cover image Higher, Steeper, Faster: The Daredevils Who Conquered the Skies

Higher, Steeper, Faster: The Daredevils Who Conquered the Skies

Lawrence Goldstone. Little, Brown, $18.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-316-35023-5

In prose as riveting as the developments it investigates, Goldstone (Drive!) covers the history of early aviation up to 1915 in his first book for young readers. After grabbing attention with the crowd-thrilling stunts of Lincoln Beachey, “the greatest aviator America has ever seen,” Goldstone provides background on ballooning, parachutes, and gas-powered airships before launching into the main tale: the daredevils of flight’s first decade. As he chronicles limit-testing feats that astounded audiences, he points out that airplanes were not tested before they were flown in exhibitions and how radically airplanes changed in those early years: “By 1915, not one single feature of the original Wright Flyer [made famous by Orville Wright in his famous 1903 flight] remained in use.” Goldstone deftly combines captivating descriptions of the personalities—male and female—with discussion of the many improvements and ever-present hazards of early flying. Though questions about who actually built and repaired these fragile machines and how pilots were licensed aren’t addressed, Goldstone’s book enthralls. Archival photos, a timeline, and other appended materials are included. Ages 8–12. Agent: Charlie Olsen and Michael Carlisle, Inkwell Management. (Mar.)