims and falsifications that followed their successful flights. He establishes early on that the Wrights were not mere tinkerers who owned a Dayton bicycle shop but that they had sufficient background in mathematics and physics to be aware of the theory as well as the practice of flight. Much of the book is devoted to the brothers' efforts to market their invention, which proceeded slowly because they were not businessmen, and the difficulties they had with those who asserted that they, not the Wrights, were the first to fly. Throughout the biography there runs the thread of two loving brothers and the warm family life that helped to sustain them in their struggles. Commendably, Howard describes the technical features of their work in a fashion quite comprehensible to lay readers. A fine job. Photos not seen by PW. History Book Club alternate. (June 5)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1987
Release date: 05/01/1987
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