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Dawn Over Kitty Hawk: The Novel of the Wright Brothers [Hardcover]

Walter J. Boyne
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 16 2003
The names Wilbur and Orville Wright stand out in history as the inventors of the airplane, but lost in history are those who in the closing years of the nineteenth century and the first years of the twentieth shared the same passion: to develop the first powered aircraft. Some spent entire lives and fortunes chasing the dream, including men like the embittered Augustus Herring, who'd flown a heavier than air machine for several seconds in 1898; the pompous Samuel Pierpont Langley, of the Smithsonian Institution, who was backed by the US War Department, and even the legendary American inventor Alexander Graham Bell. These men, along with European competitors such as Louis Blériot, chased what many believed to be the impossible dream of manned, powered flight. But the Wright Brothers were the first to succeed, thanks to a combination of courage, genius, and downright stubbornness! Many followed in their footsteps, including such arch-competitors as Glenn Curtiss.

The Wright Brothers' father was a huge factor who dominated their lives, trying to control their every thought and action. A bishop of the United Brethren Church, Milton Wright wanted his sons to succeed in their bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio, not risk their lives. Bishop Wright saw no reason for his sons to risk everything on an isolated, windy beach in faraway North Carolina a beach called Kitty Hawk. He tried to quash their dream, but Orville and Wilbur rebelled, ultimately proving the impossible by flying on December 17, 1903. They brought the dawn of aviation, the industry that dominated the twentieth century and set the stage for the space race.

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From Booklist

With the hundredth anniversary of Wilbur and Orville Wright's flight at Kitty Hawk, several nonfiction books have commemorated the historic event. Now comes a novel about these brothers who developed the first powered aircraft. Blending fact and fiction, Boyne offers an interesting cast of characters, primarily Wilbur and Orville, who owned a bicycle shop, and their father, Milton, a 70-year-old preacher who opposed his sons' plans to fly, fearing they would be killed. But there is also sister Katharine, who is having a torrid affair with a friend; Samuel Langley, a scientist and secretary of the Smithsonian Institution; and Octave Chanute, an aeronautics expert. But let us not forget Albert Blohm, a scientist and professor who tried to repudiate the Wright brothers' claim to be the first to fly; Annette Coujade, Blohm's mistress; and Augustus Herring, an aviation pioneer. The love affairs may be fact or fiction, but Boyne, a former director of the National Air and Space Museum and author of Weapons of Desert Storm (1991), has written an absorbing book, rich in detail. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

“The stirring story of the Wright brothers, plus a colorful supporting cast of high-flyers during the baby-step era of aviation, entertainingly presented-warts and all.”-Kirkus Review on Dawn Over Kitty Hawk

“A fascinating account from a respected authority. Boyne captures the passions of the people in aviation’s earliest days who risked-and sometimes lost-everything to accomplish the impossible.”--W. E. B. Griffin on Dawn Over Kitty Hawk

“Dawn Over Kitty Hawk is an amazing book. Not only is it riveting history, it is also a suspense story that takes readers inside the ferocious competition to be the first in flight.”-Thomas Fleming on Dawn Over Kitty Hawk

“Dawn Over Kitty Hawk goes beyond two men and science and technology. It is about America, the meaning of this country, the inspiration of freedom, the exhilaration of curiosity, being first and being unafraid.”-Hugh Sidey on Dawn Over Kitty Hawk

“The Wright brothers gave flight to mankind’s great dream. Walter Boyne has given their story wings. It is a compelling adventure of men, their vision, and their travails written in a manner that captures the excitement and thrill of that first flight.”-Harold Coyle on Dawn Over Kitty Hawk

“A magnificent novel of the dawn of the aviation age by the world’s foremost aviation historian, Dawn Over Kitty Hawk dramatically exposes the humanity, conflicts, and genius of the men who gave us wings. This terrific historical novel is as captivating, and revealing, as Gore Vidal’s Lincoln. You owe yourself this ride.”-Stephen Coonts on Dawn Over Kitty Hawk

“This book is for everyone whoever built a flying model, overhauled a motorscooter just for fun, or wondered what kind of people stepped into early flying machines when cold sober.”-Dean Ing on Dawn Over Kitty Hawk

“Mr. Boyne has done for the Wright brothers and aviation what Shaara did for Gettysburg and the Civil War. Based on his extensive knowledge of the birth of aviation, he brings to life people that were people-not just names and dates in history books.”-Larry Bond on Dawn Over Kitty lHawk

“Boyne flies solo, takes the facts from the ground and gives them wing as an engrossing story. He’s taken well researched dry historical data and made it a fun and easy read.”-Autoweek on Dawn Over Kitty Hawk

