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The Wright Brothers

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  80,031 ratings  ·  6,244 reviews
The #1 New York Times bestseller from David McCullough, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize—the dramatic story-behind-the-story about the courageous brothers who taught the world how to fly—Wilbur and Orville Wright.

On a winter day in 1903, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, two brothers—bicycle mechanics from Dayton, Ohio—changed history. But it would take the world
Paperback, 336 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by Simon Schuster (first published March 20th 2015)
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Jason Hart In this book, patents and lawsuits are mentioned but little attention is given to the Wright's legal battles. This book mostly covers just their perio…moreIn this book, patents and lawsuits are mentioned but little attention is given to the Wright's legal battles. This book mostly covers just their period of innovation from around 1900 to 1911.(less)
Carol Albert Ah, I see you haven't read the McCullough book yet! The Wright Brothers first powered flight was in 1903 at Kitty Hawk, followed up shortly by others …moreAh, I see you haven't read the McCullough book yet! The Wright Brothers first powered flight was in 1903 at Kitty Hawk, followed up shortly by others at Huffman Prairie in Dayton. They were secretive for years, worried that someone would steal their ideas before they got a contract for purchase of their invention. They DID put up with a lot of ridicule for years. They wouldn't fly publicly, but locals around here (I'm in Dayton) could take a streetcar out to Huffman Prairie and watch them practice. Once Wilbur demonstrated their Flyer in LeMans, skeptics were sold. The same season, Orville was in the U.S. also demonstrating their machine. It was obvious that they had been doing this a while. Orville broke records for time in the air; over 2 hours, flying in formations and landing gently where he had started, demonstrating complete control. That was in 1909. They became celebrities at that point.(less)

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Jeffrey Keeten
May 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
 photo First20Flight_zps91jaommt.jpg The first photo of flight snapped by a man who was taking his first picture ever. The Wright brothers were very careful to document each stage of their development not only with photography, but also with journals.

”The best dividends on the labor invested have invariably come from seeking more knowledge rather than more power.” Wilbur and Orville Wright

They were brothers.

As close as two peas in a pod and you could make it three with Katharine, the little sister who also at times provided the
Elyse  Walters
Mar 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Wright Brothers", by David McCullough, is FANTASTIC!!!
I was 'hooked' instantly listening to the audiobook! Soooooo Good!!!!!!

I was immediately inspired by Wilbur, Orville, and their family values. Their dad was a
Bishop. There mother may have been shy but was a gifted 'fix-it' woman. There wasn't anything around the house that broke, that she couldn't fix. Wilbur and Orville credit their mother for their engineering talents. Don't you love it that these terrific guys credit their 'mother'
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a gem of a book. McCullough is one of my favorite history writers, and I think The Wright Brothers is one of his best works.

Wilbur and Orville Wright make for a fascinating story. Born in Dayton, Ohio, the brothers were so clever and mechanically gifted that it seemed they could fix or create anything. They became interested in human flight at a young age after playing with a toy helicopter, made from just a stick and some rubber bands. The guys read everything they could about flight an
A beguiling tale of how a rather ordinary pair of brothers invented the first successful airplane and thereby changed history. A wonderfully told story with a lavish picture gallery that I think most readers could appreciate. It leaves you with the illusion that if you have enough persistence you might achieve personal ambitions of your own that could prove important. Yet they have some combination of the “right stuff” at the right time and the right place that appears to be quite special and no ...more
Angela M
Mar 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I don't read a lot of non fiction , but I didn't want to pass up the opportunity to read this book which tells the story of how two men changed the future. Having read David McCullough's John Adams, I knew that I would get an education at the very least .

Two of the chapter titles so aptly reflect what Wilbur and Orville Wright were all about - "The Dream Takes Hold" and "Unyielding Resolve". Their ingenuity, perseverance, thirst for understanding of the scientific aspects of a flying machine was
Jill Hutchinson
I hate to admit it but I never knew much about the Wright brothers beyond the basic story of their invention of the "flying machine". Now that I have finished this well done biography by one of my favorite historians, it appears that there wasn't much to know about them in the first place. Their whole lives were dedicated to the premise that man could fly and that they were going to find the secret. They had very few friends, no lady friends, no hobbies, were secretive, shy, and as close as iden ...more
Connie G
How did two brothers without any funding or engineering education become pioneers in aviation? David McCullough answers that question in his superb book, "The Wright Brothers". Wilbur and Orville grew up in a family that loved learning. They were also very intelligent, focused, persistent, and hard working. The brothers owned a bicycle shop, possessed exceptional mechanical ability, and designed their own bicycles. They were interested in flight, and gazed at birds for hours to study how wings w ...more
Apr 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What You Get is Very Good, But I Wanted More

Another very good book by David McCullough. I have yet to read a book by this author that doesn't make history fascinating.

