Review of The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh

The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh
by Candace Fleming
Middle School, High School    Schwartz & Wade/Random    364 pp.    g
2/20    978-0-525-64654-9    $18.99
Library ed.  978-0-525-64655-6    $21.99
e-book ed.  978-0-525-64656-3    $10.99

Stitching together important life events, insightful anecdotes, and primary sources, Fleming (Amelia Lost, rev. 3/11; The Family Romanov, rev. 7/14) creates a cohesive and comprehensive biography of a charismatic, flawed figure. Charles Lindbergh made history with his 1927 solo transatlantic flight from New York City to Paris, and the resulting fame kept him in the public eye for the rest of his life. Notoriously, Lindbergh and his wife were victims of the “Crime of the Century,” when their infant son was kidnapped and murdered. Fleming examines the forces that shaped Lindbergh, from his early childhood to his extraordinary work ethic to his keen appreciation of all things scientific and mechanical. But there was a dark side to Lindbergh, too. From an early age he considered himself a “superior specimen,” physically and genetically; chose friends out of expediency; lived a life ruled by exacting checklists. His marriage was marred by sexism, misogyny, narcissism, and adultery, while his political views were even worse: a Nazi sympathizer, he unapologetically espoused racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy. Fleming employs a deft hand here: she doesn’t draw contemporary parallels, but they will be easy enough for young readers to see (especially in the prologue, which describes a 1941 America First rally virtually indistinguishable from a Trump rally). It’s not easy to write the biography of a person who elicits, by turns, admiration, sympathy, and revulsion, but Fleming has accomplished this juggling act, and in doing so, she has created a historical narrative that couldn’t feel more contemporary. A bibliography, source notes, and an index are appended; a twenty-four-page section of black-and-white photographs is inserted in the center.

From the January/February 2020 Horn Book Magazine.

Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the coordinator of library media services at the San Diego County Office of Education.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Emily Schneider

How can it be that a review of a Lindbergh biography fails to use the term “antisemitism?” Instead, you refer to his generic racism and xenophobia, his sexism, and white supremacy. Omitting this central part of Lindbergh’s life, of the man who, in his infamous Des Moines speech and on many other occasions specifically pointed to Jews as the causes of the world’s problems, is inexplicable. Could you imagine a similarly cautious review of a book about an infamous racist whose target was principally any other group besides Jews, calling its subject admirable and charismatic? I’m sure this book has some valuable material, but I am disturbed by this troubling avoidance of the truth. Lindbergh was one of the most notorious antisemites in modern American history, right at the time when such views would result in the destruction of Europe’s Jews.

Posted : Jan 31, 2020 02:56


RELATED 

Stay Connected. Join our devoted community of librarians, educators, and parents in the world of children’s and young adult literature.