Enduring Courage

Ace Pilot Eddie Rickenbacker and the Dawn of the Age of Speed

John F. Ross

St. Martin's Press

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The sensational true story of Eddie Rickenbacker, America's greatest flying ace

At the turn of the twentieth century two new technologies—the car and airplane—took the nation’s imagination by storm as they burst, like comets, into American life. The brave souls that leaped into these dangerous contraptions and pushed them to unexplored extremes became new American heroes: the race car driver and the flying ace.

No individual did more to create and intensify these raw new roles than the tall, gangly Eddie Rickenbacker, who defied death over and over with such courage and pluck that a generation of Americans came to know his face better than the president’s. The son of poor, German-speaking Swiss immigrants in Columbus, Ohio, Rickenbacker overcame the specter of his father’s violent death, a debilitating handicap, and, later, accusations of being a German spy, to become the American military ace of aces in World War I and a Medal of Honor recipient. He and his high-spirited, all-too-short-lived pilot comrades, created a new kind of aviation warfare, as they pushed their machines to the edge of destruction—and often over it—without parachutes, radios, or radar.

Enduring Courage is the electrifying story of the beginning of America’s love affair with speed—and how one man above all the rest showed a nation the way forward. No simple daredevil, he was an innovator on the racetrack, a skilled aerial dualist and squadron commander, and founder of Eastern Air Lines. Decades after his heroics against the Red Baron’s Flying Circus, he again showed a war-weary nation what it took to survive against nearly insurmountable odds when he and seven others endured a harrowing three-week ordeal adrift without food or water in the Pacific during World War II.

For the first time, Enduring Courage peels back the layers of hero to reveal the man himself. With impeccable research and a gripping narrative, John F. Ross tells the unforgettable story of a man who pushed the limits of speed, endurance and courage and emerged as an American legend.

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Book Excerpts

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1.
 
 
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
 
One warm day in 1905, a scrawny, towheaded fourteen-year-old raced down the sidewalk toward a crowd gathering at High and Broad streets in Columbus, Ohio, easily overtaking several horse-drawn wagons plodding along the brick-lined pavement, bells jingling on their reins. He dodged around customers exiting wide-awninged stores as a trolley hummed down the middle of High beneath a series of iron arches hung with still-novel electric lights.
Eddie Rickenbacher wriggled through the crowd to reach a glittering object that he would soon learn

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Reviews

Praise for Enduring Courage

"Energetic... Exciting... Ross sweeps readers along in Rickenbacker's thrilling tale." —Kirkus

"Entertaining… Ross peppers the text with quotes that place readers right alongside the ace through nearly every moment of his life. Obviously this is exciting material to work with—after all, Rickenbacker was a man who drove in the first Indy 500 and dueled with the Red Baron’s flying circus—but Ross is never fawning in this thoroughly enjoyable and downright rollicking read."

Booklist, starred review

"Ross has a knack for exciting, visual narrative, and the life-defining moments of race and dogfight... A highly entertaining portrait, which reveres its subject as a hero defined by his high-speed feats."

Publishers Weekly

"John Ross is that rare soul who writes narrative history with the verve and timing of an accomplished novelist. Enduring Courage—a heroic portrait of the aviator ace Eddie Rickenbacker of Ohio—is a bona fide page turner. The Indianapolis race car scenes and World War I dogfights ripple with excitement. I couldn't put it down."

—Douglas Brinkley, bestselling author, Professor of History at Rice University, and historian for CBS News

"Daring, beautiful, and masterfully told, Enduring Courage puts you shoulder-to-shoulder with one of the great American spirits of all-time, Eddie Rickenbacker, who does in each chapter what the rest of us dream to do with our lives."

—Robert Kurson, New York Times bestselling author of Shadow Divers

"Whether it’s the Indianapolis 500, a World War I dogfight, or a struggle for survival on a life raft in the Pacific, John Ross puts you there in the midst of the turbulent, often unbelievable life of Eddie Rickenbacker—the irascible, death-defying hero who helped set the dizzying pace of our modern, machine-driven age. As Ross says in the Introduction to Enduring Courage, ‘Hold onto your seats.’"

—Nathaniel Philbrick, New York Times bestselling author of In the Heart of the Sea and Bunker Hill

"To say Enduring Courage is inspiring is totally inadequate praise. It is also gripping, electrifying, insightful—and full of new information about a legendary American hero. I have seldom been so glad to read a book."

—Thomas Fleming, New York Times bestselling author of Conquerors of the Sky

"Before Charles Lindbergh, before Chuck Yeager, before Neil Armstrong, there was Eddie Rickenbacker, American aviation’s first mega-celebrity. In Enduring Courage, John F. Ross gives readers a brilliant and compelling biography of a man who led a remarkable life, illuminating as well a more innocent and hopeful period in American history, when the common man could make for himself a very uncommon future. This is an unforgettable treasure of a book."

—Dr. Richard P. Hallion, former U.S. Air Force Historian and author

"Richly detailed and dramatically told, Enduring Courage helps us perfectly understand how Eddie Rickenbacker became one of our greatest—if not THE greatest—aviation heroes of all time. Ross’s meticulous research skillfully guides this real-life tale to a magnificent, completely satisfying landing." —Christina Olds, bestselling author of Fighter Pilot

Reviews from Goodreads

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About the Author

John F. Ross

JOHN F. ROSS is the author of War on the Run: The Epic Story of Robert Rogers and the Conquest of America's First Frontier. Winner of the Fort Ticonderoga Prize for Contributions to American History, he has served as the Executive Editor of American Heritage and on the Board of Editors at Smithsonian magazine.

John F. Ross

© Scott Warren
John F. Ross

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Available Formats and Book Details

Enduring Courage
Ace Pilot Eddie Rickenbacker and the Dawn of the Age of Speed
John F. Ross

Hardcover

Hardcover
St. Martin's Press
5/13/2014
Hardcover
ISBN: 9781250033772
ISBN10: 1250033772
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches, 400 pages, Includes 4 maps plus one 16-page black-and-white photograph insert
$27.99

Unabridged Compact Disc

Unabridged  Compact Disc
Macmillan Audio
5/13/2014
Unabridged Compact Disc
ISBN: 9781427239235
ISBN10: 1427239231
Audio Run Time: 13:00
$39.99

Unabridged Digital Audio

Unabridged  Digital Audio
Macmillan Audio
5/13/2014
Unabridged Digital Audio
ISBN: 9781427239242
ISBN10: 142723924X
$23.99

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
5/13/2014
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781250033789
ISBN10: 1250033780
320 pages
$14.99
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