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Fifty years ago Eddie Rickenbacker was a household name. This wild, funny, highly original novel brings him back to life, simultaneously elevating him to the realm of myth and portraying him with all his flaws. A pioneer in the world of automobiles and autoracing, America's World War I flying ace, a major influence on both the aircraft industry and aircraft design, founder of a major airline, he made front-page news across the country during World War II by surviving in a life raft in the Pacific for twenty-one days.
The novel is told in a multitude of voices ranging from Alfred Sloan of General Motors to novelist John Dos Passos and General Billy Mitchell to Rickenbacker's wife and mother -- and, of course, the voice of Eddie himself. But most startling of all is the voice of God, a detached observer who comments frequently and ironically on Rickenbacker's life and machinations.
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The author of Arms and Men: A History of War, Weapons and Aggression, Robert L. O'Connell has worked for the federal government in both arms control and intelligence. He and his wife live in Ivy, Virginia, and have two grown daughters.From Kirkus Reviews:
A delightful, pie-in-the-sky fictional oral biography of Edward Vernon ``Fast Eddie'' Rickenbacker, featuring real and fabricated anecdotes about the famous WWI ``Ace of Aces'' from such luminaries as Mae West, Manfred von Richtofen ( the Red Baron), Henry Ford, Damon Runyon, FDR, and even God. Perhaps military historian O'Connell (Of Arms and Men, not reviewed) lost most of his notes and decided to wing it. The result is a rollicking mix of pathos and bathos as the Ohio-born Billy Rickenbacherhe anglicanized his surname to disguise his Germanic heritagecareens from daunting hardship (his father's death in a barroom fight, leaving penniless a wife and family of eight; wartime brushes with death; a celebrated WWII downing in the South Pacific) to sunny triumph as an automobile racer, fighter pilot, and flamboyant chairman of Eastern Airlines. Described by those around him variously as a fraud, a cheapskate, a sexual athlete, a visionary hip-shooter, and a son any mother would love, Rickenbacker becomes a ``Hawaiian shirt of a man, pulled up so high by his own bootstraps that he confuse[s] anoxia with transcendental zoot'' as he is manipulated by a pompously cruel, wisecracking God (to whom O'Connell, following Joseph Heller's precedent, gives the best lines) and ends as a red-baiting egomaniac whose mistrust of jet engines almost destroys Eastern. Along the way, were treated to inside glimpses of the big-business intrigues that launched the automobile and airline industries, plus eerie, beyond-the-grave narratives from dead German fliers and other victims of circumstance wondering why they had to die to feed Rickenbacker's reckless lust for headline-making fame. Even though Rickenbacker died in 1973, this soaring, tragicomic celebration of guts and glory sums up the best and worst of the American century. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description William Morrow, 1999. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0688166903
Book Description William Morrow, 1999. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0688166903