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Publisher's Summary

Two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize David McCullough tells the dramatic story behind the story about the courageous brothers who taught the world how to fly: Wilbur and Orville Wright.
On December 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Wilbur and Orville Wright's Wright Flyer became the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve controlled, sustained flight with a pilot aboard. The Age of Flight had begun. How did they do it? And why? David McCullough tells the extraordinary and truly American story of the two brothers who changed the world.
Sons of an itinerant preacher and a mother who died young, Wilbur and Orville Wright grew up on a small sidestreet in Dayton, Ohio, in a house that lacked indoor plumbing and electricity but was filled with books and a love of learning. The brothers ran a bicycle shop that allowed them to earn enough money to pursue their mission in life: flight. In the 1890s flying was beginning to advance beyond the glider stage, but there were major technical challenges the Wrights were determined to solve. They traveled to North Carolina's remote Outer Banks to test their plane because there they found three indispensable conditions: constant winds, soft surfaces for landings, and privacy.
Flying was exceedingly dangerous; the Wrights risked their lives every time they flew in the years that followed. Orville nearly died in a crash in 1908 but was nursed back to health by his sister, Katharine - an unsung and important part of the brothers' success and of McCullough's book. Despite their achievement the Wrights could not convince the US government to take an interest in their plane until after they demonstrated its success in France, where the government instantly understood the importance of their achievement. Now, in this revelatory book, master historian David McCullough draws on nearly 1,000 letters of family correspondence plus diaries, notebooks, and family scrapbooks in the Library of Congress to tell the full story of the Wright brothers and their heroic achievement.
©2015 David McCullough (P)2015 Simon & Schuster Audio
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Critic Reviews

"David McCullough's reading of his new biography of the Wright Brothers is a stellar production on every count, and a supremely satisfying listening experience. McCullough's calm, avuncular voice, familiar to millions from his PBS productions, is for many of us the voice of history itself." ( AudioFile)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Vince on 08-20-15

Great Story but narration is a little boring

What did you love best about The Wright Brothers?

The way they were able to make anything they needed on their own. True pioneers

What did you like best about this story?

Great story and learned a lot about the Wright Brothers I didn't know

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

No, it was a tired narration

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Shep on 07-05-15

Not as much as expected

I feel badly not giving the book a more positive review. Unlike many of McCullough's other biographies, I was disappointed in the lack of depth in this book as well as the vast parts of the Wright Brothers' lives that were given minimal treatment, if any.

The positives:
This book focuses on the incredibly strong personal character of the Wright brothers and their family, and highlights the interesting Victorian times that formed their characters.

Much detail is paid to the airplane and they flying, as should be. I also appreciated the strong emphasis on the Wright's family relationships as exhibited through their letters.

I enjoyed much of the anecdotal background material. The examples of the difficulties in getting to Kitty Hawk and in communicating from there, for example.

The negatives:
I was quite surprised at the degree of positive spin that is represented in this book. The Wrights could be much more small and vindictive (for example in their patent fights) than this book relates.

Not much attention is paid to the business side of their aviation business: How they made their money, their arrangements for licensing their designs and how they made money in the licensing, their patent fights and the poor relationship with Glenn Curtiss. For example, McCullough spends a reasonable amount of effort discussing the context of JP Langley's failed exploits on the Potomac. But as an equally important matter of context, the author barely touches Alexander Bell's Aerial Experiment Association (AEA), Curtiss' experiments and innovations in aviation, or the ensuing patent wars which consumed the Wright Company and Curtiss for many years. In omitting these important factors in the Wright's lives, the opportunity to relate motivations and the way they handled these issues are also lost.

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12 of 14 people found this review helpful

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