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

4.31  ·  Rating Details ·  1,561 Ratings  ·  206 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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James P. Klag Not just technical errors but easily corrected errors of historical fact. Too bad. A great idea miserably executed. I'm reading the audio version and…moreNot just technical errors but easily corrected errors of historical fact. Too bad. A great idea miserably executed. I'm reading the audio version and the narrator is pouring gasoline on the fire. He can't pronounce most foreign names and places.


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May 18, 2015 Joseph rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, biography
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
Apr 21, 2013 happy rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
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
Jul 27, 2016 Frank rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, history
As with the Generals, Groom portrays three pioneers of flight, Lindbergh, Rickenbacker and Doolittle.
All three men certainly in their younger years living on the edge in an area of flight where many lost their lives due to faulty equipment, weather, and poor flying techniques.
I was amazed by Rickenbacker's life, not only a WWI ace, but survives a brutal crash in Atlanta, then crashes in the South Pacific during WWII, and is adrift for as many weeks, with survivors battling the weather the sea
Sep 18, 2016 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, military
I’m not sure quite how to characterize this entertaining and informative slice of (American) aviation history presented through the interlaced biographies of the three dominant (again, American) aviators in the era following the Wright Brothers: Charles Lindbergh, Eddie Rickenbacker, and Jimmy Doolittle. It’s an interesting approach, particularly since any number of books (including autobiographical works, including a Pulitzer Prize winner) focus on each of the three protagonists and a number o ...more
Dec 01, 2013 Adam rated it really liked it
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
Actually 4.5
I really enjoy Groom's writing style. He has a way of making the past feel immediate and fresh. Unlike with many other authors, I never get lost in his battle scenes. These three men detailed in this book were all quite remarkable. I was particularly impressed by the author's balanced depiction of Lindbergh, I felt like I saw him as a much more complete person than emerged from Bryson's recent book One Summer: America, 1927. I know a lot more about aviation history and about both Wor
Jun 05, 2014 Steve rated it liked it
Shelves: read-for-nls
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
Feb 16, 2014 Lisa rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 04, 2014 Michael Gerald rated it it was amazing
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
Pam Walter
Jan 07, 2017 Pam Walter rated it really liked it
From a master storyteller comes the true biography of the three most prominent Americans of the early Aeronautical Age, Eddie Rickenbacker, James (Jimmy) Doolittle, and Charles Lindbergh. The story begins with a background on all three pilots, their families, social status, early interests, education. All three came from poor to middle class families with Lindbergh being the most affluent, and all three showed an early interest in flying.

