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

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  368 ratings  ·  85 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
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Hardcover, 464 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by National Geographic (first published January 1st 2013)
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happy
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
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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
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Adam
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 isola ...more
Lisa
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
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Yvonne
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
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Steve
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
J.
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
Brian
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
Mark
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 "
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Kevin
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
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Derek
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
Michael
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
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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
John 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
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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
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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
Eric
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
thewanderingjew
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
Tracie
Jun 28, 2013 Tracie marked it as to-read
Shelves: gifts
for Grandpa?
Lane Willson
I was halfway through The Aviators: Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and the Epic Age of Flight before I became realized that it’s author, Winston Groom, was the man holding the pen that created Forrest Gump and many other works of fiction and reality. Needless to say, I will be reading many of these books.

I knew very little about these three heroes of aviation, probably no more the paragraph representing each in my 8th grade American History text, the whole page in the c
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Chris
I love history books that are entertaining while still being informative. The Aviators is one such book. Each of the men featured in The Aviators made significant contributions to early aviation. They all led extraordinary lives, served their country valiantly during wartime, and had more than their fair share of excitement. This excellent account is a window into each of their remarkable lives.

In a few of the other reviews, I noticed that people commented negatively on the book's defense of Lin
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Scott
I didn't know a lot of details about any of these men other than their most famous achievements. He goes through the lives of these men focussing on their contributions to aviation, which were considerable from each man. Each in his own right was a scientist and engineer as well as daredevil and hero. None did anything rashly, they planned their actions in meticulous detail. Rickenbacker was a hero in both WW I and WW II. Doolittle developed the first instrument landing system as well as fly the ...more
Doug
If everyone wrote history like Winston Groom writes history, it would not be one of the most hated subjects in school. In The Aviators, Groom takes on the lives of Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle and Charles Lindbergh. To put it succinctly, these men were giants and Groom's book does them justice. Although somewhat similar as aviators, as men they were about as divergent as you could get. Two thing that they had in common though were superior intellect and tremendous courage - not just physi ...more
Chris Ross
I listened to the audio book. All I can say is WOW, a truly amazing book! If you like to read history, biography, or World War II or I history I believe you will enjoy this book. This book is filled with facts about each of these three heroes, Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, and Charles Lindbergh! At times is is funny, intense, sad and will bring periods of great joy and tears. One of the best books I have read this year! If I could give it 6 stars I would.
Rich M
This is a top ten. Covering these three amazing men, Rickenbacker, Doolittle and Lindbergh, during an amazing period of time, 1900 through WWII. I never knew a tenth about these men. It is a fantastic read and Groom writes easily and well alternating among the three so there is always a freshness. Even if you are not an aviation buff, the history of these larger than life figures is just amazing.
Delores Thomas
This is an excellent summary of the beginnings of aviation. The major contributors such as Jimmy Doolittle, Eddie Rickenbacker, Charles Lindbergh, and Billy Mitchell are covered in depth. But also minor players get their due. It also discusses the political difficulties development of safe and effective airplanes ran into. A very challenging book that is still fun reading.
Steve Lamb
I rarely give 5 stars. This may only be one of two books I've ever done that for, but wow. This is the best piece of early aviation history I have ever read, and I have read a bunch! Mr. Groom brings the people to your table to tell their tales with so many spectacular details that have been overlooked in earlier books. Masterpiece is all I can say.
Ben Smith
While Groom slips past some of the darker sides of these guys who became heroes, the technical depth on what drove the aviation industry from the very beginning and the impact both on and by American society by the early period of aviation innovation are two areas that any modern entrepreneur should take time to understand.
Hal
Author did a great job of intertwining the bios of three of the most important men of military aviation who also had a huge effect on civil aviation. I've read much about these three airmen before, but there was still a lot about them that was new to me. I really enjoyed the book and highly recommend it to any aviation buff. Or anyone who just enjoys history.
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Is this good history? 1 3 Mar 06, 2014 10:48AM  
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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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