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Chasing Icarus: The Seventeen Days in 1910 That Forever Changed American Aviation Hardcover – April 28, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Those magnificent men in their flying machines were active in October 1910. A dirigible launched a transoceanic attempt from Atlantic City. Balloonists ascended from St. Louis in a contest for longest-flight bragging rights. Heavier-than-air-machines revved up at New York’s Belmont horse track to compete for superlatives in height, speed, and racing. The front-page celebrities of the moment, these aeronauts excited popular interest that Mortimer, capitalizing on archives and contemporary gazettes, restores excellently. No detail, from flying togs to picnic hampers to society gossip, was too tangential for reporters to note. Such period detail embroiders Mortimer’s narrative arcs, of which the first two are straightforward: that dirigible’s crew was rescued at sea, and the balloonists came down in Canadian wilds and elsewhere to wend their ways back to civilization. In contrast, the airplane meet was a harum-scarum drama with wealthy sportsmen—which most entrants besides businessmen Orville and Wilbur Wright were—wrecking their machines and retreating to hotels or hospitals as necessary. For fans of death-defying early aviation, Mortimer’s history is great fun. --Gilbert Taylor

Review

“Mortimer brings to life these early aeronautic pioneers and gives us a unique insight into the public’s love affair with aviation at the dawn of it’s Golden Age.”  —Ballooning magazine

 

“Mortimer weaves his story among the fates of the America, the balloon racers and the aviators who wowed the crowd at Belmont.  The result is a fascinating mix of adventure, friendly competition, bitter rivalry, and even celebrity gossip.”  —BookPage

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Walker & Company; 1st edition (May 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080271711X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802717115
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,145,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By surfimp on June 20, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm an aviation buff, but I think anyone with an interest in turn of the century American history will find this book fascinating. The view into the early days of aviation is tremendously exciting, showing how each of the three disciplines covered - airplanes, balloons and dirigibles - were very much in a state of rapid development, with daring young men (and women!) seeking to push forward the boundaries of the possible.

They were heady times, to be sure, filled with great danger, bitter rivalries and huge opportunities. The author does a wonderful job of really fleshing out each of the main characters and the skipping back and forth between the simultaneous stories - and eventually, showing how they all come together - is very well done. This is an excellent example of popular history done right. I couldn't put it down!
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Format: Hardcover
CHASING ICARUS: THE SEVENTEEN DAYS IN 1910 THAT FOREVER CHANGED AMERICAN AVIATION offers a moment-by-moment survey of a critical moment in aviation history, surveying the history of three events that would bring to life the powerful personalities and aircraft that would change the face of aviation. It's a powerful, inviting read that will appeal to leisure readers as well as aviation history buffs; it belongs in a range of collections.
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Format: Paperback
Anybody with a curiosity, a love, a reverence for history, in this case aviation history, should get a tingle out of this book. Mr. Mortimer puts you in the world of 1910, the culture and the moment, with a steady reporter's gaze that doesn't lack a visitor's wonder at it all. The people are the story here, the new machines, the dangers, the bravery & tragedies- these are icing on the cake.

I wish cinema could do as well with these stories. It had been recommended to me by the excellent NPS interpreter at Kill Devil Hills (not Kitty Hawk) N.C. where Wilbur & Orville first flew, and I am glad he told me about it.
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