A. Scott Berg

Lindbergh | Synopsis

Few American icons provoke more enduring fascination than Charles Lindbergh—renowned for his one-man transatlantic flight in 1927, remembered for the sorrow surrounding the kidnapping and death of his firstborn son in 1932, and reviled by many for his opposition to America's entry into World War II. Lindbergh's is "a dramatic and disturbing American story," says the Los Angeles Times Book Review, and this biography—the first to be written with unrestricted access to the Lindbergh archives and extensive interviews of his friends, colleagues, and close family members—is "the definitive account."

Lindbergh | A Photographic Timeline

Eight-year-old Charles Lindbergh with his father, the Congressman from Little Falls, Minnesota, C. A. Lindbergh. Although he and his wife kept separate residences in Washington during his five terms as a Congressman, Evangeline always encouraged Charles to spend time with his father.


1910

After dropping out of the University of Wisconsin, Lindbergh learned to fly airplanes. He made money barnstorming in the 1920s with his friend Harlan "Bud" Gurney.


1923

Mid-May 1927. Lindbergh takes the Spirit of St. Louis on a test flight from a Long Island runway. The press was already making the most of the story. Days later, he flew alone from New York to Paris, becoming the first person to cross the Atlantic nonstop—in a total of 33 ½ hours.


May 20-21, 1927

The spirit of St. Louis. Local boy comes home. With parades, receptions, and honors from practically every city in the United States and every country in the world, Lindbergh became the most celebrated living person ever to walk the planet.


June 18, 1927

After only a few secret dates, the "Prince of the Air" married Anne Morrow, the daughter of the American Ambassador to Mexico, Dwight W. Morrow.


1929

Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh became international celebrities—the "First Couple of the Skies."


1931

The beginnings of America's rocket program—physicist Robert H. Goddard, flanked by his two strongest supporters, Harry Guggenheim and Charles Lindbergh.


1931

"The Lindbergh Baby" on his first birthday, June 22, 1931.


1931

March 1932. Outside the baby's room of the Lindbergh house near Hopewell, New Jersey. For two and a half years, the authorities had no idea as to who climbed the ladder and kidnapped the baby.


1932

Bruno Richard Hauptmann. Arrested for committing "The Crime of the Century."


1934

Lindbergh on the stand during the "Trial of the Century." Once he testified, his attorney said afterward, the trial was over.


1935

The Lindberghs found security at Long Barn in England. Their second son, Jon, and Anne with their dogs, Skean and Thor.


1936

Lindbergh visited Germany six times between 1936 and 1938, a fascination that plagued him for the rest of his life. Here, he and Anne meet Hermann Goering. (Goering photo Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München)


1936

As seen here in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Lindbergh became the chief spokesman for the America First movement, advocating against U. S. intervention in World War II.


1941

Anne and Charles in Bavaria. Their marriage was not the storybook romance the world imagined. Decades later, three secret families of Lindbergh in Europe were revealed.


1955

Never able to stay long in a single place, Lindbergh continued to tour the world, fighting for environmental issues. Seen here in Brazil.


1969

October 1969. Anne Morrow Lindbergh in her "Little House," where she wrote her perennial bestseller Gift from the Sea and several volumes of bestselling diaries.


1969

Two years after this visit to Tonga, Lindbergh learned of his imminent death from cancer. Charles and Anne and their sons went to their home on Maui, where the boys dug their father's grave—all according to his instructions.


1972

Lindbergh | Excerpt

For more than a day the world held its breath . . . and then the small plane was sighted over Ireland.

Twenty-seven hours after he had left Roosevelt Field in New York—alone, in the Spirit of St. Louis—word quickly spread from continent to continent that Charles A. Lindbergh had survived the most perilous leg of his journey—the fifteen-hour crossing of the Atlantic. He had to endure but a few more hours before reaching his destination, Paris. Anxiety yielded to anticipation.

The American Ambassador to France, Myron T. Herrick, went to St. Cloud after lunch that Saturday to watch the Franco-American team-tennis matches. When he took his seat in the front row, five thousand fans cheered. During the course of the afternoon, people in the stands heard newsboys shouting the headlines of their éditions spéciales, announcing Lindbergh’s expected arrival that night. In the middle of the match, Herrick received a telegram—confirmation that Lindbergh had passed over Valencia in Ireland. All eyes were on the Ambassador as he hastily left courtside, convincing most of the spectators that their prayers were being answered. Before the match had ended, the stands began to empty.

