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The Wright Brothers Audiobook

The Wright Brothers

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Publisher's Summary

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 December 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Wilbur and Orville Wright's Wright Flyer became the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve controlled, sustained flight with a pilot aboard. The Age of Flight had begun. How did they do it? And why? David McCullough tells the extraordinary and truly American story of the two brothers who changed the world.

Sons of an itinerant preacher and a mother who died young, Wilbur and Orville Wright grew up on a small sidestreet in Dayton, Ohio, in a house that lacked indoor plumbing and electricity but was filled with books and a love of learning. The brothers ran a bicycle shop that allowed them to earn enough money to pursue their mission in life: flight. In the 1890s flying was beginning to advance beyond the glider stage, but there were major technical challenges the Wrights were determined to solve. They traveled to North Carolina's remote Outer Banks to test their plane because there they found three indispensable conditions: constant winds, soft surfaces for landings, and privacy.

Flying was exceedingly dangerous; the Wrights risked their lives every time they flew in the years that followed. Orville nearly died in a crash in 1908 but was nursed back to health by his sister, Katharine - an unsung and important part of the brothers' success and of McCullough's book. Despite their achievement the Wrights could not convince the US government to take an interest in their plane until after they demonstrated its success in France, where the government instantly understood the importance of their achievement. Now, in this revelatory book, master historian David McCullough draws on nearly 1,000 letters of family correspondence plus diaries, notebooks, and family scrapbooks in the Library of Congress to tell the full story of the Wright brothers and their heroic achievement.

©2015 David McCullough (P)2015 Simon & Schuster Audio

What the Critics Say

"David McCullough's reading of his new biography of the Wright Brothers is a stellar production on every count, and a supremely satisfying listening experience. McCullough's calm, avuncular voice, familiar to millions from his PBS productions, is for many of us the voice of history itself." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.6 (9025 )
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  •  
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 09-03-16
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 09-03-16 Member Since 2015

    Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.

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    "BIRDS FLY, SO WHY CAN'T I"

    “The Wright Brothers” must have wondered—Birds fly, so why can’t I? David McCullough writes and narrates a memoir of the Wright Brothers that perfectly turns wonder into reality. Orville and Wilbur Wright are the first to design, build, and fly an airplane that demonstrates human control of flight. They were not the first humans to fly, but they were the first to fly like birds; i.e. flying with nature, and intent. Before the Wright brothers, flying is left to man’s faith in God and luck; after the Wright brothers, flying is firmly within the grasp of humanity.

    Two farm boys are raised in a family of seven (a mother, father, sister, and four brothers). Neither Orville, or Wilbur are college graduates. Both are born to a mother (Susan Catherine Koerner) who graduates from Hartford College as the top mathematician in her class. This is a woman who becomes a housewife to an ordained minister. She exemplifies independence, intelligence, persistence, and selflessness. Through nature and nurture, Orville and Wilbur become the talk of Dayton, Ohio, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Paris, Washington DC, and, eventually, the wide world.

    McCullough implies “The Wright Brothers” story is proof of the truth of the American Dream. With hard work, persistence, and intelligence, success is every American’s opportunity. In history, ghosts of past and present, challenge that belief. But, for white Americans in the early twentieth century, the dream is made real by McCullough’s entertaining and informative story about the Wright family.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sara 07-10-16
    Sara 07-10-16

    🌹🥀🌸🌺🌸🥀🌹

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    "Disappointing"

    I am so surprised by how much I disliked this book. The narration was my biggest stumbling block. This is a perfect example of the problems that can happen when the author narrates his own book. I have loved many of McCullough's other books--with particular favorites being John Adams and Truman. However, these were both books that the author did not narrate himself. If you are a McCullough fan be sure to listen to the sample first. Also, be aware for me it wasn't just the narration, I thought that the writing sounded tired and worn out as well. The whole experience was slow, tiresome and really sad. Can't recommend.

    36 of 46 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. James Gradwell 06-07-15 Member Since 2017
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    "Untapped Potential"

    I enjoyed McCullough's interpretation of the Wright Brother's endeavors in building a flying machine but I couldn't help feeling like there was more to know. What McCullough has presented here was insightful, fair, and properly organized; much like you'd expect from him. I'm only hesitant to give it five stars because the story really ended with Wilbur's death when I, in particular, wanted more on the period afterwards. I suppose the art sort of left the brother's hands in the First World War but I was hoping McCullough would spend some time speaking on the early uses of aviation. That said, I really can't fault the story of this book much at all. I felt McCullough treated the story and facts for what they were and never seemed to make any outrageous or shortsighted claims.