“The stirring story of the Wright brothers, plus a colorful supporting cast of high-flyers during the baby-step era of aviation, entertainingly presented-warts and all.”-Kirkus Review on Dawn Over Kitty Hawk

“A superb novel that captures the intense drive and pioneering spirit that motivated Orville and Wilbur Wright to become the first aviators to take the skies in powered flight.”-Roanoke Times on Dawn Over Kitty Hawk

“Absorbing... rich in detail.”-Booklist on Dawn Over Kitty Hawk

“In this historical novel, Boyne displays an extraordinary knowledge of early flight and the men who invented and flew the ‘heavier-than-air flying machines’ of the early 1900s.”-Library Journal on Dawn Over Kitty Hawk

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
She'd been dead these seven years, but the image of Susan Wright still loomed large in the Bishop's consciousness. Read the first page
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5.0 out of 5 stars History turned into a great story Dec 14 2003
Format:Hardcover
As a pilot I have always been fascinated with the Wright's accomplishments and I had read several books about them but since it was the 100th anniversary of their accomplishments, I thought I would refresh my knowledge. At first, when I picked this up, I thought it wouldn't be a good read because it was historical fiction and I wanted facts, but I was glad I selected it. The author did an excellent job of fleshing out all the characters associated with the Wright's race to controlled flight. Plenty of research, especially of the Wright's bounty of letters written to colleagues and family about their exploits, gave the author a good feel for how the Wrights interacted with each other and the world, as well as filling out the story with facts. And instead of just reading dry facts, you really felt like you were there, experiencing the thrills, challenges and disappointments that they felt. And he wove together very well how the other major characters of the dawn of aviation (Langley, Chanute, Herring, Curtis to name a few) cooperated and (mostly) competed to be the first to fly. I believe the author kept the perfect balance between good story telling and historical accuracy.
The true measure of the story though, was that, even though I knew most of the facts already, and what the outcome was, I couldn't put the book down easily. It was a great read and I recommend it to anyone.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Making the Wright's accomplishments real... July 10 2003
Format:Hardcover
There is an old pilot's trick for looking at things...you're more likely to see something if you look slightly away from where you expect to see it, be it the fighter pilot looking for the speck of another aircraft, or the soaring pilot staring for the glint of wings of a circling sailplane in an uprising air current. Peripheral vision is more sensitive and by not looking directly at something, it paradoxically makes it easier to see. And this is the way Walter Boyne's Dawn over Kitty Hawk, the Novel of the Wright Brothers works. By looking at the Orville and Wilbur and their complex family in fictional form, he allows us to see a truly vivid portrait of their accomplishments, set in a fascinating age in American history.
A former Director of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Boyne weaves many of the major characters from the dawn of flight into a gripping tale that covers everything from the arrogance of much of the scientific establishment of the period to the byzantine wheeling and dealings of the robber baron financiers and their accomplices. Yet he never loses sight of the brilliance, hard work, determination and unbelievable courage that it took for the Wrights to launch forth into the unknown ocean of the air. Boyne's career as an Air Force pilot enables him to convey the feel and danger of those first flights in a way that puts the reader in the air with the Wrights as they struggle to understand the mysteries of flight. He takes the reader along, all the way from the first tentative gliding flights, through the crashes that led to mastery of control and power, ending in their triumphant flights in France and world acclaim.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling history June 22 2003
Format:Hardcover
Whenever Walter Boyne sits down to write about aviation you simply know that the result will be enthralling, informative, and engaging in the most direct human ways. So it is with DAWN, one of the most important books about the Wrights ever written. Boyne brings all his experience, knowledge and writing skills to bear on the epochal Wrights and builds for the reader a new level of understanding about the men who dared so greatly and succeeded so admirably, who established the core of what has become a century later one of the world's most significant areas of endeavour. Along with the telephone, car and computer, the airplane has been one of the most powerful pivots of modern life, giving rise--for example--to today's biggest world industry, tourism. The Wrights risked their lives and committed their skills to make it possible, and this book tells us how.
It also manages to debunk many of the myths and half-truths that invade almost any history.
Isn't it curious how achievements seem almost obvious given the 20/20 hindsight of those of us who came afterwards? This book provides, through fiction meticulously researched and aligned with history, everything we should know factually about the Wrights, framed in a human perspective that gives the men juices and their achievements a more brilliant and accessible reality. One completes the book wishing that one could have been there to witness the events and meet the men, but Boyne brings us very close to those feelings.
Millions of men and women are the beneficiaries of the Wrights efforts, and of the aerospace industry for which they laid down the foundations. Anyone who has ever flown, or been carried in an airplane, or looked up to see those magnificent machines overhead, should read this book. They will not be disappointed.
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