Wings of Madness: Alberto Santos-Dumont and the Invention of Flight

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Hyperion Books, Jun 16, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 384 pages
Now in paperback, an "unforgettably good book [told] with compassion and sympathy" (Simon Winchester, New York Times) about an eccentric aviator and the thrilling early days of flight.

From Paul Hoffman, the acclaimed author of The Man Who Loved Only Numbers, comes this engaging true story of the man who was once hailed worldwide as the conqueror of the air--Alberto Santos-Dumont. Because the Wright brothers worked in secrecy, word of their first flights had not reached Europe when Santos-Dumont took to the skies in 1906. The dashing and impeccably dressed aeronaut stunned and delighted Paris, barhopping around the city in a one-man dirigible he invented, circling above crowds and crashing into rooftops.

Yet Santos-Dumont was a frenzied genius tortured by the weight of his own creation. Wings of Madness is a riveting, brilliantly told story of this tormented man who helped to usher in the modern age and who epitomized the increasingly tortured spirit of the twentieth century--it is elegant, fascinating, and deeply moving.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - melydia - LibraryThing

The title is somewhat misleading: this book covers Santos-Dumont's early experiments with powered balloons and airplanes, but skips from 1906 to 1932, the years where he supposedly went mad with guilt ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ten_floors_up - LibraryThing

An interesting read, if not a page-turner: Hoffman's style is pretty dry. I knew of Santos-Dumont from a childhood obsession with anything to do with planes and flight, but not very much. I think ... Read full review

About the author (2004)

Paul Hoffman was president of Encyclopedia Britannica and editor-in-chief of Discover. and is the author of The Man Who Loved Only Numbers and The Wings of Madness. He is the winner of the first National Magazine Award for Feature Writing, and his work has appeared in the New Yorker, Time, and Atlantic Monthly. He lives in Woodstock, NY.

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