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The Wright Brothers (Unabridged)

by David McCullough

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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.

Customer Reviews


I really wanted to like this as I do like the author's style. However, this was a lazily written book. It adds nothing to what is known about the Wright Brothers other than endless lists of things like why they ate in Paris, why they saw in Europe and in and on. Saddened by the lack of real insight or interesting content. And the author should not have read the book. Makes it even more dull. Stay away, you can do better.

The Wright Brothers

I am from North Carolina. We received a very cursory bit of information in our history classes about the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk. I have visited the monument, etc. numerous times. BUT I had never really learned about all the intense work and trials of the "first" flights. My husband and I have been truly fascinated with the book. We like that the author read the book. We highly recommend it! It is high on our list of favorite books.

Love Mr. McCullough's work, not so much narration

I have never given the Wright bros. due diligence so this book seemed perfect as a way to "catch up" on them. It's a shame they had the author narrate it; his voice is not strong. I recommend buying this book to read, not listen to.
The author/narrator makes a stark error in stating that the fourth (and longest) flight was half a mile. It was 852 feet-approximately 1:6 mile.

David McCullough, The Wright Brothers (Unabridged)
View in iTunes $15.95
  • Narrator: David McCullough
  • Published: 2015
  • Category: History
  • Provider: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Presented by

Customer Ratings