Wright Brothers, The by David McCullough


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I have a tendency-out of morbid curiosity, I suppose-to read through some of the negative reviews of a book, particularly a book that I have enjoyed. Perhaps it’s my subconscious way of trying to see a work from all perspectives in order to balance out my biased enthusiasm.

Frankly, I was a little surprised at some of the critiques made.

A common complaint seems to be that McCullough does not delve deeply enough into the technical aspects of aeronautics or expand his narrative to thoroughly cover the modern history of aviation. However, as the title of this book indicates, the story’s primary focus is on the Wright brothers and their particular contribution.

Another related complaint is that the brothers were simply not interesting enough to write a biography about. If by “not interesting,” one means that they were not debauched, egotistical and/or neurotic, then yes, they were not interesting.

However, I found their unshakably straight-laced demeanor rather refreshing. I also got a kick out of the French’s reaction to Wilber upon his arrival to their country. They were absolutely stunned that he didn’t smoke, drink, or chase women. In addition, he (and later Orville) gained some notoriety in France with their child-like fascination with a juggling toy called the diabolo. In the end, I gained a great deal of respect and admiration for, not just the brothers, but their whole family. With all of the wealth and fame they achieved, never once did it seem to turn their heads.

There was one critique that I did tend to agree with. I listened to this as an audiobook with McCullough himself reading. Normally, I love listening to McCullough narrate, but for this audiobook, he just sounded tired.

Needless to say, I enjoyed this book.

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