The Book Worm: Review: The Aviators

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Review: The Aviators

Book Review: The Aviators: Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and the Epic Age of Flight, by Winston Groom


Written by gifted storyteller Winston Groom (author of Forrest Gump), The Aviators tells the saga of three extraordinary aviators--Charles Lindbergh, Eddie Rickenbacker, and Jimmy Doolittle--and how they redefine heroism through their genius, daring, and uncommon courage.

This is the fascinating story of three extraordinary heroes who defined aviation during the great age of flight. These cleverly interwoven tales of their heart-stopping adventures take us from the feats of World War I through the heroism of World War II and beyond, including daring military raids and survival-at-sea, and will appeal to fans of Unbroken, The Greatest Generation, and Flyboys. With the world in peril in World War II, each man set aside great success and comfort to return to the skies for his most daring mission yet. Doolittle, a brilliant aviation innovator, would lead the daring Tokyo Raid to retaliate for Pearl Harbor; Lindbergh, hero of the first solo flight across the Atlantic, would fly combat missions in the South Pacific; and Rickenbacker, World War I flying ace, would bravely hold his crew together while facing near-starvation and circling sharks after his plane went down in a remote part of the Pacific. Groom's rich narrative tells their intertwined stories--from broken homes to Medals of Honor (all three would receive it); barnstorming to the greatest raid of World War II; front-page triumph to anguished tragedy; and near-death to ultimate survival--as all took to the sky, time and again, to become exemplars of the spirit of the "greatest generation."

Genre: non-fiction

Publishing date: September 2015

Mature content: no

Review: This book is published by National Geographic, and to read it is a bit like watching a documentary on the dawn of modern aviation. The men and women that risked their lives in those early days have always fascinated me. Back then, planes were basic structures held together with little more than paper, glue, and a lot of faith. They crashed more often than not, and crashes almost inevitably meant the death of pilots. There were no reliable instruments and something as simple and common as a foggy day was an insurmountable (and deadly) obstacle. 

The book follows the lives of three men in particular: Charles Lindbergh, Eddie Rickenbacker, and Jimmy Doolittle. They were not only brave enough to fly those early planes, they were visionaries and they gave priceless contributions for the safety of the aeronautics industry. Jimmy Doolittle, for example, was the first pilot to demonstrate that a plane could be flown based on instruments alone, which was a major breakthrough at the time.

But more than just describing the victories and feats of these three men, the book gives us insights into their lives, what made them tick, their hopes and dreams and, ultimately, what made them who they were. Flawed, like all human beings, but standing out from the rest. 

The Aviators just doesn't get five stars from me because in places it is so detailed that almost makes you lose sight of the main subject. This happens, for example, while describing Rickenbacker's service in France during WWI. There are so many people mentioned, so many things happening at the same time, that after a while I was completely lost. Other than that, it's a great, educational book that gives us insight on how something that we now take for granted came to be, and how many human lives were sacrificed so that we can safely fly around the world today.

My favorite quote, that really defines what The Aviators is about:

"These men did it all themselves: they set the  standards, assumed the risks, and flew like shooting stars across the arc of American history. They were raised in an age of horsecarts and buggies and lived to see men fly to the moon, and they could claim a part of that for themselves, because they were the pioneers."

Happy readings,

the book worm, book blog

1 comment:

  1. This book sounds fascinating! Appreciated your heads-up about it getting too detailed at times. Thanks for sharing with us at Booknificent Thursday on this week!


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