Herrick rushed back to his residence in Paris, ate a quick dinner at 6:30, then left for the airfield at Le Bourget, to the northeast of the city. “It was a good thing we did not delay another quarter of an hour,” Herrick recalled, “for crowds were already collecting along the road and in a short time passage was almost impossible.”

The boulevards were jammed with cars ten abreast. Passengers poked their heads through the sliding roof panels of the Parisian taxis, greeting each other in jubilation. “Everyone had acquired a bottle of something and, inasmuch as the traffic moved very slowly,” one reveler recalled of that night in 1927, “bottles were passed from cab to cab celebrating the earthshaking achievement.” A mile from the airfield, the flow of traffic came to a standstill.

Once the radio announced that Lindbergh had flown over southern England, mobs formed in the heart of Paris. Thirty thousand people flocked toward the Place de l’Opéra, where illuminated advertising signs flashed news bulletins. Over the next few hours, the crowds spilled into the Boulevard Poissoniére—until it became unpassable—where they expected to find the most reliable accounts of Lindbergh’s progress posted in front of the Paris Matin offices. “Not since the armistice of 1918,” observed one reporter, “has Paris witnessed a downright demonstration of popular enthusiasm and excitement equal to that displayed by the throngs flocking to the boulevards for news of the American flier, whose personality has captured the hearts of the Parisian multitude.”

Lindbergh | Press

PRINCETON ALUMNI WEEKLY - NOV 18, 1998

Writer A. Scott Berg '71 admires Charles Lindbergh, the subject of the most recent of his three biographies of major 20th-century Americans, as a man who "blazed his own trail, went his own way, followed his own stars," and "packed seven or eight lives into one lifetime."

Published in September by G.P. Putnam's, the 640-page Lindbergh is the first authorized biography of the famous aviator, whose now 93-year-old widow, the author Anne Morrow Lindbergh, granted Berg access to all her husband's papers and to hers as well, telling him, "You can't write about Charles without writing about me." Supplemented by interviews with family members and others whose lives transected Lindbergh's, this wealth of material -- contained in some 2,000 boxes, mostly at Yale -- enabled Berg to write with greater detail and accuracy than any of Lindbergh's previous biographers.

Berg, who has also chronicled the careers of book editor Maxwell Perkins and film mogul Samuel Goldwyn, says he enjoys "painting on big canvases." He needed one for a life so full and at times controversial.

In 1927, Lindbergh won instant fame as the first person to fly nonstop across the Atlantic. In the 1930s, as a consultant to Pan American and TWA, he pioneered routes for the fledgling airline industry. He suffered the kidnapping and death of his first child and the media circus that surrounded the ensuing "Trial of the Century." As the chief spokesman for the America First Committee, he campaigned to keep the United States out of World War II and was branded an antisemite for statements he made on behalf of that cause. After the U.S. entered the war, as a civilian working for the aircraft industry, he trained U.S. pilots in the South Pacific and flew with them on 50 combat missions. He devoted the last decade of his life to conservation, criss-crossing the globe as a spokesman for the World Wildlife Fund and declaring, "If I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes."

Lindbergh also dabbled in medical technology, inventing a pump that paved the way for organ transplants. And he wrote six books, including The Spirit of St. Louis, a Pulitzer-prize-winning account of his history-making flight.

Berg portrays Lindbergh as a man of vision and purpose who was also deeply flawed. He supported ideas about eugenics and racial purity and in the 1930s professed admiration for Nazi Germany, a position he never quite repudiated.

Charles and Anne had five more children after the death of Charles, Jr. But as a husband and father, says Berg, Lindbergh more often than not was "physically and emotionally absent." A perfectionist, he held his wife and children to dauntingly high standards of achievement. He made lists of tasks for everyone, then grilled them on what they had done or left undone. His compulsive nature and discipline were key to his many accomplishments as a pilot, but on the domestic front, writes Berg, they made for "a home with much love but little affection."