Each chapter follows these three characters through their
Steve Freeland
Jan 23, 2017 Steve Freeland rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It was so wonderful to be able to get the personal histories of three aviation giants. I learned so much about all these men, but was most surprised about Lindberg. If you're interested in aviation history, you will love this book!
Dec 31, 2016 Kmfurr rated it it was amazing
Fantastic read. I'm embarrassed to realize I'd known very little about these guys -- almost nothing about Rickenbacker and Doolittle especially, aside from their most iconic accomplishments. World War I ace ... Doolittle Raid ... Spirit of St Louis. OK. But Rickenbacker and Doolittle were famous before they were famous. Lindbergh re-emerged in WWII to fly combat missions in the South Pacific with the Marines and the Army Air ... as a civilian "consultant" (wink wink). Rickenbacker spent weeks fl ...more
Oct 11, 2013 J.S. rated it really liked it
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
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
Steve Smits
May 17, 2014 Steve Smits rated it liked it
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
Oct 20, 2013 Brian rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 11, 2015 Kevin rated it liked it
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
Nov 16, 2013 Mark rated it it was amazing
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 "
Jul 30, 2015 Ronald rated it really liked it
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
Charlie Newfell
Nov 08, 2013 Charlie Newfell rated it it was amazing
I've been on a roll lately - lots of 5 star books for me. I was a bit skeptical starting this one...would the author just idolize the Rickenbacker, Doolittle and Lindbergh? It turns out there was a lot to idolize, and some of what you might think about them wasn't true (Lindbergh was not a Nazi lover). Well told of the beginnings of the age of flight and the three most prominent men of that time. What dynamic and interesting lives they lived, and yes, there is a lot of heroism in each of them. H ...more
Raul Suarez Arcila
Dec 18, 2015 Raul Suarez Arcila rated it it was amazing
Excelente libro! no solo cuenta la historia de como Rickenbacker, Doolittle y Lindbergh llegaron a ser pioneros de la aviación como, sino tambien detalles posteriores a sus logros que realmente me impresionaron...
Jun 28, 2013 Tracie marked it as to-read
Shelves: gifts
for Grandpa?
Sep 20, 2015 Walt added it
Shelves: history, aviation
Outstanding work.
Dan Walter
Dec 26, 2016 Dan Walter rated it did not like it
A good read -- if you don't let the facts get in the way. It is too bad that an otherwise engaging and enjoyable read is ruined by mistatement of widely-known historical information. For example, Groom says that 700,000 men were killed during the battle of Verdun - when the figure is more like 300,000. Groom also states that Hitler "conquered Sweden," when in fact Sweden was a neutral country. Also, he writes that when Hitler signed the non-aggression pact with Stalin, communists around the worl ...more
Jan 29, 2017 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A historic non fiction book about three pioneers of aviation. Rickenbacker, Doolittle, and Lindbergh lead larger than life stories that are so fantastic it feels like you are reading a fictional tale. It is awesome to reflect on the lives of these three great men who took to the sky's and followed their dreams in the face of constant danger. Aviation will never be the same because of these pioneers. Their sprite represents the best of men and of what we as a people can accomplish with a tenacity ...more
Lynn Tanner
Jan 28, 2017 Lynn Tanner rated it it was amazing
What a treat it was for me to learn more about some of my husband's heroes. He has talked for years about Jimmy Doolittle and Eddie Rickenbacker. We listened to this on our way to Montana to visit friends this fall and then I read it later as I felt I missed some of the details while traveling. Amazing men and the book is hard to put down!
Micah Chollar
Feb 01, 2017 Micah Chollar rated it really liked it
I knew about these three and their single fame-inducing achievements, but had no idea there was so much more to their stories or the way they were interwoven.
Great story for those that love aviation and WWII history.
Feb 10, 2017 Dave rated it it was amazing
Outstanding book! We all know what Rickenbacker, Doolittle and Lindbergh are known for (hopefully) but the rest of their lives is filled with amazing accomplishments. The advances in aviation that the three of these guys made is truly astounding. You won't be able to put it down!
Jan 29, 2017 Mickey rated it it was amazing
I thought this was a very interesting look at 3 figures from the early period of aviation. I was truly surprised at how involved they were in advancing either the military or commercial side of aviation. Very well written and enjoyable.
Jerry Jordan
Jan 19, 2017 Jerry Jordan rated it really liked it
Three hero's in one volume. Book is well intertwined weaving the stories of these three epic men of flight. One remembers the achievement that brought each of them fame, but we forget (or never knew), that their lives were not measured by a single success.
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Is this good history? 3 9 Jul 19, 2015 11:21PM  
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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
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“Not that the title of top American ace wasn’t flattering. After all, Rickenbacker had shot down seven enemy planes in as many months. It was just that all of the former recipients of the honor had all been killed, and he could not help but ruminate over what he called “the unavoidable doom that had overtaken its previous holders.” Rickenbacker” 0 likes
“After a trip to Japan Mitchell famously predicted that the next war would be fought in the Pacific after a Japanese sneak attack on a Sunday morning in Hawaii. Eddie Rickenbacker, who had served as Mitchell’s driver before becoming an ace combat pilot, wryly quipped that “the only people who paid any attention to him were the Japanese.” Most” 0 likes
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