Lindbergh by A. Scott Berg

Lindbergh
Summary
  1. Charles Lindbergh became the first person to fly over the Atlantic and did so in 1927. By accomplishing this, he became the most famous person in the world and would continue shaping the aviation industry for the rest of his life. He was also very involved in science and environmentalism, held strong anti-war opinions and despite all his accomplishments and controversy, was able to stay amazingly grounded and focused. A very interesting book about a very impressive man
Key Takeaways
  1. Lindbergh, a man from the middle of nowhere became the most famous person in the world for flying from New York to Paris in May 1927 in 33 and a half hours. He was heralded all over the world and helped forge and advise the aviation industry for the rest of his life
  2. His wife, Anne Morrow, joined him on many of his expeditions and she became a best-selling author. She loved Charles very much but there was often tension between them and she felt like there were many things that she could not tell him
  3. The “crime of the century” was the kidnapping and killing of Lindbergh’s first born son
  4. He was a loving and good father but also strict and distant – both physically and emotionally
  5. Starkly anti-war and didn’t want America joining WWII (America First) and this changed his public perception for many and after this was often seen as a Nazi-sympathizer.
  6. Helped create the first artificial heart and was also a best-selling author
  7. Amazing how he was able to stay humble and grounded throughout his entire life with that kind of constant worldwide fanfare and controversy
  8. Later in his life Lindbergh became an environmentalist and spent a lot of time in Africa
What I got out of it
  1. Prior to reading this I had no idea how big of a deal Lindbergh’s accomplishment was and that he achieved global fame and “rock star” status. His accomplishments in such wide ranging fields such as aviation and biology is very impressive as was his ability to stay humble. An impressive man on all accounts.

Read Lindbergh

  • Grandparents emigrated from Sweden
  • Father was very stubborn and determined to make a good life for himself and loved being outdoors and independent. Married a very smart and educated woman, Evangeline, who was nearly 20 years his junior
  • Born in Detroit in 1902 and raised in Little Falls, MN surrounded by nature and animals
  • Parents went through tough times but stayed together due to dads congressional seat. Grew up encouraged to be independent and adventurous
  • Went to the University of Minnesota but wasn’t a great student and eventually dropped out. However, he soon became fascinated by the budding airplane industry and became absolutely hooked. He soon joined a school in Nebraska and quickly became one of the best army pilots and stunt pilots in the US
  • Had some trouble getting financing but eventually managed but the first people he went to to buy a plane wanted their own pilot which of course he did not agree to. Then he partnered with Ryan Airlines in San Diego to build a plane from scratch where not a pound was wasted
  • He made it to Paris in 33 hours, 30 minutes and 30 seconds on May 21, 1927. Pandemonium ensued which had seldom been seen before and on a world scale. He was the most famous person alive – not only because what he accomplished, but he did it alone and was so Morally upright that he became a superstar. Hundreds of thousands of people in Paris came out to see him land and celebrate him. Royalty from all over the world wanted to entertain him and he reluctantly agreed most of the time but remained humble and upstanding throughout this whole unprecedented fame. First living person on a stamp, financial markets closed for “Lindbergh Day,” poems and songs and operas written about him…
  • “Even more impressive than Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlsntic was the way in which he composed himself afterwards”
  • “We measure heroes as we do ships, by their displacement. Colonel Lindbergh has displaced everything”
  • He soon became lonely as he experienced everything up to this point but eventually married Anne Morrow Who was shy and awkward but strong and intellectual which Lindbergh liked.
  • Commercial aviation became his crusade and there were few areas of aviation where he was not asked for his advice
  • Charles was fascinated by biology and set aside some time to work with dr carrell on attempting to grow organs and tissue outside of the hosts body and they made significant progress in the field
  • Lindbergh saw the future of rockets and found sponsorship for Goddard so that he could continue his research with the far fetched goal of eventually reaching the moon
  • Him and Anne went on another round the world trip with stops in Japan and China where their fame and fandom grew
  • Their baby was kidnapped when he was very young. It was a national ordeal and while they thought they were communicating and maki progress with the kidnappers, the babies body was found a couple months later, dead, just a couple miles from their home. Anne was distraught as was Charles but he never cried
  • President Roosevelt took away the commercial airlines rights to carry mail but soon returned it after the army lost dozens of pilots due to bad weather and inexperience. The relationship between Lindbergh and the president was ruined after that
  • Over two and a half years later the kidnapper was found – Bruno Richard Hauptmann, a German carpenter
  • The evidence against Hauptmann was so damning that even his own attorney started to let testimony go unchallenged. The trial was an absolute circus and people across the world were attuned to the “trial of the century”
  • Anne was forced to stifle her feelings because Charles would not tolerate a public showing of emotion – Anne wrote on her diary, “I must not talk. I must not cry…I must not dream.” Some of her later diary entries were so dark that Charles forced her to burn them
  • Trial was over after Linderghs testimony – “Jesus Christ himself was convinced this was the man who killed his baby”. Hauptmann was eventually convicted to death
  • Anne poured her energy into writing and managed to write several best sellers about her travels and Charles with dr carrel invented the artificial heart pump and was able to keep organs outside of the body without infection. He also wrote a book (Man, the Unknown) which knocked Anne’s (North to the Orient) off the best seller list
  • The media and other threats became so unbearable that Charles moved his family to England to try to get privacy and safety and some semblance of a normal life
  • Hauptmanns death was put on hold in order to investigate further but he was eventually sent to the chair on April 3, 1936. He never confessed and claimed his innocence to his death
  • Only 10 years after his voyage were commercial airplanes being built to make the same trip
  • Lindbergh accepted a trip to Germany to view their aviation situation and came away extremely impressed with not only the planes but the people and even Hitler himself who had done many good (but also bad) things to help the country as a whole
  • Was quite fascinated with the occult and spent some time in India to try to learn from yogis how they controlled their pulse and other phenomena
  • Lindbergh and carrell spoke of eugenics and of course this was bad timing with nazi Germany’s on the rise but it never seemed anything Lindbergh took too seriously. He accepted a medal from Germany right before Kristallnacht and this didn’t help his reputation either
  • Once the US officially joined the war Lindbergh had a tough time figuring out how to help because of his political stance and Nobody wanted to piss off the government. However, he soon found his place at Ford and later the Pacific front where he helped train pilots to use less fuel and therefore be able to fly further
  • As Lindbergh saw the true destruction in Europe he said, “when the value of life and the dignity of death are removed, what is left for man?”
  • On atomic bombs – “Thr old game boards on which international policy had theretofore been played had to be discarded, as those two blasts completely redefined all concepts of war and power, indeed the modern world itself”
  • He was very worried about Russia and the future of atomic wars. He changed his stance and now fully supported American intervention in international affairs
  • As flying became more modernized, Lindbergh lost his passion as it disconnected the pilot from most of the elements
  • He became increasingly interested in the environment as he grew older and spent a considerable amount of time in Africa
  • Helped advise the aviation industry for the rest of his life

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