Berg himself benefited from his subject's mania for detail and control. Lindbergh catalogued his papers, which Berg found "in a miraculous order." He saved copies of every letter he wrote and every scrap of correspondence from others, including total strangers. He annotated previous books about him, typing lists of errors and corrections that sometimes ran to 75 single-spaced pages. Anticipating research by future biographers, he left notes in the margins of letters such as "Do not believe this man. What this letter says is not true. Please see my diaries or Anne's diaries." As Berg told Vanity Fair magazine, his qualifications were sometimes "less than flattering to him, but they were always the truth. It was done with a cold, objective sense of himself."

Today there are many people who still haven't forgiven Lindbergh for what is perceived as his pro-Nazi, anti-Jewish stand during the prewar era. In the 1930s, following several official tours of Germany, Lindbergh provided the U.S. Army Air Corps with valuable intelligence on the growing strength of the Luftwaffe. On one visit to Germany he accepted a medal from Hitler's second-in-command, Air Marshal Herman Goering. It returned to haunt him weeks later, when Nazi bully boys rampaged against Jews in the infamous Kristallnacht -- the "night of broken glass" -- and Lindbergh refused to return the medal. He also made public statements about the invincibility of the Nazis and their value as a bulwark against the Soviet Union, which he regarded as by far the greater evil.

Lindbergh stirred up more controversy when he took up the cause of nonintervention as a member of the America First Committee. In a speech in Des Moines, Iowa, in September 1941 -- three months before Pearl Harbor -- he condemned what he saw as Jewish efforts to drag America into the war. He stereotyped Jews as a "race" with undue influence in the media, warning that the "passions and prejudices" of such "other peoples" would lead the country to ruin.

Editorial writers and politicians of all stripes condemned him in what Berg describes as "a niagara of invective. Few men in American history," he writes, "had ever been so reviled." Lindbergh, who counted at least one Jew -- the philanthropist Harry Guggenheim -- as among his closest friends, never understood the reaction. To his dying day he denied being an antisemite.

Berg, who is Jewish, tried to approach this aspect of Lindbergh with an open mind. Of his antisemitism, he says, "I found less and more than I expected. Less in the sense that he was not an overt Jew-hater as I'd been raised to believe. His was a kind of genteel antisemitism. But in his Des Moines speech he segregated Jews, suggesting they were different from other Americans, and that's what done him in." At the same time, adds Berg, "He stereotyped all groups, in large measure because as an aviator he was so detached from the earth. Literally and metaphorically, he had an aerial perspective on countries and peoples, which he saw as masses of population."

For some of his material on America First, Berg relied on interviews with Robert Stuart '37, who as the young chairman of the organization came to know Lindbergh well. Stuart was at Yale Law School when he founded America First with fellow students Gerald Ford, Sargent Shriver, and Kingman Brewster, among others. "That was one of the interesting surprises to me," says Berg. "I had long thought of America First as just a bunch of middle-aged, midwestern Republicans who opposed FDR, not as something started by students at Yale."

Other alumni Berg interviewed included Oren Root '33, a stepson of one of the Lindberghs' friends and a frequent weekend guest at their home in Hopewell, New Jersey, before the kidnapping; and actor Jimmy Stewart '32, a lifelong admirer of Lindbergh who lobbied to play the flier in the 1957 film version of The Spirit of St. Louis.

While living in Hopewell in the early 1930s, Lindbergh conducted some of his medical research in one of the university's laboratories. He later left Princeton a sealed crate of personal papers from that part of his life. "It was sort of a mystery box in Firestone Library," says Berg. "Lindbergh intended it to remain sealed until 50 years after his or his wife's death, but Anne gave me permission to open it. Their daughter Reeve was with me when I did so, I think in 1993. It contained some miscellaneous correspondence that was useful, but otherwise I didn't find much of importance."

The only child of what Berg describes as "woefully ill-matched parents," Lindbergh grew up in rural Minnesota and in Washington, D.C., where his father, a populist Republican who opposed U.S. entry into World War I, served five terms in Congress. Shy by nature, shunted between a mother and father who lived apart, and seldom attending the same school for more than a year, he emerged from childhood, writes Berg, "virtually friendless and self-absorbed."

The Lindbergh portrayed by Berg was from early age a self-reliant loner, more comfortable with machines than people. He was driving a car by 11, and by 22 (after flunking out of the University of Wisconsin) he had learned to fly in a creaky war-surplus biplane. He became a barnstorming stunt pilot, then a pilot for the new airmail service. Based in St. Louis, where his daredevil flying skills had made him a local celebrity, he convinced some of the city's businessmen to back his attempt to win a $25,000 prize for the first person to fly nonstop between New York and Paris. On May 20-21, 1927, fighting fog, ice, and sleep, Lindbergh made the 3,614-mile flight in 33 hours and 30 minutes while the world held its breath, tracking his course from sightings over Newfoundland, Ireland, England, and the coast of France.

