LOSS OF EDEN by Joyce Milton


A Biography of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh
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 This judiciously empathic biography from Milton (The Yellow Kids, 1989), with its dazzling breadth of research, is the keystone of this season's Lindbergh-centered publications: Dorothy Herrmann's fine portrait of Anne Morrow Lindbergh (p. 1234); and Reeve Lindbergh's fictional familial tribute, The Names of the Mountains, (p. 1208), plus her poems and photos, in View from the Air (p. 1140), for the juvenile shelf. Born to bright, restless, emotionally incompatible parents (Charles's father, a Minnesota congressman and a Populist, opposed intervention in WW I), Charles was indulged yet isolated (he felt he had ``little in common'' with his peers.) As a young man, he fled regimented college education for the uncommon freedom of the sky--barnstorming at fairs, etc., in aviation's infancy, and performing hero turns while applying his engineering genius. Lindbergh's contributions to aviation are towering, beginning with the 1927 flight to Paris (at one point his plane was a mere 50 feet above sea level) and through the years continuing with the survey flights through uncharted skies, when he lay the groundwork for commercial routes. Often wife Anne was ``crew.'' (Milton views Anne from a cooler distance than does Herrmann, but she also pays tribute to Anne's courage, strength, and talent.) Milton's chronology of the tragic kidnapping of baby Charles, Jr., the trial, the ordeal by the press, the police work, and a few seedy rounds in the dark life of Bruno Richard Hauptmann (executed for the crime in 1922) is completely riveting. (Milton is convinced of Hauptmann's guilt but adds some tantalizing new speculations.) In the turbulent years following the tragedy--the flights, moves, family, Charles's work with Alexis Carrel in surgical technology, and Anne's publications--Charles developed a paranoid hatred of the pursuing press and, perhaps, of democracy's ``freedom'' that allowed it. Milton suggests that Charles's early attraction to Nazi Germany ``spoke to a reservoir of rage within himself,'' and possibly to a pull to his father's antiestablishment roots. Lively, richly informative, deeply satisfying--a staple in Lindbergh studies. (Photos.)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-06-016503-0
Page count: 528pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1992