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markk

markk

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Deanne Stillman
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Martin Brecht
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Well-told but lacking the technical details of the Wrights' achievements

The Wright Brothers - David McCullough

As brothers who achieved a goal that had eluded some of humanity's greatest minds for centuries, the Wright brothers represent one of the great tales of invention in history. Many writers have told their tale over the years, each with their own approach to explaining how they accomplished it. David McCullough's book is mainly a narrative approach that focuses on the family dynamic -- not just the complimentary interaction between Wilbur and Orville, but the often under-reported roles of their father Milton and their sister Katharine, both of whom provided valuable emotional and practical support as well. McCullough succeeds in chronicling he journey to Kitty Hawk and the subsequent effort to turn that first brief flight into a truly viable flying vehicle. Yet in describing the Wright brothers' achievement, McCullough never really explains how they accomplished it, as the technical details which were the primary focus of their efforts are largely glossed over. Readers seeking a fuller explanation of the challenge the Wright brothers' faced and how they overcame it would be better served turning to other works such as Richard Hallion's superb Taking Flight, which may lack McCullough's narrative gifts but more than makes up for it with its detail of the aeronautical challenges facing heavier-than-air flight and how the two brothers from Dayton overcame them.