Aeronautics isn't a topic that draws me, but McCullough had me thinking about the miracle of flying. He had me observing birds with a different eye.

This is a relatively short book. That covered is that which a "normal reader" will want to know. There isn't a whole lot about the Wright Brothers' childhood, neither the patent lawsui
"Years later, a friend told Orville that he and his brother would always stand as an example of how far Americans with no special advantages could advance in the world. 'But it isn't true' Orville responded emphatically, 'to say we had no special advantages .... the greatest thing in our favor was growing up in a family where there was always much encouragement to intellectual curiosity.'"

Growing up, aviation was pretty much everywhere I looked. My father was a pilot, my mother had been an Airli
Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book about the inventors of the airplane. David McCullough is a great admirer of the Wright Brothers. He mentions, over and over again, how passionate and single-minded they were. They focused on their purpose; to develop the science of aeronautics to the point where flight would become possible. They worked very very hard, all day long, under less-than-optimal conditions. I did not realize that for a few years they flew only gliders at Kitty Hawk, before attempting to use a ...more
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I was completely oblivious about the amazing lives of Wilbur and Orville Wright. This book should be required reading for every high school student in the US.
"On July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong, another American born and raised in Southwestern Ohio, stepped onto the moon, he carried with him, in tribute to the Wright Brothers, a small swatch of the muslin from a wing of their 1903 Flyer."

This was a very thorough bio of Orville and Wilbur, read by the author, the incomparable David McCullough. Their story is already well known if you studied them at all in school, but McCullough was able to add some dimension to the brothers and to their family mem
Thank God it did pick up. It was a very good informational book about the Wright Bros, but it was similar to a history book. Don't get me wrong, I love history books, but you have to be interested in the subject or it's like being back in school. If you are interested in this subject, I think you would enjoy this book. ...more
Jimmy Reagan
Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
He’s still got it. David McCullough, a favorite for many of us, weaves another powerful tale. I’ll confess in my looking forward to his next book that I was disappointed when I saw the press clippings for it some months ago. I wanted another John Adams or 1776. I don’t feel that way after actually reading the book. In the hands of this master writer, we learn both how important and interesting were Wilbur and Orville and how revolutionary flying was when they brought it about. I don’t believe an ...more
This was the first book of David McCullough I read, and I am now a devoted fan. His writing is clear and direct, yet he respects his readers by not talking down or attempting to be amusing. He gives sufficient detail without getting boring. I would have likes slightly more background information about the cultural context of the age and other characters, such as Lilienthal, Chanute, Flint, Curtiss, and a few others, but I appreciated that the book was not too lengthy. Richard Rhodes does this ef ...more
Sep 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
In my opinion Mr. McCullough has once again delivered a solidly researched and very readable look at an important figure, or in this case figures, in US history. In his look at the Wright Brothers, the author basically focuses on the 15 years between 1895 and 1910. These are the years of the brothers developed an interest in flight, proved their concepts, and then concluded a very successful tour of Europe, demonstrating their mastery of the air.

In telling their story, Mr. McCullough also looks
Daniel Greear
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“On July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong, another American born and raised in southwestern Ohio, stepped onto the moon, he carried with him, in tribute to the Wright brothers, a small swatch of the muslin from a wing of their 1903 Flyer.”

David McCullough is the greatest living American historian. His books are wholesome, enjoyable, and make one swell with pride over the stories of America. “The Wright Brothers” is a testament to the brothers who changed the world for the better by becoming the fi
Jun 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing story of Orville and Wilbur Wright's intrepid efforts to create human flight. Their creativity, ingenuity, perseverance, and thirst for knowledge and understanding was truly remarkable, starting with a letter to the Smithsonian asking for references and their intense study of birds.

