New McCullough biography of the Wright brothers

The Wright Brothers  by David McCullough was released this week

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough was released this week

A new book by esteemed biographer David McCullough about Orville and Wilbur Wright was released this week. I have not yet looked at it - and given how long my reading list is, who knows when I will get to it! - but I definitely want to eventually read it. McCullough is a fantastic writer - I loved John Adams - and I obviously have an interest in aviation. I have visited both the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, NC as well as the Wright Brothers' Bicycle Shop which is part of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park in Dayton, OH.

In North Carolina, while browsing the exhibits, I marveled at the fact that in a mere 60-plus years aviation went from two innovative bicycle shop entrepreneurs undertaking the first short powered flight on the North Carolina Outer Banks to huge international companies sending huge double-decker jet airliners into the sky carrying hundreds of people to far flung spots around the globe. That's not to mention the even more astounding accomplishment of putting man on the moon. The Wright brothers could not have begun to comprehend the significance and world-changing nature of that first flight. I know that McCullough will do their story justice.

Two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize David McCullough tells the dramatic story-behind-the-story about the courageous brothers who taught the world how to fly: Wilbur and Orville Wright.

On a winter day in 1903, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, two unknown brothers from Ohio changed history. But it would take the world some time to believe what had happened: the age of flight had begun, with the first heavier-than-air, powered machine carrying a pilot.

Who were these men and how was it that they achieved what they did?

David McCullough, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, tells the surprising, profoundly American story of Wilbur and Orville Wright.

Far more than a couple of unschooled Dayton bicycle mechanics who happened to hit on success, they were men of exceptional courage and determination, and of far-ranging intellectual interests and ceaseless curiosity, much of which they attributed to their upbringing. The house they lived in had no electricity or indoor plumbing, but there were books aplenty, supplied mainly by their preacher father, and they never stopped reading.

When they worked together, no problem seemed to be insurmountable. Wilbur was unquestionably a genius. Orville had such mechanical ingenuity as few had ever seen. That they had no more than a public high school education, little money and no contacts in high places, never stopped them in their “mission” to take to the air. Nothing did, not even the self-evident reality that every time they took off in one of their contrivances, they risked being killed.

In this thrilling book, master historian David McCullough draws on the immense riches of the Wright Papers, including private diaries, notebooks, scrapbooks, and more than a thousand letters from private family correspondence to tell the human side of the Wright Brothers’ story, including the little-known contributions of their sister, Katharine, without whom things might well have gone differently for them.