Critical Doer Book Review: The Wright Brothers

A Critical Doer works as hard to develop strength of character as strength of talent 

A Critical Doer is committed to thinking and acting


Historian David McCullough (John Adams, 1776, Truman) recently released a book that could be one of his finest works.  The Wright Brothers (Simon and Schuster, 2015) is a phenomenal look at not just Wilbur and Orville Wright, but the entire Wright family with special emphasis on their sister Katherine Wright…and how they changed the course of history through powered flight.

Wright Brothers

McCullough draws largely upon personal letters, other first person artifacts, and news publications for the body of his research.  In doing so, McCullough proved that history is far more than names and dates.  The value of history is learning why things happened, discovering the humanity of ordinary people who acted in extraordinary ways when circumstances demanded, and in doing so help us believe each of us has something extraordinary to offer as a lasting gift to all of mankind.

If anyone believes the icons of history are immune from the personal struggles that plague us all, you’ll find McCullough’s work refreshing.  The Wrights were no more removed from the circumstances of life than you or I.  Through sickness, failures, rejection, doubt, criticism, and lack of resources the Wrights were faced with the same decision we all make on a near daily basis…quit or persevere.  The Wright’s story is yet another testament that the world is changed more often than not by those who simply refuse to quit when common sense and common consensus would paint carrying on as foolish.

Another important takeaway from the book is the power of reading.  Bishop Milton and Susan Wright taught their children to be lifelong learners; Wilbur and Orville’s breakthrough was largely a result of it.  McCullough describes Wilbur’s first fascination with flight and how he obtained everything printed he could possibly find to learn all there was to know.  He also dedicated himself to studying birds as he logged thousands of hours watching their movements to discover how to replicate their ability to fly in a machine.

Critical Doers, I encourage you to get a copy of The Wright Brothers and add it to your body of knowledge on thinking and doing.  You’ll find yourself more hopeful in discovering this truth in the story of the Wright family…greatness is a product of diligence far more often than brilliance.  For Wilbur and Orville, their strength was about belief in themselves…let it be the same with you.  It’s what a Critical Doer would…do!


Additional reading:  review previous Critical Doer post “Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right, But Two Wrights Make An Airplane”



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Updated: May 31, 2015 — 1:39 pm