The Winged Gospel

The Winged Gospel : America's Romance with Aviation, 1900-1950

3.83 (18 ratings by Goodreads)
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Reconstructs the early years of aviation and discusses famous and lesser-known aviators, ranging from Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart to Calbraith P. Rodgersshow more

Product details

  • Hardback | 188 pages
  • 157.48 x 162.56 x 22.86mm | 1,111.3g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • plates
  • 0195033566
  • 9780195033564

Review Text

A brief accounting of America's half-century airplane mania, and its symbolism - which mainly provides factual documentation for a few pretty obvious ideas. The foremost of these, iterated and reiterated, is the titular linkage of flying with the supernatural: "Like the Christian gospels, the gospel of aviation held out a glorious promise, that of a great new day in human affairs once airplanes brought about a true air age." Some people did utter words to this effect, which Corn quotes; such a belief was in keeping both with America's general "technological messianism' and late-19th-century preaching, as he notes. He has a suitable opening chapter on the growth of airmindedness (the record-setting, the barnstormers, H'wood), which climaxes with Lindbergh. The best thematic point, and the least routine material, concerns the persistent expectation of "an airplane in every garage" - the doomed attempts to this end; the demise of the "winged gospel," after World War II, when that dream faded. (Early on, Corn also observes that science and technology professionals pooh-poohed most of the prophecies.) Two other chapters on the dissemination of the wined gospel involve women and the young. In the first case, Corn reprises women's self-defeating role: given opportunities to fly to prove anyone could do it, they weren't wanted once that was proven. This is an old story, but Corn adds a feminist fillip - by "playing the mechanically inept female" (Anne Morrow Lindbergh), or ostentatiously applying make-up (Jacqueline Cochran), women helped to do themselves in. Apropos of the young, Corn recounts the model-plane craze and the lesser-known movement to teach aeronautics in the schools. Now and again, there's a slight lapse of reason: darts at the globally-minded postwar young who didn't speak foreign languages; pointing-with-significance at the Smithsonian's setting up a separate museum for aircraft and spacecraft. On the whole, though, this fulfills its limited intentions. (To see what can be done with such subject-matter, look to John Stilgoe on the railroads, below.) (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

18 ratings
3.83 out of 5 stars
5 28% (5)
4 28% (5)
3 44% (8)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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