Enduring Courage: Ace Pilot Eddie Rickenbacker and the Dawn of the Age of Speed
By: John F. Ross
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publishing Date: May 2014
Reviewed by: Mary Lignor
Review Date: May 28, 2014
Enduring Courage is a book that chronicles the life and times of Eddie Rickenbacker, an American legend and Medal of Honor recipient, with 26 victories in the skies. He was also into race cars and did some racing. In addition, he was an automobile designer, military consultant and the head of Eastern Air Lines. He was the master of all he surveyed and a genuine hero for all to look up to. “Eddie” loved machines of any sort and defied the Grim Reaper many times with his racing exploits in both car or plane.
Eddie Rickenbacker was born in Ohio, a son of Swiss immigrants. When he was a teenager, his father died after a fight with another man. Eddie left school to get a job and help his family, but found that he couldn’t leave any kind of machine alone. He decided to enroll in an engineering course, trying to learn all he could about automobiles and eventually becoming a salesman at the Columbus, Ohio Buggy Company. He became a well-known race car driver who competed in the famous Indianapolis 500 four times before World War I.
Before the US entered the war, Rickenbacker was chomping at the bit to be an aviator. When he finally was able to join up he faced many challenges, including, at one time, of being accused of spying for Germany. He did, however, go on to become an American Ace pilot. Don’t forget folks; this was way before parachutes, radar that could find you in a jiffy and any type of radios. So, the pilots were pretty much on their own up in the wild blue yonder. This is a reason that the gung ho pilots usually didn’t have long lives as they pushed their machines to the edge and over it if they had to.
In his later life, Rickenbacker was just as gutsy as he had always been by buying Eastern Air Lines in 1938 and becoming an ace businessman. During WWII, he lived through two terrible plane crashes, one of them during a secret mission into the Pacific which left him lost at sea for 24 days until he and his fellow survivors were rescued.
Enduring Courage is a terrific story about the emerging age of speed, how it came about and how this man, above all else, let the world know that they would be moving forward. Many people believed that Rickenbacker was a bit of a show off, but he definitely had courage and smarts to outwit drivers on a race track, men piloting air planes, and commanding men in the skies.
Quill says: This is a very honestly written story about a very courageous man who led an exemplary life. The author does a fine job letting the readers know that this particular legend was a man who always pushed the envelope, particularly when the subject of speed came up.