"Lindbergh's arrival in Paris," writes Berg, "became the defining moment of his life, that event on which all his future actions hinged." He was woefully unprepared for the public hysteria that began with 150,000 Frenchmen breaking through barriers to storm the Spirit of St. Louis as it taxied to a stop at LeBourget Field. Years later, in one of her diaries, Anne Morrow Lindbergh reflected on that moment when her husband, "so innocent & unaware," saw rushing at him "Fame -- Opportunity -- Wealth -- and also tragedy & loneliness."

More prosaically, Berg comments on the many quotations attributed to Lindbergh upon his arrival in Paris -- such statements as, "I'm Charles Lindbergh," and "Well, I made it" -- which he always denied saying. Writes Berg, "In truth, all he said was, 'Are there any mechanics here?'"

Lindbergh's youthful reticence and movie-star looks added to the mystique that made him, says Berg, "the first modern media superstar" -- and the first to be stalked by the press. He came to loathe most reporters and photographers, and their incessant hounding eventually forced him and his family to seek refuge abroad.

Two years after his famous flight, Lindbergh married Anne Morrow, the daughter of the American ambassador to Mexico. Berg limns a relationship that was far from the storybook romance the public assumed. Anne's best-selling books, such as North to the Orient (1935) and Gift From the Sea (1955), made her a star in her own right, but she had none of her husband's self-confidence. Not until fairly late in life did she emerge from the shadow of his domineering personality. Berg reveals that she considered divorce and in her 50s entered into an affair with her physician, who provided her with the emotional support her husband never could.

The marriage survived that and worse; Berg tells of instances when Charles behaved with an insensitivity bordering on mental cruelty. During the long ordeal surrounding their son's kidnapping -- it was nearly three years between the crime and the capture and conviction of the kidnapper, Bruno Richard Hauptmann -- he refused to let her weep in his presence. At one point during the trial, writes Berg, "Charles snapped. Before leaving for the start of summations in court, he lost his temper and dumped years of frustration on his wife. He told Anne she had been living too much within herself and was controlled by her feelings. He showed no mercy for her fragile state of mind." He chastised her for neglecting work on a book she was writing and rebuked her as a "failure." Charles himself dealt with the tragedy by keeping busy with details of the crime; Anne said she never saw her husband cry over the death of their son.

Lindbergh retained to the end his need for control. In 1974, at age 72, while dying of lymphatic cancer at his home in a remote part of Hawaii, he specified every aspect of his funeral and memorial service. He dictated the exact dimensions and construction of the grave ("Father was obsessed about drainage," his son Jon told Berg) and the design of the coffin (flat-sided, with no curves, and hewn by hand from native wood). He wanted his body wrapped in all-cotton sheets, but when they couldn't be found in the local store he settled on a cotton-polyester blend. Lindbergh also insisted on a "natural burial" -- he was not to be embalmed.

As Lindbergh lay on his death bed, his son Land "instinctively wanted to hold his father, but he knew how much he disliked being touched," writes Berg. "And so, with his mother at one end of the bed, he sat at the other, putting his hand on his father's foot. For more than ten minutes they sat there as the room became increasingly still. 'And then,' recalled Land, 'he just went.'"

 

Scott Berg admits to sharing certain characteristics with his famous subject: "We have the same work ethic, and we both get off on detail. We're both practical dreamers, with our head in the clouds but our feet on the ground. But I like to think I have more humor -- Lindbergh and his father both judged a joke by how much laughter they suppressed. And I can't imagine Charles Lindbergh ever being in a Triangle Show."

Berg also exhibits more than a little of Lindbergh's obsessiveness. His first great obsession -- and the reason he came to Princeton -- was F. Scott Fitzgerald '17. As a 15-year-old high-school student in Pacific Palisades, California, he was assigned in English class to write about an American author. "I chose Fitzgerald," he recalls, "mostly at the urging of my mother, who revealed to me that I'd been named for him because she'd been reading his novels when she was pregnant with me. I developed a mania for Fitzgerald -- by the time I'd graduated from high school I'd read everything he'd written. I started with The Great Gatsby and moved on to Tender Is the Night, which just swept me away. Then I read This Side of Paradise, his novel about Princeton -- I literally slept with that book under my pillow for two years. I became hell-bent on going to Princeton, and I could draw a map of the campus before I ever set foot on it."

