I just finished this newest book by noted historian David McCullough. It is a thoroughly researched story of Wilbur and Orville Wright, who, as we all know, invented and flew the first heavier-than-air, motorized aircraft at Kitty Hawk, NC back in 1903.
By all accounts, the Wrights were wonderful fellows, honest, hard-working, smart, the true embodiment of the "can do" spirit of which all Americans pride themselves. McCullough makes no secret of his admiration of them.
I have to be honest when I tell you that I found a portion of this book hard going. Especially the early parts when McCullough dwells on the scientific and mechanical parts of the story when the Wrights were actually coming up with the design elements of their flying machine. I suspect that true airplane buffs - yeah, I am talking to you, Tim Baker - and those of an engineering bent will eat this stuff up, but it wasn't for me.
To me, the book really picked up after Wilbur and Orville got their machine off the ground, and then had to go out and sell it to the public. Oh, the general public loved it, but the US Government was skeptical at first, and the Wrights actually had to go to Europe, France in particular, to actually sell the idea of the practical applications of their Wright Flyer. That is when the story really got good for me.
What I learned, and what I should have known, was how much the Wrights actually flew their planes. I knew that, yeah, they invented it, but I never realized that they flew the things all the time in their efforts to sell the idea to the world. Makes sense when you think of it because, really, who else was there to fly it?
It's a great story and a good book about two authentic geniuses who really did change history.