The Wright Brothers

The Wright Brothers

Book - 2015 | First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition.
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Two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize David McCullough tells the dramatic story-behind-the-story about the courageous brothers who taught the world how to fly: Wilbur and Orville Wright.

On a winter day in 1903, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, two unknown brothers from Ohio changed history. But it would take the world some time to believe what had happened: the age of flight had begun, with the first heavier-than-air, powered machine carrying a pilot.

Who were these men and how was it that they achieved what they did?

David McCullough, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, tells the surprising, profoundly American story of Wilbur and Orville Wright.

Far more than a couple of unschooled Dayton bicycle mechanics who happened to hit on success, they were men of exceptional courage and determination, and of far-ranging intellectual interests and ceaseless curiosity, much of which they attributed to their upbringing. The house they lived in had no electricity or indoor plumbing, but there were books aplenty, supplied mainly by their preacher father, and they never stopped reading.

When they worked together, no problem seemed to be insurmountable. Wilbur was unquestionably a genius. Orville had such mechanical ingenuity as few had ever seen. That they had no more than a public high school education, little money and no contacts in high places, never stopped them in their "mission" to take to the air. Nothing did, not even the self-evident reality that every time they took off in one of their contrivances, they risked being killed.

In this thrilling book, master historian David McCullough draws on the immense riches of the Wright Papers, including private diaries, notebooks, scrapbooks, and more than a thousand letters from private family correspondence to tell the human side of the Wright Brothers' story, including the little-known contributions of their sister, Katharine, without whom things might well have gone differently for them.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 2015.
Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition.
ISBN: 9781476728742
Branch Call Number: 629.1300922 Wrigh-M
Characteristics: 320 pages : illustrations

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CMLibrary_sdeason Oct 04, 2017

Full of facts and details, this book shares an in-depth look at the brothers and their mission to fly.

CircMary Aug 01, 2017

I was soaring through the sky and tinkering with the plane in the bicycle shop with the Wright Brothers and their sister; I was in the crowd that saw the first airplane fly over the Eiffel Tower in Paris. No one can put you right there like David McCullough. This was my favorite read of 2016.

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brangwinn
May 14, 2017

If you want to know how little you know about the Wright Brothers, this is the book to read. I found it fascinating about how much more flying both in the US and in Europe that the brothers did, as well as their close relationship with their spinster sister and their father as well as two other brothers.

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pauldib
Jan 08, 2017

The scope of imagination, the bonds of family, and the power of obsession are all elements of this historical narrative.

Few siblings will have a closer relationship than the brothers Wilbur and Oliver Wright had. The whole story of the first powered flight of a heavier than air craft is built on this relationship. They worked like two halves of the same brain. Just being able to work together in some business was their original goal. Toward this end, it seemed reasonable to take advantage of the current craze for bicycles and start their own repair shop. Eventually the decision was made to build and market their own superbly crafted models. Over time the business expanded into a profitable enterprise. Suddenly the bug bit and the idea of flight began to capture their imaginations.

The brother taught themselves by extensive research and constructing ever more capable gliders. They also knew how to choose skilled and loyal assistants, including their much loved and highly educated younger sister. Over the course of several years they persisted in refining and testing their designs until they were ready to create a lightweight motor to mount on the airframe. Finally, at Kitty Hawk, they achieved their dream.

Both the period leading up to the flight and their adventures and achievements during the years following it are exquisitely documented. The author, David McCullough, never disappoints. He has fashioned a book that chronicles the singular event of flight while also infusing the story with wonderful details and insights into the characters, both central and peripheral to the events.

One of the most fascinating parts of the book, to me, was the story of the Wright family, their closeness and devotion to one another. They really did operate as a unit. Curiously enough, neither of the brothers ever married, perhaps because they always kept themselves so busy.

This is a quick and, admittedly, cursory review. Suffice it to say that I enjoyed the heck out of it.

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kevinjtate
Dec 24, 2016

Everyone knows about the flight at Kitty Hawk. I had no idea about what happens afterwards. Very well written book and enjoyable read.

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TootinMoose
Dec 05, 2016

A very good book. Gives one a more comprehensive appreciation of not the just the famous brothers, but the entire Wright family. Towards the end, the book gets bogged down describing their time in Europe in too much detail. Overall, however, a very good way to better understand the iconic aviators.

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lmaupin
Sep 03, 2016

This book is much more interesting than I expected it to be. The race to be "first in flight" was dramatic and fraught with deadly peril, and McCullough is a gifted writer who draws upon scores of family letters, newspaper accounts, photographs and other sources to tell the story of an obsession that changed the world. The book is also a rich source of the social and cultural history of one of America's greatest eras. I expected just to skim through it, but wound up reading it carefully and with much pleasure.

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FVReader
Sep 01, 2016

I have completed the book with the print copy, having started it in audio format. I can recommend both formats. Both were superb.
I found the Wright brothers to be a delightful duo and their family to be solid and interesting. The brothers had an unconventional upbringing in that they were allowed to follow their interests and encouraged in their endeavours. They were such a solid, down-to-earth family as well. It was really nice to read about a family that supported each other.
The brothers were genius. They must have been. Without specialized education or funding, they made the most marvelous invention. Everything about aeronautics was unknown. What they discovered over the course of about 10 years was amazing.
This book covers the years of about 1900-1912. McCullough tells a story with detail and interest. This story reads easily, like a novel.

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pnwann_209
Jul 28, 2016

I highly recommend this book.

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SPSit
Jun 22, 2016

This is a well researched and written book. Thoroughly enjoyable. However, this book is more about the two brothers. It described the contribution of their sister to their achievements. Not the least was her nursing Orville back to health after his crash in Ft. Myers. So the title should have been The Wrights Brother and Sister!

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FVRLusername
Jun 06, 2015

FVRLusername thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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szarnstorff
Oct 01, 2016

Excellent description of a shy, cheerful, optimistic, entrepreneural, mechanical, sensitive man with ingenuity who worked with his brother and never gave up in adveristy. The best dividends come from seeking more knowledge rather than more power. So many lessons in this book. The power of family who encouraged reading and intellectual curiosity. The power of the work ethic. Excellent book.

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FVRLusername
Jun 06, 2015

No bird soars in a calm. (Wilbur Wright)

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