Review: The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

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Merely by choosing them, Mr. [David] McCullough makes his subjects extra-estimable. And in the case of the Wrights that may be fitting.

This concise, exciting and fact-packed book sees the easy segue between bicycling and aerial locomotion, which at that point was mostly a topic for bird fanciers and dreamers. But there were automobiles in Dayton’s streets, so who knew what might happen in its skies? The Wrights read everything they could about flight and wrote to anyone who might reply, from the first experimenters to the Smithsonian Institution. Relying on their imaginations, inexpensive materials, bicycle-related ideas about steering and modest sums they earned at the shop, they would ultimately embarrass the Smithsonian and its grandiose, government-funded flying experiments that were conducted on (and generally flopped right back into) the Potomac.

Read the review in the New York Times.