ENDURING COURAGE                                   EDDIE RICKENBACKER
Posted:  June 20, 2014

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

I had first heard about Eddie Rickenbacher when I was a youngster going around with my grandfather to his VFW meetings or gatherings, he had fought in World War One so as a young boy I remember reading a small book about his time flying in the war and a plane crash. I also remember a movie about his life but all I remember is the plane crash. This book goes into much greater detail about his life. Starting with his home life which really was awful, but he didn’t know any better until he got a little older and by then he was doing his best in school and trying to stay away from his father who beat him when he came home drunk, which was quite often. Then when Eddie was about 13 his father was killed and he quit school and got a job, sweeping up in a factory. A few days later they were looking for someone to take over for a guy who failed to show for work and Eddie steeped right in. they were making spokes for bicycles and by the third day he had already made a template so he could make more or them per day but also caught down on the time of having to repeat each step. He not only got a raise but in a short time he was the Forman of the flour. The truant officers turned their heads the other way because they knew how much the family was struggling and Eddie’s older brother could not find work, so it was up to him to keep the family going. From there he finds a job that is at night sweeping a garage but in the garage are some automobiles that he has been looking at for a while and even drove one. This would be the job that would lead him into becoming a mechanic for a race car driver and then him himself as the driver of a race car. There is a large section of this book about his racing, the cars he drove, and the men he met and competed against. I was also surprised that he raced in Corona CA. since I lived there and that a fellow driver he knew was killed in a crash there. Most of the racing back then was road courses, until the Indy race which he competed in 4 times, never winning. Around this same time he became fascinated with flying and like with cars managed to talk his way into a flight, he was hooked from the moment he took off until landing. One thing I did not know was that the planes from that area and past WWI did not have brakes so they had to look for a long field shut off motor when getting close to landing and shut down the fuel to the engine. To me it seemed harder to land than to take off. The next part of the book deals with his time in the military. He was able to get an officers commission because he was the driver for General Pershing staff when they went to France for a fact finding tour of what was needed by the United States. His rank was Sargent, but then one afternoon there car broke down and they needed to get out of the area before dark and he fixed the car. From that moment on he was looked upon differently. When they got back to the States he was given the rank of LT. and assigned to the first air squadron. They really wanted him to work the planes which he did but he also wanted to fly. So in the morning he fixed the planes and in the evening he did his required flying and book learning. When they sent to France it turned out he was the only one that was ready to fly but they would not let him because they thought he was more valuable working on keeping the planes motors. Like everywhere else in his life he was again dealing with prejudice because he did not graduate from Harvard, Yale or any college for that matter. When they did finally let him fly they found out that not only could he fly but he could lead and took care of all of the pilots in his group. He would engage the Germans but he always had a plan and it seemed that he liked to form his group so they would be attacking out of the sun, so the sun would be at their back. He did lose some friends and he did miss some flying time because of illness. After the war he finally got married and started working with an airline, from there he would own the airline and after a short time the air line went out of business. The business filed for bankruptcy but he did not personally. He ended up paying off everyone that he owed, he said “I had do it because they put their faith in Me.” after this he ended up back in business and during WWII was when he was involved in a plane crash where they were at sea for three weeks only one man passed away. This book is filled with so much information that I hope people take the time to read about someone who is not talked about any more. This is a very well written book and I am glad I was able to read it. I got this book from net galley.

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