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The Aviators: Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and the Epic Age of Flight

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  601 ratings  ·  117 reviews
Written by gifted storyteller Winston Groom (author of Forrest Gump), The Aviators tells the saga of three extraordinary aviators--Charles Lindbergh, Eddie Rickenbacker, and Jimmy Doolittle--and how they redefine heroism through their genius, daring, and uncommon courage.

This is the fascinating story of three extraordinary heroes who defined aviation during the great age
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by National Geographic (first published January 1st 2013)
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The Aviators: Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and the Epic Age of Flight by Winston Groom is the intertwining stories of three of the greatest aviators in America and for that matter the world. Groom is an American novelist and non-fiction writer, best known for his book Forrest Gump, which was adapted into a film in 1994. He served in the Army from 1965 to 1969, including a tour in Vietnam. Groom devotes his time to writing history books about American wars.

This is anoth
With this look at three of the giants of American interwar aviation, Winston Groom has once again written a very accessible history. Mr. Groom looks at the lives and accomplishments of Eddie Rickenbacker, Charles Lindbergh and Jimmy Doolittle. All three were military pilots, though Mr. Lindbergh never flew on active duty, all three overcame life difficulties in reaching their prominence in aviation.

In writing their story, Mr. Groom keeps their tales separate. This book is almost like three biogr
For whatever reason, 2013 saw renewed interest in Charles Lindbergh, to the point where reading about him--sometimes on his own, sometimes as part of a larger historical narrative--became downright nauseating. (As a simple man almost entirely focused on aviation, Lindbergh and his accomplishment become tiresome almost immediately.) Lynne's Olsen's Those Angry Days attempted to depict Lindbergh and Franlin Delano Roosevelt as lead opponents in the run-up to World War II, with Lindbergh the isol ...more
The author is a great storyteller. I had heard of Doolittle and Rickenbacker but only vaguely so I really enjoyed reading about their lives. Amazing to think of how the three, including Charles Lindbergh, contributed to aviation. (I did not know that the two halls at the US Air Force Academy are named after Hap Arnold and Mitchell, also aviation military pioneers.)

Those guys had "9 Lives" especially Rickenbacker. I mean, he was an ace in WW I. Then he was in a terrible crash in Atlanta and I don
Michael Gerald Dealino
A great book on the three great pioneers of aviation, aside from the Wright brothers. One was a World War I fighter pilot who became an airline executive; one was a brilliant pilot and aeronautical engineer who set off a revolution by flying blind and just using the instruments in his plane; and another one who electrified the world with his non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

They had different backgrounds, but all had the same early pursuit: a love of flying when flying was a novelt
I'm somewhat torn about this book. The subjects give Groom plenty of fodder for great, exciting storytelling and he makes the most of it. There's no denying the world-changing heroics of Rickenbacker, Doolittle and Lindbergh and the author smartly tells their stories alongside each other, with fun moments of overlap as their worlds collide. A biography of this length on any one of these men might have been fleshed out with minutiae that could have bogged down the flow and overwhelmed the reader ...more
I saw a review of this book in the WSJ and added it to my list of books to check out at the library. I am glad I did, Groom has written a very readable look at three American aviation pioneers and their accomplishments. All three men did not have a father in the picture they came from poor backgrounds but did have a strong mother figure.

Rickenbacker, was a WWI flying ace and he started commercial aviation in the US. He made and lost fortune in the great depression but came back to create anothe
This text describes three pilots through their ups and downs through the two world wars. (Errk, sorry for the pun.) Groom has enjoyed successes, most notably Forest Gump. As such, this feels like the book that did not get enough attention. i have a sense that this book was not really finished, but abandoned and not really given its editor's pencil enough.

