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The Wright Brothers Audiobook, by David McCullough Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: David McCullough Narrator: David McCullough Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2015 ISBN: 9781442376090
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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. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “[An] enjoyable, fast-paced tale…A fun, fast ride.”


  • “Another work of blue-chip history from this exalted source.”

    New York Times

  • “A story of timeless importance, told with uncommon empathy and fluency…A story, well told, about what might be the most astonishing feat mankind has ever accomplished…The Wright Brothers soars.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “McCullough…brings his deft touch with language and his eye for humanizing details to the unusually close relationship between a pair of brothers from Dayton, Ohio, who changed aviation history…Like other great biographies before it, The Wright Brothers tells the story about the individuals behind the great moments in history, while never sacrificing beauty in language and reverence in tone.”

  • “Does more than chronicle their painstaking, game-changing breakthrough…It reveals what truly remarkable men they were: their unparalleled work ethic, their dogged persistence, their unwavering modesty.”

    Associated Press

  • “Draws on Wright family archives to tell the story of this remarkable duo, whose first solo flight in 1903 marked a turning point for science, travel and warfare. McCullough brings special insight to the dynamics of the Wright family, including Orville and Wilbur’s outgoing sister Katharine, who tirelessly supported the brothers in their work.”


  • “McCullough effectively blends impeccable writing with historical rigor and strong character definition in his biography…Highlights of McCullough’s narrative include his discussions of the Wrights’ innovative conception of wing-warping as a means of flight control…Highly recommended.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “An outstanding saga of the lives of two men who left such a giant footprint on our modern age.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “McCullough’s usual warm, evocative prose makes for an absorbing narrative; he conveys both the drama of the birth of flight and the homespun genius of America’s golden age of innovation.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “A charmingly pared-down life of the ‘boys’ that grounds their dream of flight in decent character and work ethic…McCullough highlights the intellectual stimulation that fed these bookish, creative, close-knit siblings…An educational and inspiring biography of seminal American innovators.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “A stellar production on every count and a supremely satisfying listening experience. McCullough’s calm, avuncular voice, familiar to millions from his PBS productions, is for many of us the voice of history itself. In the Wrights he sees exemplified the values of courage, character, and perseverance, which he has honored in book after book, never with such unqualified admiration as here. McCullough concentrates on the first decade of the 1900s—the Wrights’ years of labor and invention and a period of unparalleled public excitement their first flights inspired in Europe and America. The text is concise, rich in telling and illuminating detail. You feel you’re not just listening but seeing the story unfold before your eyes. Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month for May 2015
  • A BookPage Top Pick in Biographies for May 2015
  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • A Wall Street Journal bestseller
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A Boston Globe Pick of Books to Read This Summer
  • A New York Times bestseller
  • A 2015 Amazon Best Books of the Year Selection for History
  • A New York Times Best Book of 2015

Listener Reviews

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  • 4.333333 out of 54.333333 out of 54.333333 out of 54.333333 out of 54.333333 out of 5 Tim | 9/13/2016

    " Book club was about to meet and I had lots of driving to do in the final three days. I got the audiobook in minutes, listened for the hours I was in the car, and was totally prepared for the meeting of the club. McCullough's gravitas and deliberate reading gave me a strong sense of HOW he saw the historical figures. Although he is not animated as a reader, he was clear. "

About the Author

David McCullough, acclaimed historian and New York Times bestselling author, has twice received the Pulitzer Prize, for Truman and John Adams, and twice received the National Book Award, for The Path Between the Seas and Mornings on Horseback. His other acclaimed books are 1776, Brave Companions, The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge, The Greater Journey, and The Wright Brothers. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.