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The Flight of the Century: Charles Lindbergh and the Rise of American Aviation

Oxford University Press: Pivotal Moments in US History
Narrated by: Bob McGraw
Length: 11 hrs and 17 mins

Non-member price: $36.20

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Publisher's Summary

In late May 1927, an inexperienced and unassuming 25-year-old Air Mail pilot from rural Minnesota stunned the world by making the first non-stop transatlantic flight. A spectacular feat of individual daring and collective technological accomplishment, Charles Lindbergh's flight from New York to Paris ushered in America's age of commercial aviation.

In The Flight of the Century, Thomas Kessner takes a fresh look at one of America's greatest moments, explaining how what was essentially a publicity stunt became a turning point in history. He vividly recreates the flight itself and the euphoric reaction to it on both sides of the Atlantic, and argues that Lindbergh's amazing feat occurred just when the world - still struggling with the disillusionment of World War I - desperately needed a hero to restore a sense of optimism and innocence.

Kessner also shows how new forms of mass media made Lindbergh into the most famous international celebrity of his time, casting him in the role of a humble yet dashing American hero of rural origins and traditional values. Much has been made of Lindbergh's personal integrity and his refusal to cash in on his fame. But Kessner reveals that Lindbergh was closely allied with, and managed by, a group of powerful businessmen - Harry Guggenheim, Dwight Morrow, and Henry Breckenridge chief among them - who sought to exploit aviation for mass transport and massive profits. Their efforts paid off as commercial air traffic soared from 6,000 passengers in 1926 to 173,000 passengers in 1929.

Kessner's book is the first to fully explore Lindbergh's central role in promoting the airline industry - the rise of which has influenced everything from where we live to how we wage war and do business. The Flight of the Century sheds new light on one of America's fascinatingly enigmatic heroes and most transformative moments.

©2010 Thomas Kessner (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Donald Hill
  • 21-11-2017

A Comprehensive Biography of Lindbergh

Thomas Kessner has written a masterful account of Charles Lindbergh with his involvement in the rise of American aviation.. As much as I am an aviation enthusiast, I realized how little I knew about one of Americas most influential aviators.

The subtitle of the book is "Charles Lindbergh and the Rise of American Aviation", is truly the theme of the book. Kessner does a great job of telling that story. He covers Lindbergh in his early days. He writes about the complex relationship with his mother and father and how their divorce affected Charles in his youth. The author devotes a significant amount of time on the relationship between Lindbergh and his mother, which is very revealing in how it shaped his personality.

Kessner's coverage of the story regarding the transatlantic competition and Lindbergh's eventual triumph is told really well. This part of the story does not drag on, he really makes it all come to life!

Kessner devotes a large part of the text to Linbergh's effect on the rise of American aviation. This is truly the underlying theme. He spends many pages of the book discussing his courtship with Ann Morrow, their marriage, and her involvement with him and his career as a pilot, and Ann's eventual certification as a pilot too.

What I found a bit odd was that Kessner writes the final chapter of the book on the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh Jr. (their first child). It is followed by the Epilogue that merely mentions the rocky relationship with the Roosevelt administration, when that was such a large part of his persona with the general public, which prior to that, adored him as a great hero. This part of his life and acceptance of Nazi fascism, turned many fans of Lindbergh into many that were loathe of him due to his political stance leading up to World War II. Just a mere mention of his time spent in the Pacific theater during the war is recorded in this book.

However, Kessner names his Epilogue: "The End of Heroes", for a good reason. He exposes the many flaws of this great figure, telling history at face value. There are plenty of shocks and surprises revealed about Lindbergh in his later years, which I will leave to the reader/listener.

In short, it was a very good read. I was totally captivated by the story. I found that there is so much to learn on any subject. I read 58 books this year, so far. This is definitely in the top 10!

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Glenn H. Hancock
  • 18-11-2014

So Bad I'm asking for my money back!!

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Having someone read the book that actually knows how to read.

Has The Flight of the Century: Charles Lindbergh and the Rise of American Aviation turned you off from other books in this genre?

Its the second book with a sorry person reading the contents so if they continue to be like this then yes.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Bob McGraw?

A 4 year old? He is so bad I don't know what to say.

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

Anger over the patchwork of recordings and in a hurry reading. Very irritating.

Any additional comments?

This book seems like he was distracted and left of entire paragraphs at points where it was required to come back in and record them over with a completely different tempo and sound quality. It is driving me crazy. I'd like to get my money back.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 25-02-2012

Fascinating Story

What did you like about this audiobook?

The story of Charles Lindbergh is fascinating. This book is full of all the ups and downs of his exceptional career. It is a little too full of facts though. The narrator makes his way through all of this with an uncanny feel for the whole story. After reading one of the other reviews I thought I should just read the book. However, none of the narration flaws described in that review seemed accurate to me. The narrator actually kept me interested when the author had overburdened his book with details. Sometimes it was as if I was listening to some of the Bible on cassette. The text itself gets bogged down with name after name and it gets confusing. The narrator did a fine job of navigating through the more detailed material and then he would come alive as an exciting scene would unfold. If your looking for a book with a comprehensive perspective on Charles Lindbergh, then this is the book for you.

How has the book increased your interest in the subject matter?

It hasn't increased my interest very much because this book is loaded facts about Charles Lindbergh. I don't know where I'd go to dig deeper.

Does the author present information in a way that is interesting and insightful, and if so, how does he achieve this?

The author does present the information well. The more interesting events are tied together with historical facts that give context to the important scenes.

What did you find wrong about the narrator's performance?

Nothing. It's not the narrator, but the type of material that he's reading.

Do you have any additional comments?

Overall this is a good book. The narrator has a deep rolling voice that's perfect for audio books. The historical subject of this book makes it hard to pay attention when nothing exciting is going on. And it's a long book.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • E. Danner
  • 18-12-2011

Terrible Narrator

What made the experience of listening to The Flight of the Century: Charles Lindbergh and the Rise of American Aviation the most enjoyable?

Its a good story

Would you be willing to try another one of Bob McGraw???s performances?


Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

The narrator has the worst pronunciation I have ever encountered. Its unbelievable. Closer to the literal pronunciation computer voice synthesizers than to actual English.

Any additional comments?

This book should be re-recored. An otherwise good book is ruined by poor narration.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful