13 reviews

The Wright Brothers
by David McCullough

Published: 2015-05-05
Hardcover : 336 pages
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Recommended to book clubs by 13 of 13 members
#1 New York Times bestseller

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 ...
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#1 New York Times bestseller

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.

Editorial Review

An Amazon Best Book of May 2015: Most people recognize the famous black-and-white photo of the Wright brothers on a winter day in 1903, in a remote spot called Kitty Hawk, when they secured their place in history as the first to fly a motor-powered airplane. That brilliant moment is the cornerstone of the new masterful book by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough, who brings his deft touch with language and his eye for humanizing details to the unusually close relationship between a pair of brothers from Dayton, Ohio, who changed aviation history. Bicycle shop owners by day, Wilbur and Orville taught themselves flight theory through correspondence with the Smithsonian and other experts. But the brothers soon realized that theory was no match for practical testing, and they repeatedly risked life and limb in pursuit of their goal—including when Orville fractured a leg and four ribs in a 75-foot plunge to the ground. McCullough’s narration of ventures such as this—their famous first flight at Kitty Hawk; the flight in Le Mans, France that propelled the brothers to international fame; the protracted patent battles back at home; and the early death of elder brother Wilbur—will immerse readers in the lives of the Wright family. Like other great biographies before it, The Wright Brothers tells the story about the individuals behind the great moments in history, while never sacrificing beauty in language and reverence in tone. – Manfred Collado


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Discussion Questions

Suggested by Members

Outlet group leader opened discussion asking each of us to provide a short descriptive memory from each of us about our first time flying. It was a great conversation starter.
by mindysauve (see profile) 08/27/16

How can human obsessions (like Orville's "fire" analogy) be beneficial or detrimental to mankind?
by [email protected] (see profile) 05/08/16

Fathers instilling intellectual curiosity, work ethnic in sons.
How quickly technology has evolved.
Success is actually hard work, dedication, a driven attitude. Genius helps.
by bcarroll (see profile) 01/12/16

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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Book Club Recommendations

by madriver (see profile) 09/09/16

Member Reviews

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by Pam B. (see profile) 01/18/18

  "The Wright Brothers"by Joan P. (see profile) 10/06/16

Though a bit technical...ok a lot technical...it was an interesting read and a fascinating look into the times, history and into the family of the Wrights...I really liked it.....

  "Very Inspiring Biography"by Marti S. M. (see profile) 10/05/16

We have all heard about the Wright Brothers, but little did we know the entire inside story of the effort it took to accomplish what they did with their truly focused efforts.

  "Had an interesting discussion"by Maria L. (see profile) 09/09/16

We all learned a lot about how air travel began, and were impressed with the brothers who figured out how to do that, without the benefit of a formal education.

  "The Wright Brothers"by Mary G. (see profile) 08/27/16

First half was very interesting, but became to arduous with too much detail and description.

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