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From the Publisher* "Bak's (Henry and Edsel: The Creation of the Ford Empire) exceptional contribution to Lindbergh historiography plays out against the broader canvas of North Atlantic flight, from the initial stopover crossing by the U.S. Navy in 1919 through the spate of New York-to-Paris attempts in 1927 and the first Paris-to-New York flight in 1930. Bak vividly captures the flurry of activity by the respective crews in preparing their multiengine planes to cross the Atlantic (only Lindbergh opted to make the "jump" solo, flying a single-engine craft), including the occasional clash of wills, the in-flight losses of life, and Lindbergh's winning of the Orteig Prize for his 1927 flight. Bak portrays Lindbergh as an iconic figure who through courage, perseverance, aeronautical savvy, and excellent working relations with the Spirit of St. Louis's builders and backers won the day and gained worldwide acclaim, although his celebrity eventually took a darker turn. The epilog contains touching sketches of the later years of many of the men and women Bak covers. VERDICT A fresh and remarkably comprehensive perspective on Lindbergh and his competitors who meant to deny him a life of fame and wealth. Impressively researched, with a narrative fairly crackling with energy. Recommended to all readers." — John Carver Edwards, University of Georgia Libs., Cleveland (Library Journal, August 2011)
"Is there room for yet another spin on the tired old propeller of the Spirit of St. Louis? Yes indeed, if Richard Bak is turning the prop. In The Big Jump, a brisk history, Mr. Bak puts Lindbergh's flight in the context of 'the Great Atlantic Air Race'.... It was in large part the pilot's determined lack of flair that made him such a hero when he succeeded — an outcome that, for all the times it has been told, Mr. Bak has imbued again with excitement and pleasure."
—Dan Ford, Wall Street Journal, July 23/24, 2011
"The story of the Spirit of St. Louis is well known but seldom told as well.
—David Shribman, Boston Globe, August 11, 2011
"Richard Bak has an astonishing gift for making events of the distant past seem as if they happened just yesterday. Now he has put that gift to use in a superb rediscovery of aviation’s greatest adventure story: the deadly race to connect New York and Paris by air."
—James Tobin, National Book Critics Circle Award winner for Ernie Pyle's War and the author of To Conquer the Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight