"For some years I have been afflicted with the belief that flight is possible to man. My disease has increased in severity and I feel that it will soon cost me an increased amount of money if not my life."
So wrote a quiet young Ohioan in 1900, one in an ancient line of men who had wanted to fly - wanted it passionately, fecklessly, hopelessly. But now, at the turn of the 20th century, Wilbur Wright and a scattered handful of other adventurers conceived a conviction that the dream lay at last within reach, and in a headlong race across 10 years and two continents, they competed to conquer the air. James Tobin, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in biography, has at last given this inspiring story its definitive telling.
For years Wright and his younger brother, Orville, experimented in utter obscurity. Meanwhile, the world watched as the imperious Samuel Langley, armed with a rich contract from the U.S. War Department and all the resources of the Smithsonian Institution, sought to create the first manned flying machine. But while Langley became obsessed with flight as a problem of power, the Wrights grappled with it as a problem of balance. Thus their machines took two very different paths - his toward oblivion, theirs toward the heavens.
To Conquer the Air is a hero's tale of overcoming obstacles within and without that plumbs the depths of creativity and character. With a historian's accuracy and a novelist's eye, Tobin has captured the interplay of remarkable personalities at an extraordinary moment in our history. In the centennial year of human flight, To Conquer the Air is itself a heroic achievement.
"Extraordinarily well-written and deeply nuanced...a detailed yet truly exciting tale." (
Publishers Weekly)"Tobin transforms thorough research into a flowing narrative with news for even connoisseurs of Kitty Hawk." (
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