Sunday, August 16, 2015

Book Review: "The Wright Brothers" by David McCullough

One of the top books (#4 as I write) on the New York Times Best Seller List this summer is "The Wright Brothers" by David McCullough - the great story of the history of aviation with Orville and Wilbur Wright as the central characters. The story of how these two pioneers of aviation were the first to fly a heavier than air powered airplane (the "Wright Flyer") at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina on 17th December 1903 is reasonably well-known - but there was more to it that that single day. nI bought the paper back version to read on holidays in Italy

Image Source: Amazon.
David McCullough has a very easy to read writing style. This is a well researched book that traces the origins of the Wright brothers' burning desire to fly just over 110 years ago. Today it is difficult to look up to the sky and not see a jet or their white trails - we take flying for granted. But in the years before 1903 several aviators around the world were in a race to be the first to fly - the Wright brothers got there first.

Their story is one of perseverance - they had made many attempts before they finally got it right (see famous photo of this flight below). The relationship between the two brothers undoubtedly helped them to succeed as they were very close and worked well together. Neither brother every married - too devoted to their work. The book does not stop at the Kitty Hawk flight as it tracks subsequent brothers' efforts and those of others as aviation was a new horizon at the beginning of the last century. The founding of a company and the rivalry between countries to build airplanes based on their design makes for further fascinating reading. Wilbur's early death in 1912 perhaps robbed the 20th century of one of its most brilliant inventors before time.

As you might expect, there is much more to the story of the Wright brothers than the flight at Kitty Hawk. This is a fascinating popular history read that I heartily recommend to anyone who has ever set foot on the steps of an airplane stairs.

First flight2.jpg
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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