THE LAST HERO by Walter S. Ross


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Cynics have suggested that heroes like Lindbergh or romantic figures like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor would serve their legends best by dying young. Just past the peak of their greatest appeal. Lindbergh has lived stubbornly, silently since his pioneer flight across the Atlantic, still magnetizing the publicity he shuns. This is the latest biography and perhaps it indicates the present degree of the pendulum of opinion. In Lindbergh's case its swing has gone from idiot approbation in the '20's to violent condemnation in the early '40's. Mr. Ross has provided an adulatory biography which carries some of the least attractive elements of juvenile biographies, wherein the author works overtime to patch the pits in the pedestals of monuments to public service by invading the subject's mind (""This flying was serious business Lindbergh thought"") and scrubbing up the hero by splattering another's image. Take this example of propaganda technique on Lindbergh's eager fronting for the racist/isolationist America First groups before WWII: ""Roosevelt did not like to be wrong or seem wrong. He hated people who made him look wrong in public. Therefore he hated Lindbergh--and he never forgot his hatred or forgave Lindbergh, as later events proved."" Thus is the reduced image to be restored. ""One cannot avoid the conclusion, on balancing the evidence, that Roosevelt purposely built Lindbergh up as a pro-Nazi so he could break him."" Nonsense. It's one of the most easily avoidable conclusions in a recent adult book. All in simple sentences to persuade the simpleminded. But Lindbergh is a complex man capable of compelling respect, requiring no cosmetic biographies during his lifetime but a more thoughtful analysis, like the one in K.S. Davis' now out-of-print but widely collected The Hero (1960).

Pub Date: Feb. 14th, 1967
Publisher: Harper & Row