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The Aviators: Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and the Epic Age of Flight Hardcover – November 5, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is a winner, combining an engaging narrative and appropriate documentation into one solid study of three iconic aviators and their times." --Library Journal, starred review

"A gripping document of a brilliant era in our history and a few of the men who helped make it so." --Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“As Mr. Groom's absorbing narrative unfolds, we see one man enduring a horrendous ordeal on the open sea; another nearly losing his life in a bombing run; and yet another finding a sort of redemption for his battered public image.”
The Wall Street Journal

"Groom’s rich narrative tell the intertwined stories of these aeronautical pioneers as they took to the air to become exemplars of the spirit of the “greatest generation.” --Flight Journal

"That the imagination that conceived Forrest Gump could conjure up fresh ways to tell stories of American history is astonishing...Groom's epic story is a tribute...Readers of all his fiction and nonfiction might well feel inclined to testify that he is fast becoming a national treasure. Forrest Gump would agree." --The Advocate

“Winston Groom writes history like a novelist. Readers will appreciate his careful and accurate use of aviation and military terminology, and description of each aircraft in the narratives. Groom handles this complex subject in clear, understandable terms, woven into a great air war story.”  –American Aviation Historical Society

"Groom is at his best sharing history through the personal stories of the people involved. Not only is this history a learning experience, it is a joy to experience the suspenseful adventures of these extraordinary aviators as they spent their lives developing and promoting aviation in this country. An important narrative not to be missed!" --Stephanie Crowe, Page and Palette Bookstore

This will be an alternate selection in History Book Club, Military Book Club, and Book-of-the-Month Club.

About the Author

WINSTON GROOM is the author of 14 previous books of nonfiction and fiction, including Shiloh 1862, Vicksburg 1863, Patriotic Fire, Shrouds of Glory, Forrest Gump, and Conversations with the Enemy (with Duncan Spencer), which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He lives with his wife and daughter in Point Clear, Alabama.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic (November 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426211562
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426211560
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (241 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Morty on December 29, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had high hopes for this book, but I ended up being a little disappointed and questioning of the author's credibility. While giving an overview of German conquests early in WWII, he includes the assertion that Finland and Sweden were conquered by Nazi armies. First, Finland was a German ally throughout the war, and second, Sweden was famously neutral throughout the war! It's such an egregious factual error that it made me question the credibility of the rest of the book. He later asserts that a "significant portion of the American Army...including the 101st Airborne Division" was surrounded by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. Again, this is just plain dead wrong...the 101st was the ONLY division (of nearly 50) of the American Army in Europe surrounded by the Germans during that battle...or any battle, for that matter. These are issues of the most basic military history that he gets absurdly wrong.

I didn't keep notes, so those are the ones that stood out in particular, but there were others that weren't as patently obvious. He also seems to exaggerate the influence of the three Aviators at several points. For instance, he claims one was directed to inform air corps personnel during speeches in N. Africa and the Mediterranean theaters that their minimum tours had been extended. I highly doubt a visiting civilian would be tasked with personally informing thousands of airmen of a MAJOR policy change in their assignments. I suppose it's possible in the remotest sense, but I rolled my eyes at the likelihood of it.

He also claims the Doolittle raid essentially led to what ultimately became the Japanese defeat. Hmmm, every other historian and war leaders at the time agreed it's only real value was a morale boost...and nothing more.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Jess Hayes on November 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Winston Groom's prose never disappoints, and this gripping history of three aviation giants is no exception. Following the lives of Charles Lindberg, Jimmy Doolittle, and Eddie Rickenbacker, this engaging account provides a personal angle to this pivotal era in human innovation and heroism. Although aviation experts may not be surprised by much of the information herein, this is a nonetheless well-researched and well-written account that I found very fresh and insightful. Although it may be difficult to imagine a time when air travel was in its early stages, Groom's storytelling brings this unforgettable era in history alive with an intriguing attention to detail that will keep you turning the pages. Along the likes of An Aviator's Wife, I find this a fine specimen of non-fiction that every aviation enthusiast or history buff should read.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Richardson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
For me this is like a Paul Harvey radio broadcast where he liked to enlighten listeners to "the rest of the story" as it were. Now I'm sure true historians and history buffs will not be shocked or surprised by the contents of this book. There are plenty of large volume bios and autobiographies available like Lindbergh, I Could Never Be So Lucky Again: An Autobiography of James H. ""Jimmy"" Doolittle with Carroll V. Glinesand Rickenbacker: An Autobiography.

The three aviators featured are Eddie Rickenbacker,first fame as a champion race car driver and world war I hero, Charles Lindbergh , he of the first non stop flight across the Atlantic in 1927 and Jimmy Doolittle who pioneered flying without the aid of visuals , just by instruments in 1929.

This reader was familiar with the highlights only of each of these great aviators/men and so this book which touched on their early career heroics and then followed through with lesser known but not lesser interesting or lesser important involvements in WWII all in a snappy 400 plus pages was a very enlightening read and just the right length. As I mentioned earlier if anyone wants to get truly intimate with finer details on any of these pilots those books are available but the beauty of this book is that it takes three amazing men whose stories work well in a single volume and I guess you could liken this to a "greatest hits" so to speak.

If you are an historian this may be redundant for you.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By P. Eisenman on November 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I enjoyed THE AVIATORS. An interesting and entertaining look at three of the most important aviation pioneers. Well-written and well-researched, it held my attention throughout. Although I'd already read a goodly number of books about these men and their exploits, I must say that I learned still more from Mr. Groom's book.

While THE AVIATORS is not an in-depth, highly detailed biography of any of the three men, Lindbergh, Rickenbacker or Doolittle, it does cover all the bases of each of their lives from birth to death. The only problem I had was keeping things sorted out in my brain, as the intertwining stories of three similar men left me having to go back to refresh my memory as to who's father or mother did what, which one dropped out of college, or who bailed out when?? As the three men knew each other and their lives kept crossing paths, I can understand why Mr. Groom wrote his book in the manner he did. Other than being three books OR perhaps breaking the book into three separate sections (one for each man), I don't really know how one could avoid this problem and that would rather defeat the entire purpose of the book! I guess the best you can do is pay close attention to what you're reading!

I'd give FOUR STARS to THE AVIATORS. Sure to be of interest to anybody who likes either military or early aviation. While I'd say this is more of a lightweight history volume, there's some interesting material that will probably be new to you! Blurb says it will contain two 8-page photo spreads, plus maps (all lacking from the galley proof I read). One gripe for the publisher--MAKE THE ASTERISKS MORE OBVIOUS! The microscopic ones in the proof were next to impossible for the eye to catch! Nothing more aggravating than getting to the bottom of the page, finding a footnote and having to go back and see where and to what it applies! (Not a criticism of the book--only the typeface in the proof, which I hope they changed before publication.)
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