From acclaimed historian Lawrence Goldstone comes a thrilling narrative of courage, determination, and competition: the story of the intense rivalry that fueled the rise of American aviation.
The feud between this nation's great air pioneers, the Wright brothers and Glenn Curtiss, was a collision of unyielding and profoundly American personalities. On one side, a pair of tenacious siblings who together had solved the centuries-old riddle of powered, heavier-than-air flight. On the other, an audacious motorcycle racer whose innovative aircraft became synonymous in the public mind with death-defying stunts. For more than a decade, they battled each other in court, at air shows, and in the newspapers. The outcome of this contest of wills would shape the course of aviation history--and take a fearsome toll on the men involved.
"Birdmen" sets the engrossing story of the Wrights' war with Curtiss against the thrilling backdrop of the early years of manned flight, and is rich with period detail and larger-than-life personalities: Thomas Scott Baldwin, or "Cap't Tom" as he styled himself, who invented the parachute and almost convinced the world that balloons were the future of aviation; John Moisant, the dapper daredevil who took to the skies after three failed attempts to overthrow the government of El Salvador, then quickly emerged as a celebrity flyer; and Harriet Quimby, the statuesque silent-film beauty who became the first woman to fly across the English Channel. And then there is Lincoln Beachey, perhaps the greatest aviator who ever lived, who dazzled crowds with an array of trademark twists and dives--and best embodied the romance with death that fueled so many of aviation's earliest heroes.
A dramatic story of unimaginable bravery in the air and brutal competition on the ground, "Birdmen" is at once a thrill ride through flight's wild early years and a surprising look at the personal clash that fueled America's race to the skies.
Advance praise for "Birdmen"
"A riveting narrative about the pioneering era of aeronautics in America and beyond . . . a well-written, thoroughly researched work that is sure to compel readers interested in history, aviation, and invention. Goldstone raises questions of enduring importance regarding innovation and the indefinite exertion of control over ideas that go public."--"Publishers Weekly "(starred review)
"Superbly crafted . . . strengthened by fresh perspectives, rigorous analyses, comprehensible science, and a driving narrative."--"Library Journal "(starred review)
""Birdmen" is so much more than the story of man's leap into the clouds. Exhilarating, exasperating, and inspiring in equal measure, the Wright brothers' tale is a parable for modern times, told in fascinating detail and gripping prose by Lawrence Goldstone."--Dr. Amanda Foreman, author "A World on Fire"
"Meticulously researched and illuminating, "Birdmen" unveils the forgotten flyboys who gave America an invention to win wars, spread peace, and advance her destiny--air power."--Adam Makos, internationally bestselling author of "A Higher Call
"The history of human flight goes way beyond the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk. Lawrence Goldstone skillfully tells the rest of the story about the dreamers history has forgotten, and it's a helluva story superbly told. "Birdmen" is a wondrous journey from takeoff to landing."--Bill Griffeth, author of "By Faith Alone"