OVERRIDE

Enduring Courage: Ace Pilot Eddie Rickenbacker and the Dawn of the Age of Speed

John F. Ross

St. Martin's Press

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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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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  • John F. Ross, author of Enduring Courage, on The Early Days of Aviation

    What was it like to soar at 10,000 feet with an open cockpit while worrying about having to engage enemy planes? John F. Ross shares a story of what it was like for pilots during the early days of aviation from his new book, Enduring Courage: Ace Pilot Eddie Rickenbacker and the Dawn of the Age of Speed.

  • John F. Ross, author of Enduring Courage, on The Early Days of Automobile Racing

    The cars of today are a far cry from what they were more than a century ago. John F. Ross shares a story of Eddie Rickenbacker's racing days and the early days of the automobile from his new book, Enduring Courage: Ace Pilot Eddie Rickenbacker and the Dawn of the Age of Speed.

  • John F. Ross, author of Enduring Courage, on The Dawn of the Age of Speed

    Early in the twentieth century, two new American super figures—the racecar driver and the flying ace—would become the embodiment of American skilled manhood, and no individual did more to create and intensify these new roles than Eddie Rickenbacker. Enduring Courage: Ace Pilot Eddie Rickenbacker and the Dawn of the Age of Speed by John F. Ross, available in bookstores everywhere.

  • John F. Ross, author of Enduring Courage, on The Terrible Choice Faced by Early Pilots

    Early in the twentieth century, two new American super figures—the racecar driver and the flying ace—would become the embodiment of American skilled manhood, and no individual did more to create and intensify these new roles than Eddie Rickenbacker. John F. Ross shares the terrible choice faced by early aviators from his new book, Enduring Courage: Ace Pilot Eddie Rickenbacker and the Dawn of the Age of Speed, available in bookstores everywhere.

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REVIEWS

Praise for Enduring Courage: Ace Pilot Eddie Rickenbacker and the Dawn of the Age of Speed

"Fast-paced...With just the right amount of technical detail, Mr. Ross evocatively captures the excitement of the racetrack, where the driver had to contend with 'gumbo'-thick clouds of dust and gravel thrown up by the wheels... Mr. Ross's book does an excellent job portraying how the reality of air combat differed from the romantic notions, advanced at the time, of a noble contest between modern knights in the sky." — Wall Street Journal

"Ross is at his best when he writes about Rickenbacker grappling with risk and adversity...the book is a riveting account of the dawn of the age of speed." — Dallas Morning News

"A brisk and informing read... [Ross'] engaging new book, surveying the risky realms of racing and air wars, reminds the reader how fast the world changes — and how much remains the same... Rickenbacker’s life provides ample grist for thrilling narrative (and gruesome detail). Yet serving the good purposes of history, Mr. Ross artfully strikes resonances between eras...Portraying the ultimate daredevil in an age of daredevilry, Mr. Ross wrings out as much excitement as the material holds in describing Rickenbacker’s violent worlds." — Washington Times

"[A] lively and engaging portrait of Rickenbacker...Ross has a real gift for sitting the reader beside “Fast Eddie” as he thunders down the straightaway of a 1913 racetrack or leans forward in the cockpit of a Nieuport 28 climbing toward a flight of Fokkers...an admiring biography...Enduing Courage offers a compelling portrait of an American hero" - Tom Crouch, Washington Independent Review Of Books

"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

“A lively and engaging portrait of Rickenbacker....a compelling portrait of an American hero.” - Washington Independent Review of Books

"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
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    Enduring Courage: Ace Pilot Eddie Rickenbacker and the Dawn of the Age of Speed

    John F. Ross

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    St. Martin's Press

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