Wings of Madness: Alberto Santos-Dumont and the Invention of Flight
From the acclaimed author Paul Hoffman comes the engaging true story of Alberto Santos-Dumont’s extraordinary life and the thrilling days of early flight.
Santos-Dumont grew up on a remote coffee plantation in Brazil. Influenced at an early age by Jules Verne and historical accounts of balloon flights, Santos-Dumont set out to create the first practical flying machine.
By the turn of the century, Santos-Dumont had moved to Paris. Soon, the dashing and impeccably dressed aeronaut was barhopping around the city in a one-man dirigible he had invented, circling above crowds and crashing into rooftops. He then built the first airplane in Europe and became an overnight sensation, with the press following his every move. His picture appeared on cigar boxes and dinner plates, and he dined regularly with the Cartiers, the Rothschilds, and the Roosevelts, hosting “aerial dinners” in which his guests ate at an elevated table so they could imagine how it felt to be above the world.
But all would change after Santos-Dumont witnessed the destructive capacity of flying machines in World War I.
This is the riveting story of a tormented visionary who helped usher in the modern age of technology but was ultimately driven mad by the weight of his own creation. Wings of Madness is a book that is elegant, fascinating, and deeply moving.