At Princeton he joined Fitzgerald's eating club (Cottage), and like his hero he wrote and acted in Triangle. He wrote a junior paper on Fitzgerald, and for the topic of his senior thesis he chose Maxwell Perkins, the Scribner's editor who nurtured the careers of Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, and Ernest Hemingway. Berg's adviser was Hemingway's biographer, the late Carlos Baker *40.

"Carlos Baker changed my life," says Berg. "There was a moment after my junior year when I almost dropped out of school to become an actor. The Triangle Show played at Lincoln Center, and I got a standing ovation. When I returned backstage, three agents were waiting. They told me that if I signed with them I could go to work tomorrow. I was all set, until I discussed it with Baker and he asked, 'What about that Max Perkins thesis you wanted to write? Why don't you graduate, so at least you'll be an actor with a college degree?' I think I was just looking for somebody to give me that advice. Without it, today I'd probably be doing Man of La Mancha in summer stock in Columbus."

His thesis on Perkins ran to 250 pages -- he needed special dispensation from the English department to make it so long. He received an A-plus, and it won the department's thesis prize. Encouraged by Baker and others, Berg spent the next six years expanding it into a full-blown biography. Published in 1979, Max Perkins: Editor of Genius became a bestseller and won a National Book Award.

He spent another eight years writing his next book, the authorized Goldwyn: A Biography (1989). The founder of MGM was a natural subject for Berg, who grew up in the film business (his father produced made-for-TV movies), and who today makes his home in Los Angeles. Steven Spielberg has optioned his biography of Lindbergh, and Berg expects to have an advisory role on the film when shooting starts, probably next fall.

Of his three biographical subjects, Berg says, "All are 20th-century American cultural figures through whose lives I could tell a bigger story. With Max Perkins the story was 30 years of American literature, and with Sam Goldwyn it was 60 years of motion pictures. Charles Lindbergh is a window onto the whole world -- a great lens for observing the American century. When I talked with Spielberg he compared him to Forrest Gump: at any historic moment, there he is in the middle of it -- with Robert Goddard making rockets, or with Goering or Calvin Coolidge or Douglas MacArthur. He just keeps popping up. Of course, half the time history was popping up around him -- he was the focal point."

Lindbergh is also the subject who intrigues Berg the most: "He had the greatest breadth and depth in his thinking. I would have enjoyed spending time with him, but I certainly wouldn't have wanted him to be my father. He was a very cold customer."

CNN - SEP 25, 1998

When the O.J. Simpson trial held the nation's attention in 1995, A. Scott Berg found himself ingesting a healthy dose of perspective.

The award-winning author was in Los Angeles, working on his latest biography, and media figures blaring from his TV were throwing about phrases like "Crime of the Century" to describe the murder of Simpson's ex-wife and her friend, and "Trial of the Century" to convey the scope of Simpson's months spent in court.

Berg, who grew up in Brentwood where Simpson later owned a mansion, knew that the Simpson saga was far from being the crime or trial of the last 100 years. In fact, at that moment Berg was recreating for his encompassing biography on Charles Lindbergh the true Crime and Trial of the Century -- the kidnapping and murder of Baby Lindbergh, and the trial and execution of Bruno Richard Hauptmann.

"First of all, it was this beloved little baby," Berg says. "The Lindbergh baby was the most famous baby in the world, the son of the most beloved man on earth."

Still, Berg -- ever the student of 20th century history -- could not help but realize the astounding parallels between the trial he was putting on the printed page and the one filling the television screens.

"I was struck every day by all the uncanny resemblances," Berg says. "Everything that happened at the O.J. trial -- cameras in the courtroom, lawyers giving interviews at lunch trying to influence the media -- they had that at the Lindbergh trial. Everything we saw and thought in O.J. happened at the Lindbergh trial."

It almost goes without saying that the life of Charles Lindbergh was always steps -- at times leaps -- ahead of those around him. If he was not the first to do or be something, he was certainly at the forefront of each movement he chose to join.

