Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Enduring Courage: Ace Pilot Eddie Rickenbacker and the Dawn of the Age of Speed

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

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.

Audie Award Finalist

EXCERPT

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...

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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.

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

“The dawn of the 20th century saw the advent of two world-changing technologies: automobiles and airplanes. With these came new breeds of risk takers and heroes—the racecar driver and the fighter pilot. Eddie Rickenbacker was both… Rickenbacker clearly had the "right stuff" for this brave new world. But what was the right stuff circa 1918? Biographer John F. Ross grapples with this and other questions in his new book… Many books have been written about Rickenbacker… Ross writes about many of the exploits described in those works, but he also mines primary sources, including thousands of pages of transcribed interviews with Rickenbacker, to get beneath what he calls "the veneer of untouchable hero.” —NationalGeographic.com

“In 1941, he suffered serious injuries and narrowly escaped death in a devastating aircraft crash near Atlanta. … Following his recovery, Rickenbacker was selected by Secretary of War Henry Stimson to transport and personally deliver a reprimand to General Douglas MacArthur, then supreme commander of the Southwest Pacific Area, headquartered in New Guinea…. The B-17D Flying Fortress ferrying Rickenbacker got lost in the Pacific and was forced to ditch at sea. Together with the rest of the crew, Rickenbacker spent 24 harrowing days adrift on a life raft without food or water. The story of his survival and rescue is the most gripping part of Enduring Courage. Nowadays, of course, … we don't have national heroes remotely like Eddie Rickenbacker.” —The Weekly Standard

“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

“[Eddie Rickenbacker's] life has been recounted in his own autobiographies and by many other authors, yet arguably none get the telling more right than John F. Ross in his exhaustively researched and exquisitely written biography, Enduring Courage.” —Air & Space Magazine

“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

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

From the Publisher

St. Martin's Press

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