The Wright Brothers, by David McCullough, paints a portrait of two heroes and celebrities who stand in sharp contrast to those of today. The brothers didn’t look to maximize their fame; they simply wanted due credit. They didn’t try to amass enormous wealth; they simply ran a business.
They labored in
obscurity–steadily, slowly, step by step perfecting their flying machine. Such was their reticence that they made no full-scale public demonstration until five years after their first-in-world-history controlled, powered, manned flight at Kitty Hawk.
When fame came upon them in Europe and the United States, it changed them not one whit. They politely accepted the accolades but refused to take to heart the effusive praise heaped on them. They mingled with royalty and billionaires but never thought better of themselves as a result.
When thousands came to watch, if things weren’t just right for a flight, they sent the crowds home without a thought. They would not be pushed or pressured into doing anything by anyone. Only their own inner character and priorities guided them.
They weren’t perfect, but by the end of the book we certainly wish there were many more like them in the public eye today. And we have David McCullough to thank for this high quality, readable narrative history that reminds us what Americans once were like.