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This book is an examination of the lives of three heroes who developed the world of aviation!

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

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 another.

The book is chock full of information and detail, but it is also full of a lot of information that can easily be found with an internet search. It is, however, well written, and it is obviously well researched. There is a plethora of facts, sometimes too many to retain. I would have preferred the book to have three distinct parts, with each part devoted to a single “star”, rather than the way it was written with all of our war “heroes” jumbled up together. There was repetition which I believe would have been less disconcerting if the focus had been continuously focused on one of the men.

Several times, over the years of these men’s lives, their paths intersected and their purposes paralleled each other. The war effort of both World Wars played a large part in the three men’s lives, although Lindbergh was younger and not involved as much with the events of WWI. He actually managed to make himself a persona non grata during part of WWII, with his loose lips.

All three pilots were devoted family members and patriots. All three were interested in air travel from their youth. One or another may have been worldlier, more educated or more financially able, but all were driven by the promise of being free in the sky, becoming birds and taking flight, opening the skies to the general public and the fighting men of our armed forces.

Each of the men figured prominently in airplane development and in the development of the airline industry as well as the automobile industry, and without them, our fighter planes would not have gained such a place of honor in history’s backward glance. Each was prominent in his own right, each made enormous contributions to society and each suffered life’s slings and arrows in one form or another.

All of the men were born within a twelve year span, and they were instrumental in, and witnesses to, the rise of the American air industry and its growth throughout the world. Of the three, only Jimmy Doolittle lived to a really ripe old age, just three years shy of his 100th birthday. Rickenbacker and Lindbergh died within a year of each other though separated by a dozen years in age. Lindbergh died the youngest, at 72, with Rickenbacker dying at age 83. Still they lived beyond the average lifespan of their day, and throughout their own lives they were dedicated to their country and to improving the lifestyles and lives of their countrymen.