The Wright Brothers

The Wright Brothers

Book - 2015
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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? 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. 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 MC
Characteristics: 320 pages, 48 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm


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Oct 13, 2018

Wow! and it only took another 78 years from the first flights of the Wright Brothers until the first launch of NASA's Space Shuttle "Columbia"!! This is the first book that I have completely read since I left college back in 1990. I rate it as ***** five-stars and can easily compare it to Tom Wolfe's "The Right Stuff" and the saga of achieving flight in space. I truly loved the story that David McCullough wrote for us and it can be inspirational to the younger crew.. believe in your self and those around you, never let anyone say "that you can't do that!", prove them wrong and do what ever your imagination will allow you to do. Don't let jealous naysayers take away your energy.
The Aviation/Aeronautical/Astro-Physics world needs more great thinkers. GO FOR IT!!!

Aug 25, 2018

Long a fan of David McCullough I looked forward to reading this book and while I thought it very good and really did enjoy it I wouldn’t rate it up there with his Panama Canal or Truman top shelf efforts. Also it’s much shorter than other titles I’ve read. The books conclusion left me wanting to know much more beyond 1910 or 1912. He certainly included histories beyond those dates but I know there’s much, much more to learn as Orville lived until 1948. I’m hoping to locate author Fred Howard’s book on the same subject entitled Wilbur and Orville : A Biography of the Wright Brothers. Mr. Howard worked at the Library of Congress and was involved in research and editing the Wright Brother papers. Reviews of his book look are good and my understanding is it continues in depth well past Wilbur’s death in 1912 where Mr. McCullough’s book is brief in my opinion. Still I ready did enjoy David McCullough’s book and highly recommend it.

RogerDeBlanck Jun 30, 2018

Proving again why he remains among the world’s preeminent historians, McCullough delivers another outstanding book, this time a splendid biography of Wilbur and Orville Wright. In addition to the excitement generated around the brothers’ ingenuity as the first to design a “flying machine,” their story is most inspirational for how self-taught and determined they were in accomplishing their dream. McCullough sets the narrative at a thrilling pace. He moves seamlessly from the brothers’ upbringing in the thriving town of Dayton, Ohio to the sandy dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina where they practiced their initial flights and then to their travels abroad in France where they showcased their flying talents.

In charting the brothers’ innovations, McCullough has the ability to cover the science of aeronautics in an understandable way. He shows how brilliant the brothers were in putting their minds to the task of overcoming one obstacle after another, all of which had stumped aviation inventors for decades. As lifelong learners with a zeal for discovery, the brothers went from building their own bicycles to studying birds to finally developing the first airplane. Their success had a distinctly family influence as both their father and sister, Katharine, played vital roles in encouraging them every step of the way. The brothers’ courage and perseverance resonate throughout the book, and their achievements leave you feeling uplifted with hope for what humanity can achieve through the power of resilience and hard work.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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Jun 06, 2015

wordsmithwannabe thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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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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Jun 06, 2015

No bird soars in a calm. (Wilbur Wright)


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