The Aviators: Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and the Epic Age of Flight

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Overview

Written by gifted storyteller Winston Groom (author of Forrest Gump), The Aviators tells the saga of three extraordinary aviators—Charles Lindbergh, Eddie Rickenbacker, and Jimmy Doolittle—and how they redefine heroism through their genius, daring, and uncommon courage.
 
This is the fascinating story of three extraordinary heroes who defined aviation during the great age of flight. These cleverly interwoven tales of their heart-stopping ...

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The Aviators: Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and the Epic Age of Flight

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Overview

Written by gifted storyteller Winston Groom (author of Forrest Gump), The Aviators tells the saga of three extraordinary aviators—Charles Lindbergh, Eddie Rickenbacker, and Jimmy Doolittle—and how they redefine heroism through their genius, daring, and uncommon courage.
 
This is the fascinating story of three extraordinary heroes who defined aviation during the great age of flight. These cleverly interwoven tales of their heart-stopping adventures take us from the feats of World War I through the heroism of World War II and beyond, including daring military raids and survival-at-sea, and will appeal to fans of Unbroken, The Greatest Generation, and Flyboys. With the world in peril in World War II, each man set aside great success and comfort to return to the skies for his most daring mission yet. Doolittle, a brilliant aviation innovator, would lead the daring Tokyo Raid to retaliate for Pearl Harbor; Lindbergh, hero of the first solo flight across the Atlantic, would fly combat missions in the South Pacific; and Rickenbacker, World War I flying ace, would bravely hold his crew together while facing near-starvation and circling sharks after his plane went down in a remote part of the Pacific. Groom's rich narrative tells their intertwined stories—from broken homes to Medals of Honor (all three would receive it); barnstorming to the greatest raid of World War II; front-page triumph to anguished tragedy; and near-death to ultimate survival—as all took to the sky, time and again, to become exemplars of the spirit of the "greatest generation."

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
★ 09/01/2013
Groom's (Shiloh, 1862) interwoven biographies confirm that in their day no American figures received such public adulation as Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, and Charles Lindbergh, each of whom became a colossus in the annals of flight. In 1918, Rickenbacker was the number one U.S. combat pilot; Lindbergh, of course, thrilled the world in 1927 when he flew solo nonstop across the Atlantic; and Doolittle ushered in modern airpower in 1929 by flying aircraft on instruments alone. All three visited Nazi Germany in the 1930s and warned their indifferent countrymen about Hitler's burgeoning war machine. Doolittle and Rickenbacker called for U.S. diplomatic engagement and military preparedness, while Lindbergh backed a policy of isolationism. During World War II these men were middle-aged, famous, and wealthy, yet they volunteered to fly again. Groom's farewell chapter is a masterpiece, in which he concludes, "They were giants who ruled the air…and years after they died their dust still sparkles in the lore that binds the national trust." VERDICT This is a winner, combining an engaging narrative and appropriate documentation into one solid study of three iconic aviators and their times. Recommended for students of military history and biography, as well as aviation historians and enthusiasts.—John Carver Edwards, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Cleveland
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-10-06
Joint biography of three legendary pilots. Groom (Shiloh, 1862, 2012, etc.) takes his subjects from their earliest days through World War II, when they all found a way to aid the struggle against the Axis powers. All three of Groom's subjects earned their renown by doing something extraordinary. Eddie Rickenbacker (1890–1973) rose from auto mechanic to champion race car driver and then became the top American flying ace of World War I. Jimmy Doolittle (1896–1993), a tough kid who boxed to pay for college, became the military's leading test pilot in the 1920s. Charles Lindbergh (1902–1974) dropped out of college to be a stunt pilot before becoming the most famous man alive for his New York to Paris flight in 1927. Groom traces their early careers, showing how they learned the nuts and bolts of aviation in the process of becoming pilots. This stood them in good stead in their later careers. Lindbergh personally oversaw the building of the Spirit of St. Louis, the plane for his epic flight, and, later in World War II, helped U.S. forces in the Pacific improve the range of the P-38 fighter planes. Doolittle is probably best known for his 1942 bombing raid on Tokyo, in which he used innovative tactics to shake the enemy's confidence in the impregnability of the Japanese homeland. Rickenbacker, on a secret mission to deliver orders to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, survived more than three weeks on a life raft in the shark-infested South Pacific after his plane went down, nearly starving, continuing the mission as soon as he recovered from the ordeal. Groom lets his empathy with his subjects somewhat outweigh their flaws, notably Lindbergh's initial failure to recognize the evil of Nazism. Ultimately, though, the author convincingly portrays them as true American heroes, men who changed the world by their deeds and who inspired countless others to emulate their examples. A gripping document of a brilliant era in our history and a few of the men who helped make it so.
From the Publisher
"This is a winner, combining an engaging narrative and appropriate documentation into one solid study of three iconic aviators and their times." —Library Journal, starred review

