2015: The Wright Brothers

The Wright Brothers, David McCullough

Another day, another dad book. I know, but I've read everything McCullough ever wrote, so why stop now? This is the story, of course, of the Wright brothers, and it was pretty interesting. I knew almost nothing about them or the history of early flight, and it's written in McCullough's typical excellent prose, so I can recommend this with no qualms, if you are interested in learning about Orville, Wilbur and the gang (the gang was mostly their sister, Katherine, who seems pretty interesting in her own right*).  It does what it sets out to do - tells the story of the Wright brothers.  Can't complain and I am sure he'll sell thousands of copies (millions? I don't really know much about how many books get bought, honestly).  If you want a book to buy for your dad (or grandpa! Or mom, if she likes history! I will probably buy it for my father-in-law!), this book will satisfy.  And you aren't like, giving money to Bill O'Reilley, either.  David McCullough is great; I cannot turn off The Civil War if it comes on T.V. (McCullough is the narrator, which your probably knew).  And I met him in college and he was super super nice (unlike David Halberstam who was a real asshole).

But . . . if I'm to be totally honest the book was little thin.  The best McCullough's - the 1776's, the John Adams, the Path Between the Seas, are so compelling you can barely put them down.  1776 was so good that I gave up on the audio book to get the paper copy so I could read it faster (I read much faster than I listen).  I read Truman in college on the beach at St. Johns** - and its 800+ pages.  This book, like, unfortunately, the last book he wrote, The Greater Journey, just didn't have that pizzaz.  It's hard to clarify exactly what I mean - it was a little boring, it was shorter than his earlier works, it just seemed to end.  I don't want to think this is because McCullough is getting older, but he is in his 80's, so there is that.  I hope I'm wrong, and he comes out with another book that is an absolute corker (and 1776 is not that old so it is possible).  Maybe it's just that the Wright brothers, beyond their amazing flight achievements, were themselves sort of boring.  I hope so. And I hope McCullough has a few more books in him, because when he is at his best he is unbeatable for popular history, and even his slighter works are pretty darn good. 

*pun intended.

** ooooh, look, sneaky blog cross promotion. 

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017