    The performance, on the other hand, was not entirely to my liking. I think McCullough would be a pleasant conversationalist but was not my favorite orator here. Performance is pivotal to an audiobook's success and I wasn't as fond of McCullough's voice in this book. However, I was able to swiftly complete this book in a few days without any real complaint. If you listen to the sample and find it charming, buy the book.

    The purchase was well worth it to me.

    27 of 35 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John 10-03-16
    John 10-03-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Good History lesson about an amazing accomplishmen"
    Any additional comments?

    I found this book entertaining and informative. This is a story of one of the greatest achievements in human history. I learned something from this book, and I had an easy time getting through it, which to me makes it worth while.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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    mlfarr 01-04-16
    mlfarr 01-04-16 Member Since 2013
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    "The Wright brothers were a gift to humanity!"

    The Wright brothers were a gift to humanity! If we could all live with their moral values, what a wonderful world it would be.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah Jacob Port of Spain 10-23-15
    Deborah Jacob Port of Spain 10-23-15 Member Since 2016

    I am an author and a librarian, and I happily now live in the realm of audio books.

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    "The Wright Brothers & McCullough Got It Right"

    The Wright Brothers is McCullough's best book to date: moving, inspirational and finely crafted. It's a riveting story of hope, dreams, science and most of all the true meaning of education, which we have lost sight of. This goes down as one of my all-time favourite books. I couldn't wait to listen to the next chapter of this book, and I was sorry when the book ended. I couldn't stop thinking about the story after I listened to it. The Wright Brothers also makes my list of best endings. McCullough deserves another Pulitzer Prize for The Wright Brothers. If I had to choose one book everyone should read this year, it would be this compelling biography of two simple men who made history.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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    Jeff Casurella Marietta, GA 09-29-15
    Jeff Casurella Marietta, GA 09-29-15 Member Since 2003

    Jeff

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    "Well Researched, Well Written, Well Done!"

    David McCullough is the best writer of history in our time. The book is quintessential McCullough.

    This is the story of two brothers who figured out--essentially on their own--how to consistently fly and improve upon their powered airplane. They knew little about flight when they started, but they eventually figured it out. It is a great AMERICAN story.

    They brought with them strong morals, work ethic, perseverance, courage, intellect and discipline. Their mission was self-funded and included not much outside help. They knew the risks of failure and saw others before them die for the innovation which they eventually would succeed. And they were human, not without their faults. But in a relatively short period of time, they became THE pioneers of the air, their feats eventually soaring into the history books.

    McCullough's masterful telling of their story is not to be missed. This book, like most or all of his other writings, reads like a novel. But it is not. The reader/listener will not be disappointed. Get the book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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    eclectic reader Fort Myers, FL USA 08-21-15
    eclectic reader Fort Myers, FL USA 08-21-15 Member Since 2015

    wanderer

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    "A fresh look at a human triumph"

    The author reader provides a very personal look at the Wright brothers and Their development of powered flight. The more I learn of the brothers the more impressed l am. While it isn't an exhaustive biography it does a wonderful job of bringing them to life.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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    Vince 08-20-15
    Vince 08-20-15 Member Since 2011
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    "Great Story but narration is a little boring"
    What did you love best about The Wright Brothers?

    The way they were able to make anything they needed on their own. True pioneers


    What did you like best about this story?

    Great story and learned a lot about the Wright Brothers I didn't know


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    No, it was a tired narration


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Round Rock TX 06-27-15
    Mary Round Rock TX 06-27-15 Member Since 2007
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    "McCullough ruins his own book"
    Any additional comments?

    What would have been an excellent book was completely ruined by the author's narration. By now it seems he should certainly be able to hire a professional narrator. His voice was fading or gravely and many words slurred. We couldn't finish listening to it. We just fast forwarded to the epilogue. While the story was interesting, it was just too painful to listen especially as we were on a long car ride. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if you listened in small increments.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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