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Publisher's Summary

In this fascinating biography, Fred C. Kelly, a former newspaperman, author, and an old friend of the Wrights, tells the story of the 2 brilliant, dedicated, flight-obsessed bicycle mechanics from Ohio who first realized mankind's age-old dream of conquering the skies. Long considered the definitive Wright Brothers biography (the manuscript was read and approved by Orville Wright), Kelly's work recounts the Wrights' small-town boyhood, their early interest in all things mechanical, the establishment of the Wright Cycle Shop, and the complete behind-the-scenes story of how they designed, built, tested, and flew (December, 1903) the first "Flyer."
(P)1994 by Blackstone Audiobooks

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

The Wright Brothers (Unabridged)

The image of the Wright Brothers that is handed down to us is a cartoon. Kelly gives us the real story and it is stunning. What appears clear is that aerodynamics in those day, to scientists and inventors alike, was about as mysterious as anything you might imagine today. More people understand general relativity today than understood aerodynamics and aeronautics then. The smartest people around the world simply couldn't figure it out. Many were left to conclude after experimentation that is wasn't possible. It took two brilliant, meticulous scientists with a gift for observation, a sixth sense about physics, especially aerodynamic principles, photographic memories, a talent for design and engineering, mechanical skills and a relentless willingness to experiment, about ten years to develop the first practical airplane. When scientists finally figured out what the Wrights had done, they generally agreed that if the Wrights hadn't done it, it might have been decades before anybody else would have. Nobody was even close. This wonderful and passionate account written in 1944 presents an amazing story of two extraordinary individuals.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Like An Extended Newspaper Account

This is a straight forward, competent account of the great Wright Brothers story. The reader sounds like a rapid-fire clipped newspaperman from the 40s or 50s. In fact, the entire story has the feel of an extended newspaper account. The story ends on a high note [spoiler alert] - the vindication of the Wright Bros. vis a vis the Smithsonian.

I prefer James Tobin's To Conquer The Air. It is a fuller, more fleshed-out and more dramatic account. If you are only going to buy just one, buy Tobin. If you are going to buy two, start with this one, and then enjoy Tobin.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Entertaining with caveats

This biography is showing its age. Written in the early 1940's, before Orville's death, much of the back story on the family and complex motivations behind some of their life choices, is just not here. The biographer is clearly in awe of the Wrights, (not a bad thing as they were exceptional and exemplary people), but there is deeper story to be told, but you won't find it here. The Wright Brothers by Ian Mackersey is a good read after this one. The reader mimics a 1940's newpaper reporter with a fast staccato style that at time grates. Worth a listen all the same as this amazing story never fails to be spellbinding.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Derek Carrillo
  • 04-11-07

The Wright Brothers (Unabridged)

Such a wonderful, informative and detailed history of the Wright brothers, could not stop listening to this book until I got to the end.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Preselector
  • 12-17-20

Put the brakes on Noah

This is an old book so rather stiff and lacking intimacy. However it tells a story that was still in living memory which is quite nice. It’s a bit uneven skating over some bits and spending too much time on others like the Langley dispute at the end. Also Noah reads way too fast but listening to it at 0.8x normal makes it a much easier listen.

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Profile Image for Jennifer Edwards
  • Jennifer Edwards
  • 03-27-18

Worst Narration I Ever Heard

What would have made The Wright Brothers better?

Re-record it with a properly trained reader

Would you be willing to try another book from Fred C. Kelly? Why or why not?

yes, the writing was ok

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Noah Waterman?

anyone else

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

it is a history of science, my reaction is that it is a fairly well written short history of the Wright brothers and their accomplishments. A good introduction for someone casually interested, however lacks the depth some other authors have achieved.

Any additional comments?

Someone plese tell the narrator to find a different occupation.