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The Flight of the Century: Charles Lindbergh and the Rise of American Aviation (Pivotal Moments in American History) Kindle Edition

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Length: 332 pages Word Wise: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Kessner approaches the much-analyzed Charles Lindbergh by asking why “other fliers made records but he made history.” Readily detailing the pertinent moments in the aviator’s history, from his childhood to Atlantic flight to the devastating loss of his oldest child, Kessner also writes about media coverage of Lindbergh’s exploits and the intense focus of the press long after he flew from New York to Paris. He concludes that Lindbergh’s fame was based not only on his achievement but also on the fact that he flew alone (his competitors all flew in teams) and that he refuted the trappings of fame, turning down movie deals, sponsorships, endorsements, and outright attempts at monetary gifts. Young and self-deprecating, Lindbergh paid public fealty to the World War I aviators who came before him. Kessner shows how the man converged perfectly with his times. In a field of conventional biographies, Kessner’s (including copious end notes) stands out as he asks what made this man famous and reveals that Lindbergh’s story tells as much about us as it does about him. --Colleen Mondor


"Kessner's fresh perspective breathes new life into Lindbergh's tale." --David Cohen, Philadelphia Inquirer

"It's difficult to imagine how anything new could be written about Charles Lindbergh. But Thomas Kessner has examined his subject more deeply than any other biographer.... Kessner weaves a fascinating tale, chronicling Lindy's many accomplishments but also revealing someone who clearly never appreciated the full extent of his notoriety." --Aviation History

"Proving again that true tales are every bit as strange and sometimes even more compelling than fictional ones, Thomas Kessner's The Flight of the Century not only evokes a critical moment in our history, but re-introduces an iconic American whom we thought we knew, but really didn't. This is great history--a fascinating story told by a masterful storyteller."--David Nasaw, author of Andrew Carnegie and The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst

"In his brilliant and sensitively drawn portrait of Charles Lindbergh, Thomas Kessner not only brings this deeply flawed American hero to life; he vividly reconstructs the historical context in which the aviator's life played out. Kessner deftly reveals how and why Lindbergh and his flight became a juggernaut through the years of prosperity and depression, the battle over fascism and the fear of communism, and the moral and social dilemmas prompted by science and technological advances. This book is a must for anyone hoping to understand modern America."--Carol Berkin, author of Revolutionary Mothers and Civil War Wives

"The splendid, far-reaching analysis of one of American history's most enigmatic figures will satisfy the scholar, and the deft use of colorful anecdotes will appeal to general readers. Highly recommended." --Library Journal

"Mr. Kessner has the skills of a professional historian and a nice turn of phrase." --Daniel Ford, The Wall Street Journal

"Kessner provides an excellent addition to the literature on Charles Lindbergh and his remarkable flight from New York to Paris. The book will provide researchers with a deeper understanding of Lindbergh's complex character, including how this engineering school dropout could plan such a difficult flight while others, better educated and financed, had failed.... This fascinating account will be valuable to readers interested in aviation history. Highly recommended." --Choice

"Lindbergh's life and his influence on aviation in particular has been rendered in all its contradictions in Thomas Kessner's The Flight of the Century." --In Flight USA

"a thoughtful, well-written and well-researched historical synthesis on Lindbergh and his significance for American culture" --American Studies Journal"

Product Details

  • File Size: 890 KB
  • Print Length: 332 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0199931178
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (May 31, 2010)
  • Publication Date: June 22, 2010
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003OQUB5Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #250,510 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful By TEQ on November 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I generally don't write reviews, but after reading Flight of the Century, I was puzzled as to why it receive such high ratings. A new genre of history books has emerged in the past decade that basically anthologizes past books and research on a subject, offering little new information. This is one of them. Worse, it seems to me to cast Charles Lindbergh as far more influential to the development of commercial aviation than he actually was.

