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Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies by Lawrence GoldstoneBirdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies

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I had an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Here's the link (subscription required):
The Wall Street Journal
And, even better, Joe Nocera devoted a column to Birdmen in the New York Times. Flattered doesn't begin to describe how I feel about that. Here's that link:
NY Times


“A meticulously researched account of the first few hectic, tangled years of aviation and the curious characters who pursued it... a worthy companion to Richard Holmes’s marvelous history of ballooning, Falling Upwards.”
Time (One of the Best Books of the Year…So Far)

“The daredevil scientists and engineers who forged the field of aeronautics spring vividly to life in Lawrence Goldstone’s history.”

“The history of the development of an integral part of the modern world and a fascinating portrayal of how a group of men and women achieved a dream that had captivated humanity for centuries.”
The Christian Science Monitor

“[A] vivid story of invention, vendettas, derring-do, media hype and patent fights [with] modern resonance.”
Financial Times

"Goldstone's Birdmen is The Right Stuff of aviation's pre-World War I era.”
USA Today

"Goldstone delivers a riveting narrative...a well-written, thoroughly researched work that is sure to compel readers interested in history, aviation and invention.  Raises questions of enduring importance regarding innovation and the indefinite exertion of control over ideas that go public." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A superbly crafted retelling of a story familiar to aviation buffs, here greatly strengthened by fresh perspectives, rigorous analyses, comprehensible science, and a driving narrative."
Library Journal (starred review)

And, hey, even Kirkus liked it: "A powerful story that contrasts soaring hopes with the anchors of ego and courtroom."

The publisher writes... and Publishers Weekly really did call me "acclaimed." Pretty considerate of them, I thought:

From acclaimed historian Lawrence Goldstone comes a thrilling narrative of courage, determination, and competition: the story of the intense rivalry that fueled the rise of American aviation.

The feud between this nation’s great air pioneers, the Wright Brothers and Glenn Curtiss, was a collision of unyielding and profoundly American personalities. On one side: a pair of tenacious siblings who together had solved the centuries-old riddle of powered, heavier-than-air flight. On the other: an audacious motorcycle racer whose innovative aircraft became synonymous in the public mind with death-defying stunts. For more than a decade, they battled each other in court, at air shows, and in the newspapers. At issue was more than the profits from a patent, but control of the means of innovation in a new age of industrial change. The outcome of this contest of wills would shape the course of aviation history—and take a fearsome toll on the men involved.

Birdmen sets the engrossing story of the Wrights’ war on Curtiss against the thrilling backdrop of the early years of manned flight, and is rich with period detail and larger-than-life personalities: Thomas Scott Baldwin, or “Cap’t Tom” as he styled himself, who invented the parachute and almost convinced the world that balloons were the future of aviation; John Moisant, the dapper daredevil who took to the skies after three failed attempts to overthrow the government of El Salvador, then quickly emerged as a celebrity flyer; and Harriet Quimby, the statuesque silent film beauty who became the first woman to fly across the English Channel. And then there is Lincoln Beachey, perhaps the greatest aviator who ever lived, who dazzled crowds with an array of trademark twists and dives—and best embodied the romance with death that fueled so many of aviation’s earliest heroes.

A dramatic story of unimaginable bravery in the air and brutal competition on the ground, Birdmen is at once a thrill ride through flight’s wild early years and a surprising look at the personal clash that fueled America’s race to the skies.

And here are the quotes.  (Would I lie?):

"Birdmen is so much more than the story of man's leap into the clouds. Exhilarating, exasperating and inspiring in equal measure, the Wright brothers are a parable for modern times, told in fascinating detail and gripping prose by Lawrence Goldstone." 
Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire

"Goldstone provides a fresh, engaging and compelling narrative that significantly enhances our understanding of one of the most remarkable stories in American history. He expertly documents the achievements and frailties of the Wright Brothers as they pursued manned flight and attempted to profit from their breakthrough ideas. This well-written book is a pleasure to read."
Tom Nicholas, William J. Abernathy Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

"Lawrence Goldstone offers a beautifully written and thoroughly researched account of the dawn of powered flight. It's a great story of technical innovation, fierce competition, and powerful personalities. Goldstone provides a vibrant narrative of the Wright Brothers battling Glenn Curtiss over government contracts, patents, and prizes, and describes issues pertinent to today's business professionals and military personnel alike."
Colonel John Abbatiello, PhD, USAF (Retired), author of Anti-Submarine Warfare in World War I: British Naval Aviation and the Defeat of the U-Boats

"The history of human flight goes way beyond the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk. Lawrence Goldstone skillfully tells the rest of the story about the dreamers history has forgotten, and it’s a helluva story superbly told. Birdmen is a wondrous journey from take-off to landing.”  
–Bill Griffeth, author of By Faith Alone

"Meticulously researched and illuminating, Birdmen unveils the forgotten flyboys who gave America an invention to win wars, spread peace, and advance her destiny—air power."
Adam Makos, internationally bestselling author of A Higher Call

"Lawrence Goldstone has done it again! With riveting prose, rich research, and an uncommon talent for weaving heroic and tragic tales of complex persons with accounts of invention and institutions, this exhilarating book reveals the human dimensions of the birth of modern times. Terrific stuff."
Ira Katznelson, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, Columbia University, author of Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time

"The first aviators took to the skies with amazing courage and ingenuity, but, it turns out, also fighting like warbirds. None of these dogfights was was more epic and vital to flying's future than the one waged by Wilbur Wright and Glenn Curtiss. Beautifully told, Goldstone's book gives full vent to the action, while in the process weaving a compelling and sophisticated narrative of aviation’s earliest days."
Robert O'Connell, author of The Ghosts of Cannae


Murtro's Niche by Lawrence GoldstoneHere's my fiction. It's only available electronically on Amazon. That's right—self-published. Funny thing about this novel. Everyone in the business thought it was quite good, but no one would put it out. Not commercial enough, whatever that means. I thought maybe I should put a vampire in it, but the only blood sucking is by the investment banker. All those comparisons on the bottom are accurate, however, and none of them were coined by me. Mostly, I thought it was an important subject and an entertaining read, so I'm vaulting into the new era and giving readers a chance to decide. And, for only $2.99, how big a risk are you taking?

So… from the book description:

A piercing look at the fates of ordinary people in a company town when the company pulls up stakes.

Gordie Murtro had always played by the rules. He got a job right out of high school, worked hard to improve himself, got married, had kids, and saved enough to finally buy a house. To him, the American dream was more the American bargain—live honorably and the system would grant you a secure and peaceful future. But a bargain must have two participants and in western Massachusetts in 1990, Beloit Industries, the town's largest employer, struck a bargain only with its stock price. When Beloit decides to outsource thousands of jobs to save on labor costs, Gordie is cut adrift. As he struggles to find work, any work, in a job market that seems to shrink by the day, Gordie is forced to confront not only unemployment, but also the destruction of the values on which he has based his entire life.

The impact of the cutbacks radiates far beyond the factory doors. Caught in the whirlpool are everyone from Gordie's wife and children, to a mayor elected to deal only with prosperity, to the investment banker who made millions on Beloit's move, to the warehouse retailer who comes to town to pick the bones of consumers who can no longer afford to patronize the shops they grew up in. As a once-pulsating, picture-book American city sinks into despair, its only hero is the mysterious thief who is burglarizing the wealthy second-home owners who populate the surrounding villages. When the victim is a glamorous actress, Gordie's son is accused and must prove his innocence in a trial in which the very soul of the city is on trial.

Written with compassion and biting wit, Murtro's Niche has been compared to the work of Richard Russo, Russell Banks, and Tawni O'Dell.


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