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Download To Conquer the Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample To Conquer the Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight, by James Tobin Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (97 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: James Tobin Narrator: Boyd Gaines Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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"For some years I have been afflicted with the belief that flight is possible to man. My disease has increased in severity and I feel that it will soon cost me an increased amount of money if not my life."

So wrote a quiet young Ohioan in 1900, one in an ancient line of men who had wanted to fly -- wanted it passionately, fecklessly, hopelessly. But at the turn of the twentieth century, Wilbur Wright and a scattered handful of other adventurers conceived a conviction that the dream lay at last within reach, and in a headlong race across ten years and two continents, they competed to conquer the air. James Tobin, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in biography, has at last given this inspiring story its definitive telling.

For years Wright and his younger brother, Orville, experimented in utter obscurity. Meanwhile, the world watched as the imperious Samuel Langley, armed with a rich contract from the U.S. War Department and all the resources of the Smithsonian Institution, sought to create the first manned flying machine. While Langley became obsessed with flight as a problem of power, the Wrights grappled with it as a problem of balance. Thus their machines took two very different paths -- one toward oblivion, the other toward the heavens.

To Conquer the Air is a hero's tale of overcoming obstacles within and without. It is the story of mankind's most wondrous technological achievement; and it is an account of the mystery of creativity and character. Years later, Orville Wright would remark to Charles Lindbergh: "No one quite understands the spirit and conditions of those times." In the centennial year of human flight, To Conquer the Air is itself a heroic achievement. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • To Conquer the Air is in every way a thrilling story that takes the Wright brothers out of their traditional isolation at Dayton and Kitty Hawk and places them front and center in a drama of invention, daring, competition, and eventual triumph.” 

    Justin Kaplan, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain: A Biography

  • “James Tobin explains with meticulous clarity the mysteries of nature and the challenges of technology that vexed the Wright brothers’ pursuit of machine-powered flight…How two homespun Midwestern tinkerers prevailed against such formidable competitors in the race to achieve the miracle of flight is a tale as thrilling as it is inspirational. An utterly engrossing read.” 

    David M. Kennedy, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929–1945

  • “Fabulous…fascinating…A tale about the triumph of sweat and labor over might and money. It’s hard to think of a better book to bring next time one climbs aboard an airplane.” 

    Seattle Times

  • “A wonderful story, wonderfully told…a history that delivers all the suspense and heartache of a novel, and is as difficult to put down.” 

    Kansas City Star

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Ken | 11/19/2013

    " Very interesting to learn not only about the wright brothers, but also their main competitors in the race for flight. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Dave | 10/18/2013

    " This book came highly recommended by someone (Uncle Marvin?) but I didn't care that much for it. Maybe you would though. It was pretty complete on the history of the Wright Brothers. Read it long ago. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Paul | 9/30/2013

    " Fascinating portrait of the Wrights as a family as well as others pursuing the goal of heavier-than-air flight "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Jen Andrews | 8/16/2012

    " Matt told me to read this book...And I really didn't like it. It's one of the few books that I quit reading after only a few chapters. It was really slow and had too many subplots. "

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