Enduring Courage by John F. Ross

Enduring Courage, Ace Pilot Eddie Rickenbacker and the Dawn of the Age of Speed by John F. Ross; 2014; $27.99; 375 pages; St. Martin’s Press, New York, NY; 978-1-250-03377-2; purchased from Multnomah County Library, Title Wave Used Bookstore; 9/2/17-9/7/17

Why did I read this?  Because Eddie Rickenbacker was one of my first heroes growing up and I think was the first autobiography I ever read.

This is sort of a semi biography covering three main times in Mr. Rickenbacker.  First is Eddie’s interest in cars and his career as a race car driver, then his time in World War I as a pilot and the Ace of Aces and thirdly the time he was on a secret mission for the President and his plane crash landed in the Pacific and he was adrift in a raft for 24 days before being rescued.  The times between these events is covered lightly as is his early childhood and later life.  By focusing on these three time periods I found out more about Eddie than I had previously known.

Grade A

Wheat, Wobblies, War and A Woman

desert of wheat

The Desert of Wheat by Zane Grey; 1919; 390 pages; Dodo Press, Gloucestshire, United Kingdom; purchased from Multnomah County Library Title Wave Used Bookstore; 5/9/15-5/13/15

During World War I the dilemma for young Kurt Dorn is would he supporting his country, the U.S.A., by fighting in the trenches of Europe or raising wheat to keep the troops and country fed.  He has to contend with his German father, who dislikes the US; with the International Workers of the World, who are trying to unionize everyone and a woman that he thinks is above him.  The union seems to be using some scare tactics to prevent the employers from ignoring them, going so far as to destroy crops and targeting people for beatings and death.  He loves the woman but she is from a rich family and he is not so he keeps putting roadblocks in his own way.  He confronts all his fears and goes to war and comes back grievously wounded but still able to farm and he is still loved.

Grade-B

Did I enjoy it?  Most of it.  Some of it seemed to be straight out of a textbook on wheat growing and some of it was standard anti union rhetoric.

What is with the title of the review?  Set in Eastern Washington, the story centers around a wheat grower during World War I,  he has to deal with the International Workers of the World (known as Wobblies) and there is a romance with the daughter of a rich wheat farmer.

Why did I pick this up?  Because I like Zane Grey’s stories of the old West and its conflicts with the future.

 

He did so much

Rickenbacker by Edward V. Rickenbacker; 1967; 458 pages; Prentice-Hall, Inc; Edgewood, NJ; purchased from Multnomah County Title Wave Used Bookstore; 7/2/14-7/8/14

I remember going into a bookstore in Oakland, CA shortly after I reported aboard the U.S.S. Kansas City (AOR-3) in early 1976 and buying this book because I had heard so much about Eddie Rickenbacker growing up.  One of the first “adult” books I remember reading is We Thought We Heard the Angels Sing by Lt. James C. Whitaker about being adrift in the Pacific for 24 days with Eddie Rickenbacker during WWII.

This came through the Title Wave last year and I picked it up, it took me a year to actually get around to reading it.  Eddie Rickenbacker was born in 1890 and dropped out of school in 7th grade when his father died.  He worked in a glass factory and other labor intensive jobs before getting a job as an auto mechanic in his hometown, just as automobiles began to gain popularity.  He then went on to become a race car driver, racing at the first Indianapolis Speedway race, he eventually also started his own automobile manufacturing company.  He taught himself to fly and became an Ace in WWI, he was also an aircraft mechanic and parlayed those two things into becoming president of Eastern Airlines, which he grew into a thriving enterprise.  During WWII he served as a special messenger from Secretary of War Stimson, Eddie and FDR did not like each other, he went behind Russian lines, all over  Europe and into the Pacific, which how he ended up adrift in the Pacific.

He was truly an incredible man who pushed himself but didn’t ask anyone to do what he wouldn’t do himself.  He got to know all the employees of what ever company he was head of and asked and carefully considered input from all levels of his company.

Did I like it?  Yes, once again I was impressed with the strength and resilience of Eddie Rickenbacker.  He went through trials, an airplane crash in Atlanta that broke most of the bones in his body and being adrift in the Pacific for 24 days, but always seemed to bounce back stronger and more sure of himself.

Grade-A

What is with the title of the review?  Eddie Rickenbacker did more in his lifetime than many people would manage in several lifetimes.