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To Conquer the Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight | [James Tobin]

To Conquer the Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight

To Conquer the Air is a hero's tale of overcoming obstacles within and without that plumbs the depths of creativity and character. With a historian's accuracy and a novelist's eye, Tobin has captured the interplay of remarkable personalities at an extraordinary moment in our history. In the centennial year of human flight, To Conquer the Air is itself a heroic achievement.
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Publisher's Summary

"For some years I have been afflicted with the belief that flight is possible to man. My disease has increased in severity and I feel that it will soon cost me an increased amount of money if not my life."

So wrote a quiet young Ohioan in 1900, one in an ancient line of men who had wanted to fly - wanted it passionately, fecklessly, hopelessly. But now, at the turn of the 20th century, Wilbur Wright and a scattered handful of other adventurers conceived a conviction that the dream lay at last within reach, and in a headlong race across 10 years and two continents, they competed to conquer the air. James Tobin, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in biography, has at last given this inspiring story its definitive telling.

For years Wright and his younger brother, Orville, experimented in utter obscurity. Meanwhile, the world watched as the imperious Samuel Langley, armed with a rich contract from the U.S. War Department and all the resources of the Smithsonian Institution, sought to create the first manned flying machine. But while Langley became obsessed with flight as a problem of power, the Wrights grappled with it as a problem of balance. Thus their machines took two very different paths - his toward oblivion, theirs toward the heavens.

To Conquer the Air is a hero's tale of overcoming obstacles within and without that plumbs the depths of creativity and character. With a historian's accuracy and a novelist's eye, Tobin has captured the interplay of remarkable personalities at an extraordinary moment in our history. In the centennial year of human flight, To Conquer the Air is itself a heroic achievement.

© 2003 James Tobin; (P)2003 Simon & Schuster Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Exquisitely read by Stephanie Zimablist and Lolita Davidovich. I was off-put at the idea of a novel about conjoined twins - but with Rose's first words, 'I have never looked into my sister's eyes...' I was completely entranced. Connected at the side of their heads, they face the world together, and, while Ruby is beautiful, Rose's face is lopsided. Each is a totally distinct character and they have lived all their lives in the small town of Leaford where they are known as 'The Girls'. It is Rose who is driven to tell their story, but Ruby wants her voice to be heard too, and as they continue through the present, they look back, separately and always together. Touching, funny - and incredibly real." (Daily Express)
"This unusual novel is so satisfying...a graceful meditation on partnership identity and enduring love." (The Times)
"Perfectly pitched...an utterly heartwarming tale, without any traces of mawkishness. Anyone with a sister will relate to this." (Marie Claire) "This incredible story seems real because of the outstanding characterizations." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Jere Little Rock, AR, USA 05-30-03
    Jere Little Rock, AR, USA 05-30-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Overall
    "A great story"

    To Conquer the Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight, is an insightful, well-researched narrative of the development of heavier-than-air flight by James Towbin. This novel is essentially the story of the Wright brothers and their competition, told in chronological order with scenes switching back and forth between the Wrights and other aviation pioneers to show the tension of the competition in the race to fly. The irony involved creates a surprising amount of suspense for what is essentially a historical novel. Wilbur Wright?s use of the scientific method to develop models and prototypes is impressive. This began with aerodynamic design and control of gliders with the brothers concentrating on flight control and design, while others were more concerned with design and power. Especially insightful was their development of a primitive wind tunnel that they used to test and modify their designs. The family story is included to add to realism to the description of what these pioneers were experiencing at a time when they were making history. The narrator, Boyd Gaines, does a fine job reading the abridged version of the book, adroitly capturing the foreign and regional accents. I was so thoroughly taken with the story that I never lost interest during the six hours and ten minutes duration of the program. This four-star novel lets one sit back, relax, and experience an important time in American history.

    12 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean Gulf Shores, AL, USA 05-27-05
    Sean Gulf Shores, AL, USA 05-27-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    54
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    "The TRUE story"

    A cunning and accurate account on the events and life of the early years of flight. This book encompasses the factors of the how the first flights came to be, in a clear easy to listen story. In addition to the straight facts, the author also includes external influences such as friendships, family and fate that adds marvelous insight!

    The speaker has clear tone, the audio quality is excellent and the writing style makes it difficult to stop. While the history of flight does stretch into modern times, this is only the primal years, during the infancy and the quest for fame.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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