Candace Fleming Author Essay

The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh

Charles Lindbergh: Comparing the Past to the Present

It began with the Lindbergh baby kidnapping.  That was the story I originally intended to tell.  But as I began corralling my research, the dominant personality that was Charles Lindbergh soon overshadowed everything and everyone else.  He was so complicated, so contradictory, so compelling.  To me, he was the true mystery.  Who, in fact, was Charles Lindbergh?  What really lay beneath his “Lucky Lindy” façade?  I had to know.  And so I charted a new course for my project. I would tell Charles’s entire story; try to understand his motivations; examine his complexities; explore the darker, less savory corners of his inner world.

When studying history, I always find parallels between then and now.  But as I read Charles’s journals, speeches and other writings, I was especially struck by the similarities – those common threads — between his time and our own.  Celebrity politicians.  “Fake news.” The impact of technology on society. White nationalism.  Immigration.  “America First.” All these threads are woven throughout Lindbergh’s story. They were the fundamental issues of his day, issues he wrote and spoke about.  They were entwined with his life.  They formed him.

Perhaps that is why the light this book casts on our present American moment seems so illuminating.  It wasn’t written with the purpose of making facile analogies between then and now.  Rather, it is the story of one fascinating, yet deeply flawed man and the times in which he lived.  By sweeping young readers into his world, they can see their own from another perspective.  And that, of course, is the purpose of biographies.  After all, how else can we learn about living in the present if not by true telling stories from our past?

About the book

Discover the dark side of Charles Lindbergh—one of America’s most celebrated heroes and complicated men—in this riveting biography from the acclaimed author of The Family Romanov.

First human to cross the Atlantic via airplane; one of the first American media sensations; Nazi sympathizer and anti-Semite; loner whose baby was kidnapped and murdered; champion of Eugenics, the science of improving a human population by controlled breeding; tireless environmentalist. Charles Lindbergh was all of the above and more. Here is a rich, multi-faceted, utterly spellbinding biography about an American hero who was also a deeply flawed man. In this time where values Lindbergh held, like white Nationalism and America First, are once again on the rise, The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh is essential reading for teens and history fanatics alike.


⭐ “ Absorbing and distressing in turns, this utterly prescient capture of a life—and the lives it influenced—is essential in classrooms and for history buffs alike.” — Booklist, starred review

⭐“ [A] smoothly written, even-handed biography…” — Bulletin, starred review

⭐“It’s not easy to write the biography of a person who elicits, by turns, admiration, sympathy, and revulsion, but Fleming has accomplished this juggling act, and in doing so, she has created a historical narrative that couldn’t feel more contemporary.” — Horn Book, starred review

⭐“Fleming expertly sources and clearly details a comprehensive picture of a well-known, controversial man.” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

⭐“ A compelling biography of a flawed, larger-than-life man.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

⭐“A must-read. Drawing on primary sources, including Lindbergh’s own journal, Fleming has crafted a cautionary tale of the downfalls of hero worship.” — School Library Journal, starred review

About the author

Random House Teachers and Librarians