- The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh by Candace Fleming
Fleming, Candace The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh. Schwartz & Wade, 2020 [384p] illus. with photographs Library ed. ISBN 978-0-525-64655-6 $21.99 Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-525-64654-9 $18.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-525-64656-3 $10.99 Reviewed from galleys R* Gr. 7-12
The shining, sympathetic legend of Charles Lindbergh has a tenacious grip in public imagination: the handsome boy-next-door aviator whose 1927 New York to Paris solo flight established the United States as an aeronautic force to be reckoned with; the grieving father whose toddler son was kidnapped from his bed and later found dead. These threads continue to dominate the Lindbergh saga, but contemporaries witnessed a darker side as well, as the all-American hero openly sympathized with Nazism, became something of an unwitting dupe in a German disinformation campaign, and rallied a rabid fan base of America First isolationists drawn as much from white supremacy as pacifist movements. In this smoothly written, even-handed biography, Fleming deftly conveys how Lindbergh's interest in aviation overlapped with an interest in medical technology and efforts to extend life through organ life support, which in turn connected him with eugenicist Alexis Carrel. Under Carrel's influence, Lindbergh's own philosophy of human perfectibility burgeoned, and it wasn't much of a leap for him to articulate hope for a future in which "superior" Aryan whites (like himself) would exceed current life spans and rule the masses in a political system based on scientific reason (like Hitler's Germany purported to be). While never justifying Lindbergh's fascist leanings, Fleming contextualizes his rise and fall from public grace within a zeitgeist of technological promise, expanding media frenzy, economic depression, and global political upheaval that enabled a celebrity to become spokesperson for fringe causes. An extensive bibliography and source notes are included, as well as a section of period photographs.