Two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize David McCullough tells the dramatic story-behind-the-story about the courageous brothers who taught the world how to fly: Wilbur and Orville Wright.On December 17, 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Wilbur and Orville Wright’s Wright Flyer became the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve controlled, sustained flight with a pilot aboard. The Age of Flight had begun. How did they do it? And why? David McCullough tells the extraordinary and truly American story of the two brothers who changed the world. Sons of an itinerant preacher and a mother who died young, Wilbur and Orville Wright grew up in a small side street in Dayton, Ohio, in a house that lacked indoor plumbing and electricity but was filled with books and a love of learning. The brothers ran a bicycle shop that allowed them to earn enough money to pursue their mission in life: flight. In the 1890s flying was beginning to advance beyond the glider stage, but there were major technical challenges that the Wrights were determined to solve. They traveled to North Carolina’s remote Outer Banks to test their plane because there they found three indispensable conditions: constant winds, soft surfaces for landings, and privacy. Flying was exceedingly dangerous; the Wrights risked their lives every time they flew in the years that followed. Orville nearly died in a crash in 1908, before he was nursed back to health by his sister, Katharine, an unsung and important part of the brothers’ success and of McCullough’s book. Despite their achievement, the Wrights could not convince the US government to take an interest in their plane until after they demonstrated its success in France, where the government instantly understood the importance of their achievement. Now, in this revelatory book, master historian David McCullough draws on nearly 1,000 letters of family correspondence—plus diaries, notebooks, and family scrapbooks in the Library of Congress—to tell the full story of the Wright brothers and their heroic achievement.
To say that Pittsburgh native, David McCullough, has had an interesting life would be an understatement. He was born in 1933 and is of Scots-Irish descent, and one of four sons. He is self-described as having a "marvelous" childhood. McCullough was interested in many things.......sports, art, books, and history among them. He loved every day of school. He graduated from Yale University where he felt privileged to associate with their great faculty of the likes of John O'Hara, John Heresy and others. He frequently ate lunch with Thornton Wilder, who taught him that a good writer should maintain "an air of freedom" in their writing so that the actual end is never predictable, even in non-fiction.
McCullough enjoyed delving into the research and then doing the writing of a non-fiction book. He studied Art and English, ultimately receiving his degree, with honors, in English literature at Yale (1955). While there, he was a member of Skull and Bones and served valuable apprenticeship with Time, Life, the U.S. Information Agency, and American Heritage.
McCullough has received the Pulitizer Prize for his books on Truman and John Adam's. His other books include: The Path Between the Seas and Mornings on Horseback, The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge, Brave Companions, 1776, The Greater Journey, The Wright Brothers, The American Spirit, and his latest, The Pioneers.
McCullough has been a teacher, editor, lecturer, and familiar voice on television. He was the host of Smithsonian World, The American Experience, narrator of numerous documentaries such as Ken Burn's The Civil War. His narrative of Seabiscuit, the movie, and the Tom Hanks directed seven-part mini-series, John Adam's were very successful.
McCullough and his wife Rosalee have five children and nineteen grandchildren.......and one great-grandchild! In the words of a citation given with his honorary degree from Yale, "As an historian, he paints with words, giving us pictures of the American people that live, breathe, and above all, confront the fundamental issues of courage, achievement, and moral character".