Berg, Scott A. Lindbergh. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1998.
Reason: Charles Lindbergh died in the month of August – read in his memory.
From the moment Charles Lindbergh watched the Aeronautical Trials at Fort Meyer in June of 1912, he was hooked on planes and flying. Watching the maneuvers sparked his young mind’s imagination. Fast forward fifteen years and May 21st, 1927 is a date for the record books. It is the date Charles Lindbergh became the first person to fly his plane, the Spirit of St. Louis, nonstop between America and Europe.
As an aside, I think it’s fantastic that Lindbergh made the Spirit of St. Louis trip in 33 hours, 30 minutes and 30 seconds. That’s one for the numerophiles. From that moment on Lindbergh became a global sensation. Like a folk hero, dozens of songs and poetry were written for and about him. A dance was created in his name. People wrote books and plays about his achievement and clamored to have a piece of his fame for their very own. For men and women alike, touching him was like experiencing nirvana. To talk to him was like seeing the face of God. He was that famous.
But Charles Lindbergh was not just a pilot. Flying aside, he became interested in finding a way to transplant body organs safely. He became interested in Anne Morrow, enough to marry her and have a son. Thus began Lindbergh’s second bout with unwanted notoriety. When his first born son was kidnapped and killed the entire world was rapt with the horrific drama. Every update had people sitting on the edge of their seats. How could this happen to a famous colonel? When the tragedy had come to its terrible conclusion Lindbergh wanted to give up all aspects of aviation. It all led to publicity. The fame and notoriety got to be too much. Then came the Louise Brooks-like slide into scandal. The world was positioned for another Great War and this time Lindbergh was making headlines for all the wrong reasons. He had been enamored with the Germans for their ingenuity for a long time, but siding with them at this tumultuous time was the absolute wrong move. Berg’s biography of Lindbergh is thorough and compelling through the good, the bad and the ugly.
As another aside, Berg reports Anne’s mother, Elizabeth Morrow, was a “prime exemplar of someone who devoted her life to public service through volunteerism.” That’s all well and good, but if my annual income from only interest and dividends from stocks and bonds was approximately $300,000 (in 1930s dollars), I too would be spending a great deal of time volunteering. If I didn’t need to punch a time clock to pay my bills what else could I do with the hours of my day?
Author fact: Berg was the first and only writer to have been given unrestricted access to the Lindbergh archives.
Book trivia: Lindbergh includes three sections of black and white photographs.
Playlist: “Star-Spangled Banner,” “Marseillaise,” “When Lindy Comes Home,” “Der Lindberghflug,” “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow,” and “Eternal Light,”
Nancy said: Pearl points out Lindbergh contains a beautiful and moving chapter on Lindbergh’s flight.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Flying Above the Clouds” (p 89).
Gann, Ernest. The High and the Mighty. New York: William Sloan Associates, 1953.
Reason read: August is Aviation month.
Ignore the dated details like being introduced to your flight crew before boarding, stewardesses taking your coats as you settle into your seat, it being permissible to smoke once en route and so on…and you will have the classic tale of impending tragedy. The story unfolds in the typical fashion. Readers are introduced to the crew, warts and all. Then, the passengers and all their bad habits. Typical of a suspense thriller is the sense of foreboding. Something is wrong but no one can quite put a finger on the exact problem. Everyone, passengers and crew alike, noticed something “off” but either can’t articulate the worry or just pass it off as part of an overcautious imagination. As a result everyone on board flight four-two-zero keeps mum until it’s too late. It’s extremely interesting to watch the fear build in lead controversial character, Dan Roman.
As an aside, I have a 1953 copy of The High and the Mighty and it is covered in stains and full of small rips. This was a oft-read book!
Author fact: Gann wrote many, many other novels. I am reading Fate is the Hunter and Hostage to Fortune as well.
Book trivia: Best seller. Also made into a movie in 1954 starring who else? John Freaking Wayne. Need. To. See. This.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called what else? “Flying High Above the Clouds” (p 89).