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'The Life and Times of Robert G. Fowler' Paperback – June 8, 1999
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
It is fun to remember the early days of powered flight as we approach the 100th anniversary in 2003. The book "The Life andTimes of Robert G. Fowler," by Maria Schell Burden succeeds brilliantly in bringing to life the awe and excitement generated by the flying machine that has opened up a new era in human transportation that we now all take for granted. Fowler was one of the early, and successful aviators. Trained by the Wright brothers in 1911, Fowler was the first official entrant in the $50,000 cross-country challenge sponsored by Hearst and was the only one to fly from West to East. The adventures of Fowler during this race occupy a major portion of the book.
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Pages are spent on his misfortunes in California and New Mexico (he was grounded in both areas for extended periods of time), but very little is recounted of the rest of his trip (including a heroic trip to bring medicine by air to a community surrounded by flood waters - mentioned in only a few vague words). Very strange since the author apparently had access to Fowler's trip diaries.
The recounting of the first ocean-to-ocean flight in Panama by Fowler is much more satisfying. The remainder of his career is dealt with in very sketchy form. Perhaps because Fowler out-lived many of his contemporaries to a ripe old age makes his story less compelling. A fuller telling of his achievements needs to be done.
On the bright side, there are many photographs of his transcontinental and ocean-to-ocean trips. Though some are grainy (reproductions of grainy contemporary news photos) these alone make the book a worthwhile investment.