The Wright Brothers

David McCullough. Simon & Schuster, $30 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4767-2874-2
Mechanical invention is close to a religious calling in this reverent biography of the pioneers of heavier-than-air flight. Pulitzer-winning historian McCullough (Truman) sees something exalted in the two bicycle mechanics and lifelong bachelors who lived with their sister and clergyman father in Dayton, Ohio. He finds them—especially Wilbur, the elder brother—to be cultured men with a steady drive and quiet charisma, not mere eccentrics. McCullough follows their monkish devotion to the goal of human flight, recounting their painstaking experiments in a homemade wind tunnel, their countless wrong turns and wrecked models, and their long stints roughing it on the desolate, buggy shore at Kitty Hawk, N.C. Thanks largely to their own caginess, the brothers endured years of doubt and ridicule while they improved their flyer. McCullough also describes the fame and adulation that the brothers received after public demonstrations in France and Washington, D.C., in 1908 cemented their claims. His evident admiration for the Wrights leads him to soft-pedal their crasser side, like their epic patent lawsuits, which stymied American aviation for years. Still, McCullough's usual warm, evocative prose makes for an absorbing narrative; he conveys both the drama of the birth of flight and the homespun genius of America's golden age of innovation. Photos. Agent: Mort Janklow, Janklow & Nesbit. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/09/2015
Release date: 05/05/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4423-7611-3
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4423-7609-0
Compact Disc - 978-1-4423-7610-6
Hardcover - 585 pages - 978-1-4104-7875-7
Open Ebook - 650 pages - 978-1-4767-2876-6
Compact Disc - 650 pages
Paperback - 978-1-4328-3434-0
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