He writes three separate stories broken into a blur of chapters and uses the current convention of being cavalier with chronology. So his intr
I had just read The Wright Brothers by McCullough and followed it up with The Aviators: by Groom. It was a very interesting listen as I ran. All three names were familiar to me. I had read extensively about Rickenbacker as a boy. Interweaving these three giants in the history of aviation was good. It is interesting that authors today who write about WWII era are beginning to give a different view of FDR. Not sure if they are all researching the same sources but the topic of his anti-semitism as ...more
Steve Smits
The Aviators is the history of three of the pioneers of aviation in America: Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle and Charles Lindbergh. It tells the story of the exploits of these men from WWI through WWII. Lindbergh's history is fairly well-known and his story is told well by Groom. Of particular interest is his loss of popularity for the positions he took prior to WWII -- his isolationist views and acceptance of the inevitability of German domination of Europe. Groom suggests that his anti-sem ...more
We probably take it for granted now that we can fly across the country in a few hours or halfway around the world in the better part of a day. Travel by air is commonplace now, but it wasn't always so. In the early days of aviation, airplanes were for daredevils to entertain in barnstorming shows. Even after the First World War, few in America thought the airplane had much use, even in the military. But one who saw its great potential was Eddie Rickenbacker, America's most successful "flying ace ...more
Winston Groom delivers an excellent look into early aviation by tracking the lives of Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle and Charles Lindbergh. Rickenbacker was the famed World War 1 ace that started out as a dirt track racer of automobiles and eventually ran several of the early airlines and survived many harrowing crashes and time at sea. He was one of the first to popularize and romanticize flight and made contributions in management, safety, and navigation over the course of his life. Jimmy ...more
For those who only think of Eddie Rickenbacker as a World War I flying ace, or Charles Lindbergh as the first man to cross the Atlantic in a plane, or Jimmy Doolittle as the leader of a World War II raid on Japan; this volume will enlighten you to the lives of these three remarkable individuals and their myriad accomplishments.

Wonderfully written by Winston Groom, this triple biography follows the lives of three of the most important men in the early days of aviation. From the wood and fabric "
Long on biography, less concerned with hard-core aviation history, the book is true to the title: it is about these pioneers of flight and the times in which they lived. That these men met, and in some cases learned from, the Wright Brothers, going from canvas-covered biplanes to multi-engine bombers, is testimony to the breathtaking speed of advance in avaition in their lifetimes.
Having encountered the quirkier side of Lindbergh in Bill Bryson's recent 'One Summer', I found roughly a quarter
Great book. I knew very little of Charles Lindberg and Jimmy Doolittle. I knew nothing of Eddie Rickenbacker. These men were heroes on many levels and present during many critical moments in history. The book masterfully balances detail with panoramic views across history. More importantly, Groom paints a fair and a full picture of each of these men. This was no where more apparent than with recounting of Charles Lindberg's objection to involvement in WW II. Too often, I believe, we are led to b ...more
I like Winston Groom as a non-fiction writer. Not only is he an excellent writer but you never know what historical period he will cover next. Lately, I've been reading in the period of the early 20th Century when aviation was new. I have always admired Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle and Charles Lindbergh who were all intrepid heroes and pioneers of flight, all were self-taught mechanics and scientists without whom aviation would not have been the same.

Groom details the lives and adventure
Tony Held
I was thrilled by Winston Groom's masterful "Vicksburg, 1863." Having not read any of his non-fiction before, I was impressed by how well he could write a historical narrative. I thus was equally thrilled to discover that Groom had written a book about Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, and Charles Lindbergh.

Anticipating a literary feast similar to his Vicksburg book, I eagerly ventured out to the library closest to me which had a copy of "The Aviators" available and, on a Sunday many people
Roger Smitter
May 30, 2015 Roger Smitter rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who continues to understand flying as a historical force.
The book holds great promise by focusing on three of the most colorful and adventuresome figures in the history of flight. As one of the first Americans to drive race cars and serve as a fighter pilot in World War I, the flamboyant Eddie Rickenbacker introduced us to the romance of using machines that go fast. In winning the grand sum $25,000 as the first person to fly the Atlantic, the forceful but quiet Charles Lindbergh demonstrated how airplanes would shrink our world. Jimmy Doolittle used h ...more
Christopher Telcontar
I was leery of this book because the author also wrote Forrest Gump, and this, apparently, is his first foray into history. I ended up pleased as punch that I read it.

Most folks know two things about Lindbergh, one thing about Doolittle and one thing about Rickenbacker, if they know his name. Easily, he is the forgotten man in this trio. Groom does a fantastic job of meshing all three of their lives together in the early era of aviation, though he doesn't belabor the moments when they actually
J.J. Zerr
It has been a while since I've been really fired up by a book, but "The Aviators" did. The age of powered manned flight, to me, is quite an interesting slice of history. From 1903 through the end of the last century, the advances made were astonishing, in my humble opinion. Equally astonishing is the thought that this age may be more than half over. By 2103, will humans still be driving airplanes?

Rickenbacker, Doolittle, and Lindberg, remarkable stories in these guys' lives. Some interesting sni
Pierre Lauzon
Frankly, I wasn't expecting much from this book when I read about it. Many books have been written about Rickenbacker, Doolittle, and Lindbergh and it was hard to imagine that another book could add to the scholarship on any of these men.

I was pleasantly surprised with the book. The writing is crisp and excellent with very good editing. The author moves from aviator to aviator in a good way - not jumping around but giving an in-depth analysis of a particular phase of their lives before moving on
Jaq Greenspon
Oh the things you thought you knew...

