An American Hero: The True Story of Chrles A. Lindbergh

Barry Denenberg, Author Scholastic $16.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-590-46923-4

Hero-worship as much as heroism comes in for scrutiny in Denenberg's (Voices from Vietnam) hard-hitting and ambitious biography of Charles Lindbergh (1902-1974), one of this century's most controversial Americans. After describing Lindbergh's youth, Denenberg moves quickly to the 1927 transatlantic flight that secured Lindbergh's fame. The author gracefully and surely sketches in the historical context, easily conveying to contemporary readers the thrill and bravado of that long-surpassed technical feat. He demonstrates equal skill in the other major discussions here, the notorious kidnapping of Lindbergh's son and the trial in which Bruno Hauptmann was convicted of the child's murder; and Lindbergh's admiration of the Nazis and his isolationist politics prior to America's entry into WWII. He lays out the most disturbing evidence (of incomplete justice at the Hauptmann trial; of Lindbergh's indifference to Kristallnacht), then respectfully leaves it to the reader to judge. Throughout, he explores the social and economic climate as well as the roles that Lindbergh and his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, played in the public imagination, challenging readers to question how men who shape their times are in turn shaped themselves. Ages 10-up. (Apr.)