Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Wright Brothers


David McCullough is an American national treasure.  His latest book, The Wright Brothers (www.amzn.com/1476728747), is an instant classic.

McCullough tells the story of the Wright Brothers’ lives in the American Midwest with great clarity and grace.  Wilbur and Orville grew up with their sister Katherine in Dayton, Ohio.  Katherine is given a justifiably prominent place in this story.  Their father, Milton Wright, was a Bishop in the United Brethren church.  Bishop Wright described his sons as being “Independently” Republican.

Wilbur and Orville Wright were brothers who complimented each other.  Both shares a phenomenal work ethic that drove them on to extraordinary achievement.  Both demonstrated enormous physical courage in the early testing days at Kitty Hawk and Dayton.

At the dawn of the 20th century human flight was a dream shared by some hopeful inventors and a few cranks.  Many governments, including the USA, spent a fortune to make it a reality.  But it was this amazing labor by two American brothers who were bicycle mechanics that transformed a dream into the reality of controlled manned flight.

Wilbur and Orville succeed not merely in their invention of powered flight but also in the promotion of their invention.  The demonstrate their fragile contraptions in France before spectators such as King Edward VII and many more.  They become successful men of business.

McCullough points out that Wilbur lived long enough to see the destruction caused by military aviation in World War II.  Wilbur saw himself explicitly and accurately in Promethean terms.  He wrote…"We dared to hope we had invented something that would bring lasting peace to the earth.  But we were wrong.  No, I don’t have any regrets about my part in the invention of the airplane, though no one could deplore more than I do the destruction it has caused.  I feel about the airplane much the same as I do about fire.  That is I regret all the terrible damage done by fire, but I think it is good for the human race that someone discovered how to start fires and that we have learned how to put fire to thousands of important uses.”

This is an important story told by a master storyteller.  This is an old fashioned book about men with old fashioned values who did more than any two people to create our modern world.

Black and white photography enhances the book.

My only quibble with McCullough’s book is that, at 320 pages, it is just too short!


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2 comments:

Major Jack Coughlin said...


Very good review of a fantastic book, I'm going to reread it. Last night I watched a movie on
amazon Prime called "The Wright Brothers", not as complete as the book-but very entertaining.

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