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

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  3,919 ratings  ·  450 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.

Patrick Hamblin Groom also identified the Stuka as being one of the main bombers in the Battle of Britain. In actuality, the Heinkel 111 was the primary German bomber…moreGroom also identified the Stuka as being one of the main bombers in the Battle of Britain. In actuality, the Heinkel 111 was the primary German bomber. (less)

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Apr 21, 2013 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
This book deals with the three aviation pioneers Charles Lindbergh, Eddie Rickenbacker and Jimmy Doolittle who are responsible for their achievements to the development of aviation history.

All three men have on thing in common: all contributed to the development of the American aviation. Rickenbacker became the top US flying ace in World War I, Doolittle became the top military test pilot in the 1920s and of course renowned by the Tokyo Raid and Lindbergh became the most famous man alive by flyi
Bon Tom
Mar 14, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Books like this leave me speechless. Unbelievable epic that really happened. Moreover, this is several real life hero characters, each with several of their monumental adventures. And each one of them influenced the aviation in paradigm-changing ways. Phenomenal book with huge re-reading value. Kudos to all the work put in, it really shows.
Jul 27, 2016 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
Oct 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I found this book on a shelf at a friend of the family's house. Said friend of the family is a huge history and armed forces buff, he has a massive shelf of historical biographies, half of which were already on my to read list and the other half which were added while I was there, but I saw this one and it looked really interesting. I don't know much about the history of flight, so I pulled up my overdrive account, discovered that the audio book was there and have been lost for several weeks.

Barnabas Piper
Dec 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I knew Groom from his fiction, but his history is tremendous. He is David McCullough-esque in his ability to weave the narrative of history together. I learned so much from this book and was captivated for the duration.
Jesper Jorgensen
Dec 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii, biography, airpower
The best book I have listened to this year and of the best ever. Did not know that much in depth about the three. So, it was very interesting to get to know more about them, on the backdrop of bits of relevant twentieth century history. With aviation technology history in between. Robertson Deans 'Morgan-Freeman-ish' voice is the icing on the cake. ...more
Sep 18, 2016 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 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 is ...more
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book examines the lives of Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, and Charles Lindbergh, and it demonstrates that these men – who all did heroic deeds and helped bring aviation from its infancy to not only military power but also innovated safety, navigation, and fuel efficiency advances that made commercial flight possible and safe. Each of them had flaws and controversies, but these imperfect men made great contributions, as well.

Notable in this book is the defense of Charles Lindbergh – be
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 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 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
Dan Walter
Dec 26, 2016 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
Dec 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
A very well written history of three heroes of early avation: Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and Eddie Rickenbacker. The writing was very accessible and showed me signs of these men I never knew about.

Because of Lindbergh's actions against Roosevelt, I had always disliked him. However, this book showed me so much more about him that I want to know more.

If you are interested in American or aviation history or if you just enoy biography, I recommend this!
Oct 11, 2013 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
C.H. Cobb
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It takes a very skilled writer to accomplish what Winston Groom has done in The Aviators. He weaves the tales of Rickenbacker, Doolittle, and Lindbergh into seamless whole.

It’s a great book, filled with fascinating stories of perhaps the three most fascinating characters in the history of aviation, outside of the Wright brothers themselves. Groom tracks all three characters in a fairly tight chronology, writing a virtual biography of each man. The most confusing feature of the book for me will p
Michael Gerald
Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
Yet another piece of US propoaganda.
Mar 06, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, audio, biography
Insightful, interesting, and educational! Great book, with some very good insight into all three heroes. Despite the differences in their backgrounds and some of their attitudes, all three were repeatedly willing to put their lives on the line for their country. While Doolittle and Rickenbacker were more straightforward, I think Mr. Groom did an excellent job of handling the attitudes (and some of the reasons) behind the persona of Lindbergh. I think it was written very objectively, and gave go ...more
Jerrod Carter
Nov 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a great overview of the history of flight through three of the earliest pioneers after the Wright Brothers. I knew precious little about Mr. Lindbergh and absolutely nothing about Mr. Rickenbacker and Mr. Doolittle. Three absolutely amazing individuals with all their heroic and all their flawed attributes on parade in this book made it a very interesting read. Highly recommended.
Emily Doggett
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lively history of these three men, marred somewhat by errors in historical details. In addition to those errors already mentioned in other reviews, the author attributes the invention of firing between the propeller blades to the French instead of the Germans (Anthony Fokker). Still, well worth reading.
Jun 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Winston Groom's writing is fantastic. I love a good narrative history book, and he does them SO well. While I wasn't very familiar with Eddie Ricknbacker (I only knew him as a WWI flying ace), I would've told you I was pretty familiar with Charles Lindbergh and Jimmy Doolittle. Yet I learned SO much about their contributions to flight and WWII. I couldn't put it down. ...more
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
And you thought you knew them.

As a lover of history, war, and aviation to follow in depth, robust accounts of the full and expanded lives of these great Americans was a privilege . A must read ,real, for everyone...
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Don't miss this. Lives filled with action and heroic deeds. Not necessarily outstanding in their ideas and personal affairs but when it came to standing with their country they walked the walk. ...more
Roger Causey
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
From Winston Groom, my favorite Civil War author/historian, The Aviators is a great look into the lives of three of the most influential pilots, their lives and their contributions to the advancement of aviation. Great read.
Oct 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
What a fun book! Full of high-flying adventure stories in the telling of Eddie Rickenbacker's, Jimmy Doolittle's, and Charles Lindbergh's experiences in aviation. They were larger than life, taking what today are unimaginable risks to further our knowledge of what machines can do in the air. ...more
Dec 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Groom has a remarkable way of telling the story of three of the most famous people in early American aviation. Each, from the WWI Ace status of Rickenbacker, to Lindberg's Spirit of St. Louis flight, to Doolittle's heroic bombing of Japan only a few months after Pearl Harbor - all three had they done nothing more would be worth a story. Rickenbacker - who was a first class race car driver eventually bought the Indianapolis Speedway and brought out a car brand with some innovative features. But t ...more
Jul 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
Great storytelling about 3 gifted and famous airmen who flew from the early days of aviation through WW1, WW2 and beyond. Lindbergh, Rickenbacker and Doolittle each had a huge impact on aviation history. The author provides a lot of detail about their lives, and how they each changed history through their efforts.
Andi Vaughn
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great history lesson about these men who I really knew nothing about.
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Winston Francis Groom Jr. was 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 Ar ...more

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“By 1929 a handful of farsighted flight pioneers had concluded that “aviation could not progress until planes could fly safely day or night in almost any kind of weather.” Foremost among these was Dr. Jimmy Doolittle, recently armed with a PhD in aeronautical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In” 1 likes
“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
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