The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

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Rate: 4/5


Medium: Audiobook


Overview (No Spoilers): Growing up right on the Ohio/Michigan border, a mere three hours from the Wright brothers’ hometown of Dayton, Ohio, their remarkable achievements were highlighted throughout my formal education from a young age. Due to previously learning the basics of their research, I’d bypassed McCullough’s book highlighting their lives several times while perusing my local library’s shelves, naively assuming I already knew enough of their story. I finally picked up this title as I was due to a nonfiction read and rather anticlimactically picked up one of the first books that came available to borrow.  That being said, I finished The Wright Brothers in two days as I could not stop listening to their fascinating story of perseverance and a bit chagrined, I have to admit that there was so much more to their story than creating the first airplane.  McCullough does an excellent job detailing the world attitudes toward flight during that time period, as well as the current status of the field of research. Their methodical attitude toward the development of the airplane and their careful regard for the dangers involved with testing were not what I was anticipating as I had an imagined the two of them as daredevils. Additionally, I was shocked to learn about the rugged, remote conditions of Kitty Hawk during their trial runs. In school, the lessons I’d received failed to capture the isolated nature of the location that resulted in several hardships that significantly added to their already difficult task, from almost sinking boats, to hurricanes and hordes of mosquitoes. Furthermore, once they achieved this brilliant feat, the two brothers were met with skeptical naysayers and struggled to drum up any excitement for their invention. Remarkably, these brothers built their plane using  only their own funding for a mere fraction the government had spent on their own failed aeronautical research.  On a side note, growing up I attended a United Brethren Church with my family where my Great Uncle was a Bishop.  I was surprised to say the least when the Wright brothers’ father was also a Bishop in the United Brethren Church, with the denomination playing prominently throughout this story.  Of course when I saw my Uncle over this past weekend I had to question him about the link, which he excitedly elaborated upon.  Overall, The Wright Brothers was a fantastic read that details the inspirational account of two siblings who pursued learning for the sake of their own curiosity and persevered through many, many failed trials and tribulations, only to have their final contribution change  the world beyond recognition in only a little over a century.


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4 comments

  1. I started this book a little over two years ago right before I had my youngest daughter, and I couldn’t get into it the same way I did McCullough’s other books. I’ve been meaning to give it another go… perhaps after the (imminent) birth of this baby and the immediate postpartum period… I remember it needing concentration.

    Liked by 1 person

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