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The Aviators
Cover of The Aviators
The Aviators
Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and the Epic Age of Flight

Written by gifted storyteller Winston Groom (author of Forrest Gump), The Aviators tells the saga of three extraordinary aviators--Charles Lindbergh, Eddie Rickenbacker, and Jimmy Doolittle--and how they redefine heroism through their genius, daring, and uncommon courage.

This is the fascinating story of three extraordinary heroes who defined aviation during the great age of flight. These cleverly interwoven tales of their heart-stopping adventures take us from the feats of World War I through the heroism of World War II and beyond, including daring military raids and survival-at-sea, and will appeal to fans of Unbroken, The Greatest Generation, andFlyboys. With the world in peril in World War II, each man set aside great success and comfort to return to the skies for his most daring mission yet. Doolittle, a brilliant aviation innovator, would lead the daring Tokyo Raid to retaliate for Pearl Harbor; Lindbergh, hero of the first solo flight across the Atlantic, would fly combat missions in the South Pacific; and Rickenbacker, World War I flying ace, would bravely hold his crew together while facing near-starvation and circling sharks after his plane went down in a remote part of the Pacific. Groom's rich narrative tells their intertwined stories--from broken homes to Medals of Honor (all three would receive it); barnstorming to the greatest raid of World War II; front-page triumph to anguished tragedy; and near-death to ultimate survival--as all took to the sky, time and again, to become exemplars of the spirit of the "greatest generation."

Written by gifted storyteller Winston Groom (author of Forrest Gump), The Aviators tells the saga of three extraordinary aviators--Charles Lindbergh, Eddie Rickenbacker, and Jimmy Doolittle--and how they redefine heroism through their genius, daring, and uncommon courage.

This is the fascinating story of three extraordinary heroes who defined aviation during the great age of flight. These cleverly interwoven tales of their heart-stopping adventures take us from the feats of World War I through the heroism of World War II and beyond, including daring military raids and survival-at-sea, and will appeal to fans of Unbroken, The Greatest Generation, andFlyboys. With the world in peril in World War II, each man set aside great success and comfort to return to the skies for his most daring mission yet. Doolittle, a brilliant aviation innovator, would lead the daring Tokyo Raid to retaliate for Pearl Harbor; Lindbergh, hero of the first solo flight across the Atlantic, would fly combat missions in the South Pacific; and Rickenbacker, World War I flying ace, would bravely hold his crew together while facing near-starvation and circling sharks after his plane went down in a remote part of the Pacific. Groom's rich narrative tells their intertwined stories--from broken homes to Medals of Honor (all three would receive it); barnstorming to the greatest raid of World War II; front-page triumph to anguished tragedy; and near-death to ultimate survival--as all took to the sky, time and again, to become exemplars of the spirit of the "greatest generation."

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About the Author-
  • WINSTON GROOM is the author of 14 previous books of nonfiction and fiction, including Shiloh 1862, Vicksburg 1863, Patriotic Fire, Shrouds of Glory, Forrest Gump, and Conversations with the Enemy (with Duncan Spencer), which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He lives with his wife and daughter in Point Clear, Alabama.

Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    Starred review from October 15, 2013
    Joint biography of three legendary pilots. Groom (Shiloh, 1862, 2012, etc.) takes his subjects from their earliest days through World War II, when they all found a way to aid the struggle against the Axis powers. All three of Groom's subjects earned their renown by doing something extraordinary. Eddie Rickenbacker (1890-1973) rose from auto mechanic to champion race car driver and then became the top American flying ace of World War I. Jimmy Doolittle (1896-1993), a tough kid who boxed to pay for college, became the military's leading test pilot in the 1920s. Charles Lindbergh (1902-1974) dropped out of college to be a stunt pilot before becoming the most famous man alive for his New York to Paris flight in 1927. Groom traces their early careers, showing how they learned the nuts and bolts of aviation in the process of becoming pilots. This stood them in good stead in their later careers. Lindbergh personally oversaw the building of the Spirit of St. Louis, the plane for his epic flight, and, later in World War II, helped U.S. forces in the Pacific improve the range of the P-38 fighter planes. Doolittle is probably best known for his 1942 bombing raid on Tokyo, in which he used innovative tactics to shake the enemy's confidence in the impregnability of the Japanese homeland. Rickenbacker, on a secret mission to deliver orders to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, survived more than three weeks on a life raft in the shark-infested South Pacific after his plane went down, nearly starving, continuing the mission as soon as he recovered from the ordeal. Groom lets his empathy with his subjects somewhat outweigh their flaws, notably Lindbergh's initial failure to recognize the evil of Nazism. Ultimately, though, the author convincingly portrays them as true American heroes, men who changed the world by their deeds and who inspired countless others to emulate their examples. A gripping document of a brilliant era in our history and a few of the men who helped make it so.

    COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from September 1, 2013

    Groom's (Shiloh, 1862) interwoven biographies confirm that in their day no American figures received such public adulation as Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, and Charles Lindbergh, each of whom became a colossus in the annals of flight. In 1918, Rickenbacker was the number one U.S. combat pilot; Lindbergh, of course, thrilled the world in 1927 when he flew solo nonstop across the Atlantic; and Doolittle ushered in modern airpower in 1929 by flying aircraft on instruments alone. All three visited Nazi Germany in the 1930s and warned their indifferent countrymen about Hitler's burgeoning war machine. Doolittle and Rickenbacker called for U.S. diplomatic engagement and military preparedness, while Lindbergh backed a policy of isolationism. During World War II these men were middle-aged, famous, and wealthy, yet they volunteered to fly again. Groom's farewell chapter is a masterpiece, in which he concludes, "They were giants who ruled the air...and years after they died their dust still sparkles in the lore that binds the national trust." VERDICT This is a winner, combining an engaging narrative and appropriate documentation into one solid study of three iconic aviators and their times. Recommended for students of military history and biography, as well as aviation historians and enthusiasts.--John Carver Edwards, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Cleveland

    Copyright 2013 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Library Journal, starred review "This is a winner, combining an engaging narrative and appropriate documentation into one solid study of three iconic aviators and their times."
  • Kirkus Reviews, starred review "A gripping document of a brilliant era in our history and a few of the men who helped make it so."
  • Stephanie Crowe, Page and Palette Bookstore "Groom is at his best sharing history through the personal stories of the people involved. Not only is this history a learning experience, it is a joy to experience the suspenseful adventures of these extraordinary aviators as they spent their lives developing and promoting aviation in this country. An important narrative not to be missed!"
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The Aviators
Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and the Epic Age of Flight
Winston Groom
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