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Saturday, April 20, 2013

My blog for 4/20/2013 Review of The Aviator's Wife

This book is historical fiction and is well done, told from the first person perspective of Charles
Lindbergh's wife, Anne.  The fiction is imperceivable from the history, the way it's written.  I knew so little about Charles Lindbergh until this book that it filled in all the gaps I've always heard about their family.

Anne Lindberg was a long-suffering sort, who gave in to her husband on almost every single request.  She lost her own identity as soon as she was married, and  became an appendage of her husband, who was a control freak.  He accomplished this by appealing with the logic of his requests and expectations, and of course, she was very pliable.  He had more belief in what she was capable of doing than she, so she let him "guide" her into all aspects of his life. He soaked up all the adulation for her.

She was so fascinated by his aura, his fame, his apparent 100 percent belief in her capabilities that she allowed herself to be guided into becoming a pilot herself, a navigator both in the air and on the sea. When he sent her off a cliff in a prototype glider, she panicked, but made her way to the ground whereas anybody else would have told him where to go.   She learned to navigate by the stars, which was the method navigators used in those days (@1929).  Then she was automatically expected to be his "co-pilot" both in the extensive mapping done from the air, and on the homefront.  She was not given credit for these accomplishments, however, and the further they got into their marriage, the more he was intransigent about her "place" and she was more frustrated that she allowed him to do this to her.  All this while she yearned to be home with her children.

He fell from her grace at the point where their son was kidnapped for ransom, as he insisted upon taking over the search for the child, against Anne's wishes.  I always thought their child had never been recovered, but found that not to be true.  His body was found, as apparently the kidnapper accidentally killed him, yet did receive the ransom (in marked bills due to Investigator Schwartzkopf's insistence).  Therefore, the kidnapper was found through the marked bills given to him and he was imprisoned and executed.  This Schwartzkopf, I believe, was the father of  the current General Schwartzkopf (four star general) who was responsible for the invasion of Iraq some ten years ago.

Charles was the supreme ruler over his home, his mapping business, his wife and children.  It didn't seem to be just an ego thing, but total confidence in his ability to overcome any obstacle and thinking nobody could do anything as well as he, just as the world had accepted him in that role. That  stood him in good stead when he left the United States to be the first man to fly over the ocean to Europe.  I can say he was the  person most responsible for the very beginning of today's global economy.  However, his later beliefs around 1939 that Hitler had the machine to show off his might during the Olympics held in Germany, led Lindbergh to admire the organization of the Hitler regime.  He was so impressed by the show Hitler flouted, he could relate from the perspective that the Jews were infliterating the United States and needed to be stopped,as they seemed to be controlling all the money.  This of was, of course, before the Holocaust. 

Because she would not tell him no, Anne in a more mousely role than I expected from the book's voice, agreed to write up Charles' beliefs in a book they published to sell in the U.S.  It turned into the downfall of the huge myth of epic proportions that Charles was the great American Hero everybody in the world had considered him to be.

I think one of the reasons Charles flirted with Communism, Socialism, Stalinism and even dictatorship was because his life in the U.S. had become so famous that his clothing was literally torn off his body by admiring fans (think Elvis Presley).  His family was captive to their home, with stationed guards posted everywhere, his child was stolen out from under him, and it took almost a year for the authorities to find the kidnapper and his dead child's body.  He was not happy with democracy, as he saw only the underbelly permissiveness. His image as everybody's hero could not be shaken or removed so he was truly cursed with the trappings of fame.  The U.S. had made life so difficult for their family that they often  moved to other countries.

I wanted Anne, throughout the book, to stand up (as she constantly thought about doing) to Charles and take a stand to make any decision of her own.  But did that only by default and never by her choice over his.  Theirs was a marriage of a hero and a mouse, a constant competition in which Anne always lost.  There was no doubt who would win.  The book she wrote caused her to go down with him, which she knew would happen before she wrote it.

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