"A fast-paced, dynamic account of the race to cross the Atlantic, and the larger-than-life personalities of the aviators who captured the world's attention In 1919, a prize of $25,000 was offered to the first aviator to cross the Atlantic in either direction between France and America. Although it was one of the most coveted prizes in the world, it sat unclaimed (not without efforts) for eight long years, until the spring of 1927. It was then, during five incredibly tense weeks, that one of those magical windows in history opened, when there occurred a nexus of technology, innovation, character, and spirit that led so many contenders (from different parts of the world) to all suddenly be on the cusp of the exact same achievement at the exact same time. Atlantic Fever is about the race; it is a milestone in American history whose story has never been fully told. Richard Byrd, Noel Davis, Stanton Wooster, Clarence Chamberlin, Charles Levine, Rene; Fonck, Charles Nungesser, and Fran�ois Coli--all had equal weight in the race with Charles Lindbergh.
Jackson (The Thief at the End of the World: Rubber, Power, and the Seeds of Empire) places Lindbergh's historic flight of May 20-21, 1927, in the dramatic framework of the "Great Atlantic Air Race," which began eight years earlier when Franco-American hotelier Ramond Orteig sponsored a $25,000 prize to the first aviator to cross the Atlantic. Starting with the U.S. Navy's 1919 Curtiss NC-4 flying boat stopover crossing, Jackson traces the futile attempts to win the Orteig Prize until the spring of 1927, when a bevy of pilots stepped forth to compete for the honor no matter the cost. Jackson's compelling portraits of these contenders, including Richard Byrd, Rene Fonck, Charles Nungesser, and Clarence Chamberlin, place Lindbergh's successful bid in perspective. The reader is reminded that "Lindy" was the last contestant to arrive in New York but the first to depart, owing to the simplicity of his effort compared with the technical, funding, and personnel complexities of his rivals' preparations. VERDICT A penetrating evaluation of Lindbergh's triumph set against the backdrop of the hero-worshipping Twenties. Painstakingly researched, Jackson's balanced work is a singular contribution to the history of flight in general and to Lindbergh historiography in particular. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 11/7/11.]-John Carver Edwards, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Cleveland (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Farrar, Straus and Giroux
May 08, 2012
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