Engineering & Transportation
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Race to the Sky: The Wright Brothers Versus the United States Government Hardcover – September 5, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0786415946 ISBN-10: 0786415940 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company; First Edition edition (September 5, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786415940
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786415946
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 7.2 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,794,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Contends that the Wright brothers became involved in a race with federal entities to build the first practical airplane...nicely written" --Choice

"Very interesting book...this history is fascinating...recommended" --Catholic Library World

"Numerous photos" --College & Research Libraries. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Stephen B. Goddard of Hartford, Connecticut, is also the author of Colonel Albert Pope and His American Dream Machines: The Life and Times of a Bicycle Tycoon Turned Automotive Pioneer (2000, $39.95). He practices law and teaches history at Trinity College.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Speed Readers on July 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
As one would expect of a topic of such singular historic import, there exists an extensive body of literature. The Wrights themselves were prolific diarists and recorders, there are piles of contemporary primary accounts--the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress could keep you occupied for decades--not to mention reams of commentary written in later years. Published in the centennial year of those first flights at Kill Devil Hills, author Goddard feels that a key driver of those events, the US government's "national crusade to achieve first flight," is still not as well known or understood as another momentous government initiative, President Kennedy's "Race to the Moon" program decades later.

Goddard is not only a historian but also a lawyer (and taught public policy at Trinity College) and thus is able to combine particularly salient strands of the story. The book is very engagingly written--this is no legal brief but a veritable nail-biter! Lots of quotes from the Wrights and from other books, easy on the eyes, photos are credited, chapter notes bundled at the end, very extensive Bibliography, thorough but visually crowded Index. When you're done reading you'll be sorry it's over.

Full review at Copyright 2011, Sabu Advani.
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While there seems to be evidence to support Goddard's premise -- that the Wright brothers were in a struggle with elements of the power structure in Washington, DC -- his presentation is marred by his incomplete understanding of the technology of pioneer aviation. He seems to have only a superficial knowledge of the nuts and bolts of aeronautics. More worrisome are the sources he cites. When you run across an interesting observation and follow a citation to a source to learn more, oftentimes the citations don't line up with the source or the source fails to support the observation. You're left with one of two conclusions -- either Goddard can't get his sources straight or he is making them up. There is some food for thought here, but if you intend to use this book for research, you would be better off going to the sources and drawing your own conclusions.
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