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Mitchell Alphonse SchwefelNot My Hero
Frankly I must say that after finishing this book I was reminded of that famous quote about the lovely city of Oakland, only in this case it applied to subject Lindbergh. "Is there any there there.". My conclusion from reading this wonderfully written and detailed book is that Lindbergh could best be described as a stick figure of a man, someone who could well have been cast in one of those post WW2 black and white farmer brown cartoons. As a matter of fact the only criticism of Mr. Berg that I have is that his obvious infatuation with Anne Morrow, who by all accounts was an almost noble and long suffering soul, may have resulted in his occasionally incorrectly depicting Lindbergh as having several almost human like qualities. Lindbergh at his best was a narrow minded, ill-tempered martinet. A cross-colorless bossy man given to keeping copious lists and to hassling his wife and children over mindless meaningless micro details. A man who spent an inordinate amount of time fretting over how he could get his kit packed into as small a suitcase as was humanly possible. I kid you not.
Yet I by no means wish to dismiss in any way his single great achievement. However I do wonder whether this man, who strapped himself into a flimsy gas filled monoplane, who, despite his lack of sleep the night before and facing at least 36 hours of non stop flight over the Atlantic ocean, could have actually possessed the capacity to fear or worry about the consequences. As the saying goes, " where there is no sense there can be no pain."
Charles Augustus Lindbergh is quite likely the best 20th century illustration of what can occur in a nation obsessed with the cult of hero worship. He was I submit the wrong man at the right time. Moreover, after being defrocked, after being exposed as the mean spirited bigoted quasi-traitor that he was, he was able, with the assistance of a cadre of America first, isolationist fellow travelers and a few well meaning aviation fanatics, to rehabilitate or recapture, to some measure, his good name and reputation despite his unrepentant propensity for intolerance. It is with incredulity that I read and reread many of his public utterances made on the eve of WW2. His absolute indifference to the nazi torture of the Jews depicted in the context of his behavior as a major nazi apologist and lapdog belie his subsequent claims that he acted only out of his devotion for his country. After all, how many can say they were the nazi's most decorated American.
To anyone who might in the future suggest that Herr Lindbergh was a complicated or possibly tormented figure I urge that they read this book. Mr. Berg overlays detail upon detail that, in their totality, depict this man for what I say he was. That is, a shallow, mean spirited, bigoted man who happened to have done a gloriously heroic deed over a 34 hour period once in his life. As his wife's close friend and teacher once observed, had he not flown the Atlantic, he probably would have operated a gas station on Long Island. Mitchell Alphonse Schwefel