McCullough's research is impeccable, from their bicycle designs to their efforts to find the ideal location for testing (desolate, windy Kitty Hawk), following their triumphs and setbacks, having to find suppo
A piece of the first plane flown by Wilbur Wright was left on the lunar surface by Neal Armstrong in 1968 to honor the maiden motor driven flight of 1903. From the Outer Banks of North Carolina to the moon in 65 years. Amazing!
Roy Lotz
When you open a McCullough book you know what to expect: fine prose, strong storytelling, and inspiring stories of American heroes. That is his domain, and he is the master of it. This book about the Wright brothers exemplifies all of these virtues in just over 300 pages. The audio book in particular, narrated by McCullough himself—whose folksy and yet erudite speaking voice encapsulates his ethos—is perhaps the most concentrated form of McCullough that you can imbibe.

Like many people, I was su
I haven't read nearly enough of David McCullough's books. This is my second and I loved it.

The story of the Wright Brothers is as fascinating as it is incredible. From this book I learned that they were hard working men and SO determined. Never did they give up-despite the failure of numerous tests. Neither did they ever become anyone's pawn-they refused many offers of financial backing. Even though there were times when I'm sure they could have used it, they preferred to remain independent. Th
Sep 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I don't have a particular interest in aeronautics so am hazy on any details of the subject.
I found the Wright brothers to be a delightful duo and their family to be solid and interesting. The brothers had an unconventional upbringing in that they were allowed to follow their interests and encouraged in their endeavours. They were such a solid, down-to-earth family as well. It was really nice to read about a family that supported each other.
The brothers were genius
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McCullough's biography of the Wright Brothers explores their fascination with aviation and the race to be first to create a machine capable of flight. Although the brothers lacked a college education, their mechanical skills and their fascination with birds proved useful in being the first to fly. The brothers, from Dayton,Ohio, found a place in the Kill Devil Hills/Kitty Hawk area of North Carolina to test their machine. We all know what happened. Eventually the brothers found a place nearer ho ...more
Laurie Anderson
Some wonderful details and great writing about the birth of flight. The ending came a bit abruptly, but I think that's because I wanted more. ...more
Clif Hostetler
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
David McCullough can always be counted on to turn history into an interesting story. This book brings the Wright family dynamics and personalities to life.

The brothers really did work hard on their project. One of the things they learned after finding that their glider's flight was unstable is that all existing literature of the time about wing design was little more than guess work. The Wright brother designed their own wind tunnel and tried out numerous configurations before they came up with
Gary K Bibliophile
before the review.. a few GIFs to reflect on some of the silly early ideas that people tried in the quest for flight...

Well the last one wasn’t silly (that one actually worked.)

I found the book very interesting. McCullough as usual does his research well and unfolds the story in a very entertaining way. It’s a very inspirational story. Two brothers following a dream - with limited resources, scorn from a skeptical public, and finding along the way that the *science* behind what they were basing
Jan 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Curling up with a David McCullough book is like climbing into your grandfather's lap in his favorite armchair and whispering, "Tell me a story..." It's both comfortable and exciting, familiar and spellbinding.

McCullough breathes such humanity into this history of Wilbur and Orville Wright, their family, friends, colleagues and adversaries, that I cheered, shouted, laughed, cried and soared right along with the famed aviators. Told with a passion and skill that far exceeds most fiction writers, M
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
McCullough is a master story in my book 2nd only to DKG. Learned much of wright family in this captivating read.
Alex Givant
Excellent biography of Wright's brother - interesting to read after recent visit to Washington Smithsonian Air and Space museum. ...more
Jul 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history
Prior to reading this book most of my knowledge of the Wright Brothers had come from other aviation books. None of these books dealt with the brothers in an in-depth manner. I knew of their first flight at Kitty Hawk and the fact that they were bicycle mechanics. I also knew about their wing warping technology and other tidbits. Never before did I get any inkling about what the brothers were like and the true extent of their genius. This book, while it doesn't go in-depth with the technical aspe ...more
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David McCullough is a Yale-educated, two-time recipient of both the Pulitzer Prize (Truman; John Adams) and the National Book Award (The Path Between the Seas; Mornings on Horseback). His many other highly-acclaimed works of historical non-fiction include The Greater Journey, 1776, Brave Companions, The Great Bridge, The Wright Brothers, and The Johnstown Flood. He has been honored with the Nation ...more

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There is nothing like reading a history or biography book and being so completely transported to another time and place that you find...
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“If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio. WILBUR WRIGHT” 34 likes
“All the money anyone needs is just enough to prevent one from being a burden on others.” 28 likes
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