Lindbergh, His Competitors, and the Race to Cross the Atlantic
By Joe Jackson
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374106751, 544pp.
Publication Date: May 8, 2012
For five weeks--from April 14 to May 21, 1927--the world held its breath while fourteen aviators took to the air to capture the $25,000 prize that Raymond Orteig offered to the first man to cross the Atlantic Ocean without stopping.
Joe Jackson's "Atlantic Fever "is about this race, a milestone in American history whose story has never been fully told. Delving into the lives of the big-name competitors--the polar explorer Richard Byrd, the French war hero Rene Fonck, the millionaire Charles Levine, and the race's eventual winner, the enigmatic Charles Lindbergh--as well as those whose names have been forgotten by history (such as Bernt Balchen, Stanton Wooster, and Clarence Chamberlin), Jackson brings a completely fresh and original perspective to the race to conquer the Atlantic.
"Atlantic Fever "opens for us one of those magical windows onto a moment when the nexus of technology, innovation, character, and spirit led so many contenders from different parts of the world to be on the cusp of the exact same achievement at the exact same time.
“[Atlantic Fever is] a fantastically entertaining book.” —Matthew Price, The Boston Globe
“A soaring account of the first flight across the Atlantic . . . [Atlantic Fever is] engaging, suspenseful . . . [a] revelatory book.”—Daniel Dyer, Plain-Dealer (Cleveland)
“By retelling the story of Charles Lindbergh’s great ‘first’ alongside the nice and not-so-nice guys who finished last—from Admiral Byrd to Douglas ‘Wrong Way’ Corrigan—Joe Jackson gives us a book that is as suspenseful as it is thoughtful. Atlantic Fever is full of wonder at what it really means for human beings to fly, an achievement in which failure is not merely possible but even probable. Plainspoken and fast-paced, exhilarating and hilarious, Atlantic Fever reminds us why we are drawn to look skyward and why it is just as important to look out below.” —Scott A. Sandage, author of Born Losers: A History of Failure in America
“Lindbergh may have been portrayed as ‘Lindbergh Alone’ and the ‘Lone Eagle,’ but except for having no companion in the cockpit, he was far from that. Rather, he was one of a cast of players in what Joe Jackson calls ‘the aviator madness that rounded out the Jazz Age.’ In Atlantic Fever, Jackson brilliantly re-creates Lindbergh and the drama and tragedy that surrounded his feat.” —John Milton Cooper, Jr., author of Woodrow Wilson: A Biography
“With rich detail and a compelling story, Atlantic Fever recaptures the almost forgotten array of fliers and dreamers that accompanied Charles Lindbergh’s solitary crossing in The Spirit of St. Louis. The world of individual daring and aspiration that followed the devastation of World War One has never come more alive.” —Leo Braudy, author of The Frenzy of Renown: Fame and Its History
“[In Atlantic Fever] a talented storyteller re-creates the signature moment of aviation’s golden age . . . Throughout, [Joe Jackson] folds in unfailingly apt observations about the psychology of aviators, the peculiar mix of wealth and want that characterized the 1920s, the hunger for heroes, the role of chance and the turbocharging effect of mass media . . . With stirring detail and perceptive insight about the pilots and the public, Jackson recaptures the tone and tenor of a frantic era’s national obsession.” —Kirkus (starred review)
“[Atlantic Fever is] a penetrating evaluation of Lindbergh’s triumph set against the backdrop of the hero-worshipping Twenties. Painstaking researched, Jackson’s balanced work is a singular contribution to the history of flight in general and to Lindbergh historiography in particular.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“Jackson does aviation history an immense service by recalling the internationally representative group of fliers who competed in the race to cross the Atlantic. Along the way, he also details the scientific and technological advances that made this feverish aeronautical pursuit possible. Jackson’s breezy narrative style makes it easy to get swept up in Atlantic Fever.” —Margaret Flanagan, Booklist