Summary and book reviews of Enduring Courage by John Ross

Enduring Courage

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

by John F. Ross

Enduring Courage
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  • First Published:
    May 2014, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2015, 416 pages

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Book Summary

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.

1.
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

,p class="text">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 was a brand-new 10-horsepower Ford Model C, first of its kind in this midwestern city. He had never seen anything so beautiful. Its brass steering column hovered over an elegant black leather, horsehair-stuffed bench seat; its chassis rested upon large grayish wheels with yellow spokes, accented with mudguards resembling startled eyebrows. Often enough the boy had watched the earth-shaking steam behemoths of the ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

We forget the cost and sacrifice for so many things we rely on in our daily lives today and take for granted. Reading this historical account definitely makes one aware of that dangerous journey and those courageous men whose vision and guts brought us to this point...Author John Ross offers a thoroughly researched (from primary sources), engaging, well written biography about this memorable 20th century WWI ace pilot and aviation pioneer.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

Full Review Members Only (765 words).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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.

Booklist

Starred Review. 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.

Kirkus Reviews

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

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

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

Author Blurb Robert Kurson, New York Times bestselling author of Shadow Divers
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.

Author Blurb Thomas Fleming, New York Times bestselling author of Conquerors of the Sky
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.

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

Author Blurb Christina Olds, bestselling author of Fighter Pilot
Ross's meticulous research skillfully guides this real-life tale to a magnificent, completely satisfying landing.

Reader Reviews

Robert S. (Henderson, NV)

An Extrordinary Time, An Extrordinary Life
Author John Ross has written a compelling biography befitting of his heroic subject, Eddie Rickenbacker. Best known as the most celebrated World War I American flying ace, Rickenbacker was so much more, and Ross presents an engaging nuanced narrative...   Read More

Daniel A. (Naugatuck, CT)

Enduring Courage
This is one fascinating biography that was riveting and a page-turner. It is told in three parts: The most decorated WWI American fighter ace, Indy 500 race car winner in the early 1900's, and Eastern Airlines founder. I highly recommend this book ...   Read More

Jane N. (Little Egg Harbor, NJ)

Enduring Courage
This is with a doubt one of the easiest books that I have ever read. Ross knows his subject very well and is shines through! The narrative flows and is never dull or flat. I learned a lot about Eddie Rickenbacker in a most enjoyable way. For instance...   Read More

Sara F. (Riverbank, CA)

Good Story Well Written
I have a memory of, as a child in the early 50's, going with my family to our local airport because Eddie Rickenbacker was coming to town on Eastern Airlines business and we might get to see him. Well, we did see him stepping down from the plane. ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Eddie Rickenbacker

Ace pilot and race car driver, automotive designer and aviation pioneer, Eddie Rickenbacker was America's most successful aerial fighter in World War I. In addition to the official recognition and many awards he received for those achievements, he also wrote a comic strip, and enjoyed accolades from popular culture:

Ace DrummondAce Drummond was an aviation comic strip, written by Eddie Rickenbacker and illustrated by Clayton Knight, an aviation author and illustrator - click the image to see a larger version. (Clayton's daughter, Hilary Knight, illustrated Kay Thompson's Eloise children's book series among other books.) The comic strip centered on Ace Drummond and told of his adventures around the world as he used his barn pilot skills to defeat ...

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