Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Wright Brothers

For ages, mankind tried to conquer the sky. Many had given up hope that it could ever be done. Few would have expected the breakthroughs to come from a pair of brothers from Dayton, Ohio. The Wright Brothers tells the unlikely story of the men who created air travel.

The brothers were not academics well-versed in the theory of flight. And that's a good thing, because most of the theories were wrong. They were mechanically-inclined tinkerers who consumed everything that was written on the topic of flying. Once again, it is the hobbyists and/or non-professionals that come up with the astounding breakthroughs. It probably helps not to be married to the assumptions that turn out to be false, as insiders often are, as it prevents one from discovering new things. But of course this group also creates a lot of cranks.

What I also found fascinating was that these guys weren't chasing wealth; they were chasing their passions. They had a bike shop to help pay for their flying hobby, but spent all their time on the hobby to the detriment of their abilities to earn. Of course, they became very wealthy in the end, but it didn't seem to be their real goal.

It's a terrific book. McCullough tells an excellent story, and doesn't waste a lot of words doing it. The book managed to convey everything I could have asked for in well under 300 pages.


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