Winston Groom let's you know in this incredibly well-researched book looking at the lives of three of aviation's greatest heroes: Eddie Rickenbacker, Charles Lindbergh and Jimmy Doolittle. the book is structured in alternating chapters, taking us through each of the flyer's lives up to and including their WWII service, but these stories almost never intersect. There is one or two mentions of the men meeting for dinner but in effect, we're getting three paral
Ron Alexander
I had already read a biography of Lindbergh but still learned more about him from this excellent book. Additionally, I knew little about Rickenbacker or Doolittle other than highlights of their careers. This book was engaging and informative. I was fascinated by the impact just these three men had on aviation. The Wright brothers were the creators, but Rickenbacker, Doolittle and Lindbergh were the apostles and saints of aviation. Without their brilliance, insights, single mindedness, and ceasel ...more
Good biographies of all three, who would continue to contribute to military aviation after spectacular early careers. Groom begrudgingly gets to the bottom of each aviator's character by the end of the book, in particular the mercurial Lindbergh who secretly had three families in Germany.

Groom is all to apologetic to the America Firsters, who before World War II fought the re-arming of Great Britain. The author does a good job of highlighting key contributions of each, such as Lindbergh's lesson
Mike OConnor
Thoroughly enjoyable book about three guys who's names are known by anyone flying today. I think I enjoyed the stories about their families, their youth, their motivation and perseverance as much as the accomplishment that made them famous. I have to say my hero of the 3, if I had to pick, was Eddie Rickenbacker. I wondered if they were just ordinary guys with extraordinary skill or extraordinary luck or both? Not sure I got that answer. But, being in the business of flying, I put myself back in ...more
Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and the Epic Age of Flight - the subtitle. Rickenbacker starts the story with the WWI flyers of "Hat in the Ring" and it gets better all the time. All three could have stayed home during WWII if for no other reason than their age. Rickenbacker survived a serious crash while head of his airline, then another ocean ditching in the Pacific where he ended up stranded in a raft for three weeks before being rescued. It is amazing to think that th ...more
Dave Hoff
A most excellent book on the 3 most famous aviators, from birth to their death. I assumed I knew all about Lindbergh from the many bios and his wife's books. Wrong, Groom tells how this anti-war flyer went on to be heavy involved in the air war of the So. Pacific, as a civilian "consultant" shooting down Japs while getting the most out of Army P-38s and Marine Corsairs. Rickenbacker as a civilian and Doolittle as a Major General did much to bring the US to Victory, both in Europe & the Pacif ...more
The book is long and sometimes tedious to listen to because it goes on and on and flips around from character to character and timeline to timeline. Chapters alternate with each character at first, but as the book develops, one or another characters is relegated to several. It felt like a greater portion of the book was devoted to Lindbergh, but that may simply be because of the writer’s method of presenting the information. Sometimes, a chapter which was devoted to one aviator, also included an ...more
This book intertwines the lives of three great American aviators: Lindbergh, Doolittle and Rickenbacker. They are all known for individual events that changed history and this book provides the other parts of their stories and describes how those changes were institutionalized by their actions during the rest of their lives. I thought that Groom did a good job with Rickenbacker and Doolittle, but did not describe the controversy around Lindbergh adequately. I was; however, enlightened by the oth ...more
Mike Harper
This is a remarkable book. It's not particularly good history, I think, because the author is so obviously in awe of the three heros. But the flip side of that criticism is that the heros' stories are told in an enthusiastic, very accessible manner. For an aviation buff, it's a real page-turner, even if it does leave the reader wondering whether all the facts are there, and accurately recorded.
The book is good, in part, because the heros are such interesting people. Their stories are so complete
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Is this good history? 3 7 Jul 19, 2015 01:21PM  
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Winston Groom is an American novelist and non-fiction writer, best known for his book Forrest Gump, which was adapted into a film in 1994. Groom was born in Washington, D.C., but grew up in Mobile, Alabama where he attended University Military School (now known as UMS-Wright Preparatory School). He attended the University of Alabama, where he was a member of Delta Tau Delta and the Army ROTC, and ...more
More about Winston Groom...
Forrest Gump (Forrest Gump, #1) Gump and Co. (Forrest Gump, #2) Vicksburg, 1863 Shiloh, 1862 A Storm in Flanders: The Ypres Salient, 1914-1918: Tragedy and Triumph on the Western Front

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“They had graduated from cloth-and-wood flying machines in the dawn of human flight to steel and aluminum behemoths with thousands of horsepower and terrific firepower;” 0 likes
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