His most famous accomplishment -- the mythic solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927 -- was a feat so mind-bending to the general masses that Berg says there's nothing to compare it to today.

"It's almost as if Neil Armstrong decided to go to the moon ... decided to go by himself, just built his rocket ship and did it," says Berg. "It's hard to imagine something like that happening today."

When Lindbergh landed in Paris 33 hours after he left American shores, the world bowed at his feet, and he found himself engaged in another first.

"He really did become the first modern media superstar," Berg says. "He's the most celebrated living person ever to walk the earth. He was the first pop star, in a way."

And since he was the first to reach such status in the public's eye, he became the first modern celebrant to be ultimately stung by tragedy. The murder of Lindbergh's 20-month-old boy touched off a circus -- both by the media and by average citizens -- that has not been seen since.

Those two events -- the flight into glory, and the murder of his child -- are the encyclopedic entries by which most Americans define Lindbergh. But there was much more to Lindbergh's existence, and certainly his wasn't always the life of a hero.

Berg has been writing biographies for his entire adult life. At 48, he has never known another post-college job. He began his first biography as a senior thesis at Princeton. That paper evolved into "Max Perkins: Editor of Genius" -- the National Book Award winner.

Berg has also turned out the highly-praised chronicle on the life of movie-maker Samuel Goldwyn.

Berg's subjects are 20th century figures by no coincidence. The writer is fascinated by the people who defined the era that is passing.

"The great similarity is that they are 20th-century cultural figures through whose lives I can tell a bigger story," Berg says. "They can be the focal point of the books, but you can pull back and see what's going on in the world during their lives."

It seems that Lindbergh's life was formatted for the biography -- distinguished by a major event (the flight) that not only transforms him to the stratum of fable, but allows the introduction for all other events in his life to be caused by, measured by and reflected upon.

But Berg felt the need to tell the whole story, beyond the suffocating and overwhelming fame, beyond the "fascinating marriage" to Anne Morrow, beyond the fairy-tale of Lindbergh's flight and the nightmare of his son's murder.

"People didn't have a clue what happened to Lindbergh after the kidnapping," Berg says. "We knew about every step he took, and then suddenly he disappears."

Berg's biography, "Lindbergh" -- while focusing on the two life-altering moments of Lindbergh's life -- also sheds light on the telling years before and after.

"I think people generally do not know the breadth and depth of his mind," Berg says. "They don't know about his medical research, or his role in the American rocket and space program, or his work in archeology, or anthropology. They don't know about the conservation work he did the last 20 years of his life."

And perhaps they've forgotten that Lindbergh, as his sister-in-law once said, "went from Jesus to Judas in the span of 15 years," crashing from popularity when he vented his isolationist stance as America readied for World War II, and some say he revealed in one particular speech his true nature as an anti-Semitic recipient of Hitler's Service Cross of the German Eagle.

"He was the great hero of the century, and then the great victim, and then he became the great villain," Berg says.

"Lindbergh" reminds readers of every detail. Perhaps the defining work on the subject, "Lindbergh" is receiving praise across the board. Steven Spielberg has already bought the movie rights.

The work is a result of Berg's careful research, masterful writing and the fact that he scored a biographer's coup: Lindbergh's widow, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, now 92, allowed Berg to be the first writer given total access to Lindbergh's personal papers, letters, history -- an estimated 2,000 boxes worth of information.

"Then she called me and said, 'You can't do this without access to my life, too,'" Berg says. "She held back nothing."

Through the window of Anne Lindbergh's generosity, and through interviews with dozens of people who knew the Lindberghs, four years of research, and another four years of writing, Berg reveals the most complete look at Lindbergh to date.

The chapters devoted to the kidnapping provide the most insight into the crime since the world followed its developments in newspapers as they happened over two months in the spring of 1932.

Berg is a master at organizing the most minute details and how they related to the case -- the symbols on the ransom notes, the string used to tie ransom money together, the accent of "Cemetery John." The surreal unfolding of events reveals itself like a best-selling thriller with all too realistic and tragic consequences.

"My main goal was to sort out the myth from the facts in Lindbergh's life and to convey those facts in dramatic a fashion as possible," Berg says.

Perhaps most revealing of Lindbergh, the man, is his simple reaction to the revelation that his son had been killed the first night he was stolen from his crib and carried from a second-story window of Lindbergh's Hopewell, New Jersey, estate. He never cried, his wife said.