Granted, Lindbergh was an exceptionally gifted flyer, who combined meticulous preparation with almost supernatural navigational skills. He also devoted extraordinary efforts as a good-will ambassador to publicize commercial aviation following his transatlantic flight. His cross-country travels and tours over Central & South America were extremely dangerous yet helped develop new routes over uncharted territory. In some ways, Lindbergh made flying look too easy, since almost daily, other plane, pilots & passengers were going down for any number of reasons.

The author suggests that only by the development of huge aviation conglomerates, in which Lindbergh participated with great financial reward, was commercial aviation progress to viability. True, but only to an extent. No other figures or technological breakthroughs in the development are mentioned. Thus, no Wiley Post, who advanced high altitude flight, no Jimmy Doolittle and the creation of Sperry's gyroscopic compass & artificial horizon. No Howard Hughes, or the development of high-octane gasoline. Worse, the author ignores the DC 2 & DC3, on which a small company named for it's genius owner, Donald Douglas staked it's success or failure.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By wogan TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
`Flight of the Century' does an excellent job of examining the effect, the how and why and importance of both Charles Lindbergh and what his flight across the Atlantic in the Spirit of St. Louis meant. The flaws of the man and of the American press are not missed. Lindbergh's lack of empathy, aloofness and irritation with journalists and public intrusion on his privacy are acknowledged in many instances.

This truly tells the tale of the beginnings of American aviation and of world wide celebrity. The flight itself is documented, especially Lindberg's connection with the Spirit of St. Louis is shown in how, even though his flight was solo, he constantly referred to it as We- his plane was his partner. Lindbergh's diplomatic triumph in Paris upon landing and in Mexico during one of his tours where he erased the stigma of anti-US resentment, resulting in the solving of a 10 year old oil controversy are well documented. He is given credit for many cities building air strips and popularizing flying. During his tour of the US more than 40% of the population saw him and most changed their minds in favor of aviation. His help in building the civilian aviation industry of America is examined.
His boyish good looks and the fact he was a solo hero, showing courage and even better, the fact he was a 'country' boy all contributed to the world wide infatuation with him and then with his wife Anne. The kidnapping of his son and the son's death and the effect on Anne and their relationship is covered

The book's introduction does a credible job in summing up his celebrity and the reason so many powerful men took him under their wing. An epilogue sums up his life from his escape from the US after his son's death and his fall from grace in the support of Germany and its' racist policies.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jake12 on September 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Thomas Kessners' contribution to this era and to the body of knowledge regarding Lindbergh is immeasurable. This book is a highly enjoyable and interesting read. It is exceedingly well researched and has taught me a great deal about the enigmatic Charles Lindbergh. I highly recommend this book by the very talented author.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin Alexander on June 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In "The Flight of the Century," author Thomas Kessner analyzes the connection between the Lindbergh flight and the growth of the aviation industry, and explores the rise and decline of an international hero along with the great price that heroism brings. In addition, while the book is not packaged as a biography of Charles Lindbergh, much of it reads like one--and a very lucid, engaging one. We feel the ups and downs of Lindbergh's childhood and education, his family relationships and friendships, the tenderness and the tumult of his marriage to Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and his personal foibles, down to the specifics of the practical jokes he enjoyed. In one especially noteworthy chapter, Kessner provides a masterful narrative of the flight itself, vividly reconstructing the sights and sounds and even hallucinations that Lindbergh later recalled having experienced. Later sections on Lindbergh's forays into medical research, and his troubling political stances during the World War II years, also illuminate much. This is an outstanding piece of scholarship--and a great read as well.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on November 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The Flight of the Century: Charles Lindbergh and the Rise of American Aviation tells of an airmail pilot from rural Minnesota who made the first nonstop transatlantic flight. This recounts his 23-hour flight and the reaction to it on both sides of the Atlantic, explaining how an obscure international competition made history and made Lindbergh the most celebrated pilot of his time. A fine, intriguing story uses Lindbergh's experience to explain the history of aviation as well as his life and influence.
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