"A gripping document of a brilliant era in our history and a few of the men who helped make it so." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“As Mr. Groom's absorbing narrative unfolds, we see one man enduring a horrendous ordeal on the open sea; another nearly losing his life in a bombing run; and yet another finding a sort of redemption for his battered public image.”
The Wall Street Journal

"Groom’s rich narrative tell the intertwined stories of these aeronautical pioneers as they took to the air to become exemplars of the spirit of the “greatest generation.” —Flight Journal

"That the imagination that conceived Forrest Gump could conjure up fresh ways to tell stories of American history is astonishing...Groom's epic story is a tribute...Readers of all his fiction and nonfiction might well feel inclined to testify that he is fast becoming a national treasure. Forrest Gump would agree." —The Advocate

“Winston Groom writes history like a novelist. Readers will appreciate his careful and accurate use of aviation and military terminology, and description of each aircraft in the narratives. Groom handles this complex subject in clear, understandable terms, woven into a great air war story.”  –American Aviation Historical Society

"Groom is at his best sharing history through the personal stories of the people involved. Not only is this history a learning experience, it is a joy to experience the suspenseful adventures of these extraordinary aviators as they spent their lives developing and promoting aviation in this country. An important narrative not to be missed!" —Stephanie Crowe, Page and Palette Bookstore

This will be an alternate selection in History Book Club, Military Book Club, and Book-of-the-Month Club.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426211560
  • Publisher: National Geographic Society
  • Publication date: 11/5/2013
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 71,472
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 1.43 (d)

Meet the Author

WINSTON GROOM is the author of 14 previous books of nonfiction and fiction, including Shiloh 1862, Vicksburg 1863, Patriotic Fire, Shrouds of Glory, Forrest Gump, and Conversations with the Enemy (with Duncan Spencer), which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He lives with his wife and daughter in Point Clear, Alabama.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    A Gripping Tale of Three Aviation Heroes Winston Groom¿s prose

    A Gripping Tale of Three Aviation Heroes

    Winston Groom’s prose never disappoints, and this gripping history of three aviation giants is no exception. Following the lives of Charles Lindberg, Jimmy Doolittle, and Eddie Rickenbacker, this engaging account provides a personal angle to this pivotal era in human innovation and heroism. Although aviation experts may not be surprised by much of the information herein, this is nonetheless a well-researched and well-written account that I found very fresh and insightful. Although it may be difficult to imagine a time when air travel was in its early stages, Groom’s storytelling brings this unforgettable era in history alive with an intriguing attention to detail that will keep you turning the pages. A fine specimen of nonfiction that every aviation enthusiast or history buff should read. If you enjoy this book, another insightful and historic account on early aviation is Adeleide Ovington's memoir "An Aviator's Wife."

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2013

    Loved it

    I love history but even if you don't love it you will find this book an easy read. Follow three well known aviators and see how similar their lives were and how they all served not only aviation but the nation. I have recommended it to many

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2014

    Given as a gift - recipient enjoyed it.

    I purchased the book as a gift for a recent high school graduate who is interested
    in aviation. Teenagers often have very little knowledge of the early pioneers of
    flight.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2014

    Excellent read about early aviation

    This is an excellent read about the esrly days of aviation.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 4, 2014

    Sorry, a disappointment.

    A interesting concept. But it is one metaphor and cliche after another.
    Seems to be written for grammar school students.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2014

    Well received

    I purchased this book as a gift. It was received with great enthusiasm.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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