Berg has been so infatuated with the Lindbergh project over the last eight years that he has refused to join the information age by going online; he didn't want to be distracted. He says after the book tour, the first thing he'll do is step into cyberspace.

His commitment to the book is refreshing. After Lindbergh was hounded by the press all his life, historians would agree that the aviator deserves to have his story told with the respect that Berg implies.

"What I hope my book does is turn the myth into the man," Berg says, who admits that despite the complexity of the character, he still puts Lindbergh on a pedestal.

"I definitely consider him a hero," Berg says. "There's no question that he performed a death-defying deed, something that no one did before, that demanded bravery and vision and great skill.

"He was also only a mortal. And that's a part that a lot of people fail to consider. He has human frailties."

 

LOS ANGELES TIMES -

“The definitive account of a dramatic and disturbing American story…One of the most important biographies of the decade…an extraordinary achievement.”

KIRKUS REVIEWS -

“A magisterial work…a superb job…With Berg’s free access to previously unavailable documentation, this is sure to be the definitive biography of Lindbergh.”

THE NEW YORK TIMES -

“Charles Lindbergh’s one-man flight from New York to Paris in 1927 made him the most admired man on earth, and the kidnapping and death of his firstborn son won him the word’s sympathy in 1932. But after Pearl Harbor, memories of his obdurate opposition to American intervention in the war against Hitler caused millions to see him as a Nazi sympathizer, a defeatist, perhaps even a traitor. ‘Imagine,’ his sister-in-law wrote, ‘in just 15 years he had gone from Jesus to Judas.’…In Lindbergh, A. Scott Berg brings us about as close as I suspect we will ever get to the man himself. The first biographer to be granted unfettered access to Lindbergh’s private papers, Berg provides enough fresh detail to trace the roots of Lindbergh’s personality, its strengths as well as its maddening flaws, all the way back to his turbulent boyhood.”

NEWSDAY -

“A thorough, level-headed evaluation of the glories, tragedies, and often infuriating complexities of this extraordinary life.”

PEOPLE -

“Berg’s biography [is] sure to renew interest in this unique American hero.”

BOSTON SUNDAY GLOBE -

“Charles Lindbergh’s is the ultimate American life, and A. Scott Berg’s new biography is the ultimate, and understated, exploration of that life…in an astonishing biography of a man who personified the future tense, no sentence is overwritten, no passage overwrought…a volume that captures not only the heroism but the anguish of Lindbergh—the haunting loneliness of being what Berg called ‘the most celebrated living person ever to walk the earth.’”

VANITY FAIR -

“A biography that will be one of the publishing events of the year…one of the most extraordinary lives of the 20th century.”

TIME -

“Superb.”

SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS -

“Berg’s narrative is brisk and unhysterical, well-suited to his subject…[a] vivid emotional portrait of Lindbergh.” 

USA TODAY -

“The most outstanding piece of nonfiction that I have read this year…Berg does a spectacular job of establishing why Lindbergh proves such a powerful icon for the 20th century….Lindbergh is a superior book because it’s an organic book, not some padded-out magazine article cobbled together from newspaper clips and earlier biographies. Instead, Lindbergh is a substantial piece of history that illuminates an important figure…It’s the kind of book that took almost a decade to create. And it’s worth it.”

ESQUIRE -

“Fanatically researched and very moving…stunning in its fairness to a harsh and unknowable Charles Lindbergh.” 

NATIONAL REVIEW -

“Outstanding.”

WASHINGTON POST BOOK WORLD -

“A comprehensive and invaluable text.” 

MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL -

“A. Scott Berg’s Lindbergh is an outstanding book on many counts, for its storytelling especially; but Berg’s accomplishment is in putting into perspective both the melodrama of Lindbergh’s life, and the complex personality who was its protagonist, and its reluctant—often rebellious—passenger…an unending store of memorable anecdotes.”

HOUSTON CHRONICLE -

“Superb.”

PARADE -

“Recounts [Lindbergh’s] life with understanding, sympathy, and a wealth of detail.” 

FT. WORTH STAR TELEGRAM -

“A masterwork that does full, objective justice to one of the towering figures of our times.” 

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER -

“A richly detailed and deeply nuanced examination of a historic life in all its complexity… [a] must-read.”