Charles Lindbergh: An Airman, His Aircraft, and His Great Flights

Charles Lindbergh: An Airman, His Aircraft, and His Great Flights

by R. E. G. Davies, Mike Machat

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Robin J. Dunn
Who was the first to fly across the North Atlantic? Charles Lindbergh? No. Heroes, of course, inhabit myths, but Lindbergh was actually the 106th: his astonishing accomplishment lay in doing it nonstop and solo. Spectacular though it was, it became simply one flight in a tireless career of service to aviation. Davies's excellently designed volume places the feat squarely in context. Although intended primarily for an adult audience, its engaging mix of lively layout and animated writing cannot fail to stir the inquiring teenager. A landscape format offers a cascade of photographs, a series of captivating maps (including a fold-out section), which beautifully disentangle the interweaving of Lindbergh's air adventures, and a stunning parade of meticulous, full-color paintings of his many aircraft. Boxes contain technical data, allowing the less technically minded to remain undaunted by detail yet absorbed by the subject. With its copiously informative text, this book not only tells but shows a terrific story. Such quality should not surprise us. Davies, a leading aviation historian, is curator of air transport at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D. C.; Machat is similarly renowned as an aviation artist. The kidnapping and death of Lindbergh's son is outlined, and his notorious political pronouncements are nonjudgmentally considered. The great value of the story within these pages, however, is in opening our eyes to Lindbergh's most lasting achievements. He crusaded for aviation safety, likewise for his vision of air travel accessible to all. His worldwide survey missions played a crucial role in constructing (often literally) the world airline system we now use so casually. Through all this, his wife Anne Morrow was "no mere companion," and she too receives attention here. Though more about the work of an extraordinary aviator than his life, these pages breathe with Lindbergh's enigmatic personality and calm energy. A private man who saw himself first as the explorer he was, his life was his work. This engrossing volume surely also offers a wealthy resource for school project work. Other books exist about Lindbergh. Few entice the reader with him on his journeys as irresistibly as this one. Giblin approaches the man very differently, portended by the subtitle's hint of fallibility. He introduces a young Charles whose father, tellingly, believed a dominated child would become a compliant, unproductive adult. A major influence was his maternal grandfather, an inventor in whose laboratory he absorbed a scientific habit of thought. His individualism and imagination thus nurtured, Charles grew into a methodical loner who trusted himself totally. His single-mindedness would later manifest itself as obstinacy, swollen by cruel experience in the clutches of a self-serving media. Airborne exploits after Spirit of St. Louis are treated as incidental, balancing this biography toward the kidnapping story and the isolationist, even pro-Nazi, stance that largely alienated Lindbergh from his adoring public. That account is dispassionate yet grim, substantiated by contemporary reports and Lindbergh's own words, and is the strongest part of the book. The writing manner, elsewhere neatly trimmed but lacking vigor, here becomes tersely convincing and loses its "story-hour" flavor. Invented dialogue, mingled with genuine quotation, make regrettable appearances: surely this eternal recourse of lazy biography is not the way to impart an instinct for separating tabloid-style inflation from the truth. Nevertheless, partly as a case study of the one-sided phenomenon of hero-worship, this review of an exceptional life provides solid reading. Index. Illus. Photos. Maps. Biblio. Note: This review was written and published to address two titles: Charles Lindbergh: An Airman, His Aircraft, and His Great Flights, and Charles A. Lindbergh: A Human Hero. VOYA Codes: 5Q 3P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Will appeal with pushing, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).

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Paladwr Press
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