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. Read more...
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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.
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Powerful, provocative and deeply disturbing, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me should be mandatory listening. Coates reads his eloquent assessment of what it means to be black in a decidedly non-post-racial America, and it’s affecting to hear the controlled passion in his voice. Written as a cautionary letter to his 15-year-old son and wrapped in his recollections of growing up in Baltimore and going to Howard University, it’s also a meditation on the ingrained structural racism still present in our society.
Early in The Story of the Lost Child, the last of Elena Ferrante’s much admired Neapolitan novels, she describes Elena, her main character, as having “a natural ability to transform small private events into public reflection.” Ferrante has perfected that kind of transformation in these four brilliant novels that consider two women, their lifelong friendship and competition, their very different ways of dealing with what limits a woman and what frees her. It is read by Hillary Huber.
Distinguished historian David McCullough has done it again. The Wright Brothers is the fabulously detailed, always riveting story of how Wilbur and Orville Wright taught themselves to fly and changed the world forever. Drawing on the brothers’ diaries, letters and private family correspondence, McCullough recreates their extraordinary achievement in full color, and he narrates in an appealing, let-me-tell-you-a-story voice that enhances his flowing, elegant style.
Elizabeth Alexander’s lyrically written, lyrically read The Light of the World is an elegiac love letter to her husband, Ficre, their harmonious marriage and their two teenage sons. It’s a moving, often raw, often joyful memoir of their life together until his sudden death just after his 50th birthday. An Eritrean, a painter and a chef, he was cherished by family and friends. Acclaimed poet Alexander worked through her loss and longing with words, words that now let us share her journey.
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You can look for grand themes and literary gestures in Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, Purity, performed here by a trio of excellent narrators, or you can be swept into the intertwined plot lines that roil around the protagonists as they reveal themselves, their relationships, their very contemporary angst and their quest for identity. We meet young Pip (yes, a nod to Great Expectations), her wildly neurotic mother, the father she’s been searching for and a fabulous Assange-esque activist who leaks big secrets but harbors his own. Their backstories unfold with flashes of mordant wit as Franzen’s dissection of unhappy families reaches dazzling new heights.