Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Wright Brothers, by David McCullough

David McCullough's name has become synonymous with bringing history to life.  Several of his books have won major awards, including his biographies of Presidents Truman and John Adams, which won Pulitzer Prizes.  His latest book, The Wright Brothers, tells the story of these two brothers from Dayton, Ohio, who changed the world with the power of hard work and great ideas.

Everyone knows Wilbur and Orville Wright pioneered powered human flight.  McCullough tells their story, emphasizing the power of their achievements in an era when people all over the United States and Europe were trying to accomplish the same thing.  Some other efforts were well-funded with government money and major investors.  It's simply remarkable that "they had no college education, no formal technical training, no experience working with anyone other than themselves, no friends in high places, no financial backers, no government subsidies, and little money of their own."   The fact that, all of that being true, they managed to accomplish what no one else had, and, in doing so, change the face of human civilization, boggles the mind.

McCullough writes about their start in Dayton, going into business together with a bicycle shop (which was quite cutting edge at the time), then developing their glider, and adding motorized flight.  They were known for their personal integrity, their humility, and their hard work.  Even living in Europe, treated like royalty (and in some cases, hanging out with royalty), they never seemed to lose the grounding of the Midwestern pastor's home in which they were raised.  I thoroughly enjoyed McCullough's detailed, colorful telling of these two amazing men's story.

2016 Reading Challenge: A book by David McCullough

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