Even after twenty years, A. Scott Berg’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Charles Lindberg remains “the definitive account” of one of the 20th century’s most extraordinary figures.
Few American icons provoke more enduring fascination than Charles Lindbergh—renowned for his one-man transatlantic flight in 1927, remembered for the sorrow surrounding the kidnapping and death of his firstborn son in 1932, and reviled by many for his opposition to America's entry into World War II. Lindbergh's is “a dramatic and disturbing American story,” says the *Los Angeles Times Book Review, and this biography—the first to be written with unrestricted access to the Lindbergh archives and extensive interviews of his friends, colleagues, and close family members—is “a thorough, level-headed evaluation of the glories, tragedies, and often infuriating complexities of this extraordinary life” (Newsday).
Lindbergh, writes Berg, was "the most celebrated living person ever to walk the earth." It's a brash statement for a biography that makes its points through a wealth of fact rather than editorial (or psychological) surmise, but after the 1927 solo flight to Paris and the 1932 kidnapping of his infant son, most readers will agree. Berg (Max Perkins) writes with the cooperation, although not necessarily the approval, of the Lindbergh family, having been granted full access to the unpublished diaries and papers of both Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The result is a solidly written book that while revealing few new secrets (there are discoveries about Lindbergh's father's illegitimacy and Mrs. Lindbergh's 1956 affair with her doctor, Dana Atchley) instructs and fascinates through the richness of detail. There are no new insights into the boy flier, no new theories about the kidnapping, but there is a chilling portrait of a man who did not seem to enjoy many of the most basic human emotions. Perhaps more attention to Lindbergh's near-worship of the Nobel Prize-winning doctor, Alexis Carrel, would have explained more about his enigmatic character. Berg details Lindbergh's prewar trips to Nazi Germany at the request of the U.S. government; his leadership in the America First movement; his role in first promoting commercial aviation; and, during WWII, improving the efficiency of the Army Air Corps. As the book reaches its conclusion, however, it's the sympathetic portrait of Mrs. Lindbergh creating a life of her own while her husband chooses to be elsewhere that gives the biography the emotional scaffolding it lacked. The writing is workmanlike and efficient, and the story, familiar as it may be, encapsulates the history of the century. Photos. FYI: Putnam was said to have paid a seven-figure advance for Lindbergh in 1990.
Berg gives a fascinating account of an American hero who was often misunderstood but also caused some of his own dilemmas. Great read!....EAF
Fascinating look at one of the most interesting American figures in the history of the country.