Arminius's Reviews > Lindbergh

Lindbergh by A. Scott Berg
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Dec 10, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: history
Read in January, 2010

Lindbergh by A. Scott Berg begins with Charles A. Lindbergh’s very interesting parents. His father was a very respectful and successful lawyer in Minnesota who became a congressman and eventually a nomad. His mother was an educated school teacher from Detroit whose father was a controversial dentist at the time. He had a shop where he would invent numerous machines to work on teeth. Young Charles would visit and his grandfather would teach him to work with his various tools. This sparked an interest in Charles in mechanics.

Charles was a very shy boy growing up. He had a doting mother and often absent father.

He was known to have few friends and enjoyed rafting and his pets. He attended college for a year before he flunked out but became interested in air planes. He drove his motorcycle to Nebraska where there was a place where one could learn to fly planes. He flew for a while then joined the Army Air Corps where he honed his skills. He joined a Flying Circus Act where he performed stunts. When the Post Office decided to use planes to transport mail, businesses to support it popped up soon afterwards. Robinson Aircraft, one of those businesses, offered Lindbergh a job as its chief pilot for its Chicago to St. Louis run. For Robinson he surveyed routes and planned landing and emergency fields.

At the time a lucrative $25,000 prize named the Orteig Prize would be awarded to the first pilot that flew nonstop between New York and Paris. Lindbergh knew he was the man to do it. So he went around the St. Louis area business men and gathered funding for an airplane to be built for his attempted trip.

Lindbergh raised the necessary funding and had a plane built to support one person. He was smart enough to figure out how much weight the plane must hold in order to make the cross Atlantic trip. He calculated how much fuel the plane could carry as well as the amount of food and water he must have. He strived to use the least amount of weight possible. He needed enough fuel to get across the ocean. It would be dangerous if he did not have enough fuel to make it but almost as dangerous if he had too much fuel because that could weigh the plane down. A second danger was if he lost his direction he would surely run out of fuel. Pilots in the 1920’s used to follow railroad tracks to keep them in the correct direction. Lindbergh had a superb ability to know where he was going using ocean landmarks like icebergs.

All things went as planned. He arrived in Paris to world wide applause. He became the most famous person in the world for accomplishing this incredible feat. He was welcomed with honors and parades in France. He was invited to England and Germany where he received a medal form Adolph Hitler for his gallant accomplishment. He was asked by most European countries to inspect their beginning air forces.

He came home to America to a hero’s welcome. He was asked to oversea developing Airlines such as PAN AM. He sat on boards for most Air Transportation companies. These companies gave him generous compensation for doing so. He was feted by a lot of politicians and wealthy individuals. He was asked to give speeches for numerous organizations. One such invitation took him to the house of America’s Mexican ambassador Dwight Morrow. Morrow was an extremely wealthy individual coming from the JP Morgan banking dynasty to the prestigious job as the Ambassador to Mexico. Charles was asked to stay with the Morrows for a few days. This is where Morrow’s daughter Anne met Charles and eventually became infatuated with his good looks and charismatic charm. After another visit to with the Morrows, Charles asked Anne on a date. They fell in love and married.

He took Anne on numerous flights where she learned to co-polite air planes. They traveled all over the world. These adventures would fuel some of her future books. But, in a odd twist, Charles adventurous nature would never end and cause strain in their marriage due to Charles long bouts of home-life absenteeism.

Their first child was kidnapped. He most likely died in the kidnapping. The corresponding trial would become the “Crime of the Century.” The rest that I will say about it is that the kidnapping of their baby is exhaustively discussed.

After the trial things started to look up for the Lindbergh’s until WWII started in Europe. Charles who had long praised the German Luftwaffe as the world’s best Air Force also vehemently protested America participating in WWII. As President Roosevelt’s popularity increased and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor Charles's opinions became very unpopular. The President then sent the dogs after him. He sent his aid Harold Ickes on the attack attempting to discredit Lindbergh in radio and newspaper appearances. Charles fought back with speeches. This strategy hurt him. Parts of his very good speeches would be manipulated by Roosevelt cronies. For example, in a speech, he blamed capitalists looking to make money and the Jewish-controlled media for starting the war fever. As a result, new attacks came at him from all over as being an anti-Semite as well as a traitor. Neither of which he was. Nonetheless, he became very unpopular.

In fact, once the war started he volunteered to fight even though he was already in his forties. However, President Roosevelt did not allow it. But when the President died, the new President Truman allowed Charles to help the Allies by appointing him as a civilian trainer in the Pacific. While training Army pilots, he dazzled the most experienced pilots with his piloting skills. He even went on mission with them and shot down an enemy plane.

After the war, his reputation rebounded due to his war time participation and the publishing of his Pulitzer Prize winning book “The Spirit of St. Louis.” He described in detail how he crossed the Atlantic by himself with astonishing clarity.

With his resulting rebounded reputation he was offered one event and ceremony attendance after another. He routinely turned down most offers but returned interesting individually addressed refusal letters. For example, when a Girl Scout local asked him if they could use his name for the naming of their troupe he replied that organizations should not use a living person to name itself after.

At this time he also continued his worldwide travels attempting to save any endangered species or natural habitat he could find from the Green Turtle in the Indian Ocean to writing General Westmoreland in Vietnam and getting him to issue orders to prevent American servicemen from sending ivory back to the U.S. He would visit tribes in the wild jungles of Indonesia and live with them for days at a time.

The book details all these activities as well as his wife Ann’s prolific writing career. But in an extremely detailed way the author described Lindbergh’s last days which, at least for me, were kind of sad. However, there is so much in this book about a man with a remarkably adventurous life that I would rank this book as also a remarkably adventurous book.




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Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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Suzanne I'll be interested in your thoughts. He was a complex man for sure and a challenging spouse.


Arminius I did not get to his marriage yet. Going from an introverted person to a mega superstar at the age of 24 in the era of superstardom may have had a negative impact on him. I only finished up to where he is paraded around Europe after his successful flight. So, I shall see.


Arminius This a darn good book. I am slowly reading it. I read about a 1/2 chapter a day. I am just too tired that when I get the chance to read, I don't.


Arminius As for being a spouse, he was very self-centered. However, his wife spent too much time following him.


Arminius Yes Vicki but she was very educated and came from a very wealthy family. She had the brains and the money to pursue other interests. Also, the two of them left their new born baby in order to gallivant around the world.


Arminius She was 23 and he was 27 when they married. She certainly could have been different. In an odd way, she did fulfill her dream of becoming an accomplished author, in at least some part, by describing adventures that he took her on.

And it wasn't a bad marriage to begin with, in my opinion.



Arminius They were the kind of parents to put their kids on hold. She was certainly different than her contemporaries in that regard.


Arminius I guess we are all different. Charles did encourage Ann to employ her passions a little later in their marriage. And he never strayed but she at least emotionally had.


Arminius I wrote too soon. She wound up having more than an emotional affair with another guy.

I will be finished with this book soon, I hope. I will write a review and leave out the marriage problems. There is so much more that went on. And admire both Charles and Ann.



Suzanne Great review. He was so complex don't you think? He didn't share much emotionally and that must have been hard for his wife and children. Agree that there was too much on the kidnapping but that was the crime of the century at that time and is what so many people think of when they hear his name...


Arminius Yes, I think he was complex. He was also a little cold as well as a little self-centered. He was very smart though and hard working.


message 12: by Valentinio (new)

Valentinio Victory I never found Lindberg to be a very appealing historical figure. He was not someone I cared to read about. In your review you pointed out that some of the "facts" that I believed to be true are not facts at all. Thank you for pointing out these errors to me


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