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Publisher's Summary

In late May 1927, an inexperienced and unassuming 25-year-old Air Mail pilot from rural Minnesota stunned the world by making the first non-stop transatlantic flight. A spectacular feat of individual daring and collective technological accomplishment, Charles Lindbergh's flight from New York to Paris ushered in America's age of commercial aviation.
In The Flight of the Century, Thomas Kessner takes a fresh look at one of America's greatest moments, explaining how what was essentially a publicity stunt became a turning point in history. He vividly recreates the flight itself and the euphoric reaction to it on both sides of the Atlantic, and argues that Lindbergh's amazing feat occurred just when the world - still struggling with the disillusionment of World War I - desperately needed a hero to restore a sense of optimism and innocence.
Kessner also shows how new forms of mass media made Lindbergh into the most famous international celebrity of his time, casting him in the role of a humble yet dashing American hero of rural origins and traditional values. Much has been made of Lindbergh's personal integrity and his refusal to cash in on his fame. But Kessner reveals that Lindbergh was closely allied with, and managed by, a group of powerful businessmen - Harry Guggenheim, Dwight Morrow, and Henry Breckenridge chief among them - who sought to exploit aviation for mass transport and massive profits. Their efforts paid off as commercial air traffic soared from 6,000 passengers in 1926 to 173,000 passengers in 1929.
Kessner's book is the first to fully explore Lindbergh's central role in promoting the airline industry - the rise of which has influenced everything from where we live to how we wage war and do business. The Flight of the Century sheds new light on one of America's fascinatingly enigmatic heroes and most transformative moments.
©2010 Thomas Kessner (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Donald Hill on 11-21-17

A Comprehensive Biography of Lindbergh

Thomas Kessner has written a masterful account of Charles Lindbergh with his involvement in the rise of American aviation.. As much as I am an aviation enthusiast, I realized how little I knew about one of Americas most influential aviators.

The subtitle of the book is "Charles Lindbergh and the Rise of American Aviation", is truly the theme of the book. Kessner does a great job of telling that story. He covers Lindbergh in his early days. He writes about the complex relationship with his mother and father and how their divorce affected Charles in his youth. The author devotes a significant amount of time on the relationship between Lindbergh and his mother, which is very revealing in how it shaped his personality.

Kessner's coverage of the story regarding the transatlantic competition and Lindbergh's eventual triumph is told really well. This part of the story does not drag on, he really makes it all come to life!

Kessner devotes a large part of the text to Linbergh's effect on the rise of American aviation. This is truly the underlying theme. He spends many pages of the book discussing his courtship with Ann Morrow, their marriage, and her involvement with him and his career as a pilot, and Ann's eventual certification as a pilot too.

What I found a bit odd was that Kessner writes the final chapter of the book on the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh Jr. (their first child). It is followed by the Epilogue that merely mentions the rocky relationship with the Roosevelt administration, when that was such a large part of his persona with the general public, which prior to that, adored him as a great hero. This part of his life and acceptance of Nazi fascism, turned many fans of Lindbergh into many that were loathe of him due to his political stance leading up to World War II. Just a mere mention of his time spent in the Pacific theater during the war is recorded in this book.

However, Kessner names his Epilogue: "The End of Heroes", for a good reason. He exposes the many flaws of this great figure, telling history at face value. There are plenty of shocks and surprises revealed about Lindbergh in his later years, which I will leave to the reader/listener.

In short, it was a very good read. I was totally captivated by the story. I found that there is so much to learn on any subject. I read 58 books this year, so far. This is definitely in the top 10!

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By Glenn H. Hancock on 11-18-14

So Bad I'm asking for my money back!!

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Having someone read the book that actually knows how to read.

Has The Flight of the Century: Charles Lindbergh and the Rise of American Aviation turned you off from other books in this genre?

Its the second book with a sorry person reading the contents so if they continue to be like this then yes.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Bob McGraw?

A 4 year old? He is so bad I don't know what to say.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Anger over the patchwork of recordings and in a hurry reading. Very irritating.

Any additional comments?

This book seems like he was distracted and left of entire paragraphs at points where it was required to come back in and record them over with a completely different tempo and sound quality. It is driving me crazy. I'd like to get my money back.

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