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“The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough Essay

Purpose of the Book

The selected text for this analysis is titled “The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough. The author is a celebrated author, historian, narrator, and lecturer. His other masterpieces include biographers of famous people such as John Adams and Harry S. Truman. Such achievements make him a master of the subject. The book was published by Simon & Schuster in October 2016. The purpose of this critical analysis is to explore the author’s description of the targeted characters in the book. The discussion goes further to describe the unique book’s strengths that make it an important source of information regarding the achievements of Wilbur and Orville (McCullough, 2016).

Thesis Statement: Using quality sources and letters, McCullough gives a detailed biography that portrays the Wright brothers as hardworking, courageous, and outstanding men whose ceaseless curiosity led to one of the most astounding inventions by mankind.

Topic and Emphasis

The biography by McCullough focuses on a unique topic that has not been explored by past researchers. The book seems to argue that the Wright brothers were committed individuals who used the best ideas in an attempt to realize their goals. Despite the lack of adequate resources and quality education, their father was always a source of inspiration. He always encouraged them to be intelligent, humble, spiritual, and disciplined in an attempt to achieve their potential (McCullough, 2016). The emphasis of the book is that the brothers were always determined, focused, and intelligent. Throughout their lives, the individuals worked hard in an attempt to improve their aircraft design.

Book Summary

McCullough’s biography begins by describing the early life and family of the two brothers. According to the biographer, the family emphasized specific values such as diligence, simplicity, determination, and hard work. Such principles would guide and support their future goals. The Wright brothers’ father was a bishop who guided and empowered them every single day. The author writes that the father “had acquired inexhaustible supply of advice on behavior, habits good and bad, and goals to strive for” (McCullough, 2016). The brothers’ sister, Katharine, encouraged them throughout the period.

The second part of the text gives a detailed analysis of the experiments conducted by the two pioneers. The challenges facing their project emerged from lack of resources and unbearable weather conditions. They began their experimentations with gliders and eventually used powered motors. A new beginning in “the industry would be recorded on 17th December 1903” (McCullough, 2016, p. 11). The author indicates that “the brothers possessed much courage that made the best of them come true” (McCullough, 2016, p. 12).

Critical Analysis

This book cannot be compared with any other book on the subject matter. This is the case because the author has presented numerous insights that have been missed by past biographers. The author has gone further to examine the upbringing, achievements, and experiences of the Wright brothers (Heard, 2016). The above summary also shows conclusively that the story has been narrated persuasively. This approach makes the book an informative source for many people.

Additionally, the biography has challenged me intellectually. The courage, zeal, and confidence in the brothers played a powerful role towards supporting their goals. The importance of a family in every person’s life is repeated severally in the book. When people have true friends and relatives, they can definitely realize their goals and emerge successful (McCullough, 2016). This practice fosters collaboration, encouragement, and support. I will always embrace these new thoughts and make them part of my personal development plan.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The other important issue to consider is the manner in which the author has narrated the targeted story. The biographer holds a steady course throughout the text. The childhood, teenage, and adult lives of the brothers is narrated in a chronological manner. The roles played by different members of the family are narrated in a proper manner. The choice of words, presentation of primary documents, and use of quality images in the book makes it interesting to read. The evidences and sources enhanced my understanding of the topic (Karsh & Fox, 2014). The narration is therefore useful because it has encouraged me to reconsider my limited understanding of the achievements of these pioneers of modern aviation.

The selected book is an autobiography detailing the lives of the Wright brothers. The author has used adequate photographs and illustrations to support the intended message. The book is appropriate for many scholars in aviation history because it is characterized by enough references and sources (McCullough, 2016). The only weakness is that the author offers a shallow analysis of every brother’s childhood. For instance, the reader finds it hard to understand their childhood relationships with different members of the family.

Concluding Remarks

In conclusion, David McCullough’s book reveals new information about the Wright brothers. The author has carefully documented the spirit, hope, and inspiration that led to the brothers’ success (Kantha, 2012). Despite the obstacles, financial constraints, and frequent modifications, the brothers focused mainly on flying the first aircraft (Harwood & Fogel, 2014). That being the case, I highly recommend this work to every person who is interested in aviation history.


Harwood, C., & Fogel, G. (2014). Quest for flight: John J. Montgomery and the dawn of aviation in the west. Oklahoma, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.

Heard, S. (2016). The scientist’s guide to writing. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Kantha, S. (2012). Why Wright brothers failed to receive Nobel Prize recognition. Current Science, 103(4), 435-437.

Karsh, E., & Fox, A. (2014). The only grant-writing book you’ll ever need. New York, NY: Basic Books.

McCullough, D. (2016). The Wright brothers. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

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Work Cited

"“The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough." IvyPanda, 9 Sept. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/the-wright-brothers-by-david-mccullough/.

1. IvyPanda. "“The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough." September 9, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-wright-brothers-by-david-mccullough/.


IvyPanda. "“The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough." September 9, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-wright-brothers-by-david-mccullough/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "“The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough." September 9, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-wright-brothers-by-david-mccullough/.


IvyPanda. (2020) '“The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough'. 9 September.

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