The Many Lives of Eddie Rickenbacker

Ohio Univ. Pr. (Biographies for Young Readers). Oct. 2020. 144p. Tr $32.95. ISBN 9780821424308; pap. $16.95. ISBN 9780821424315.
Gr 4-6–Eddie Rickenbacker (1890–1973), a white American World War I veteran who was born in Ohio, lived a multifaceted life. After his father died, Rickenbacker went to work at the age of 13. When he was 15, Rickenbacker got a job at Frayer-Miller, an automobile workshop. At the age of 17, Rickenbacker became chief testing engineer at Columbus Buggy Company. One way to garner publicity for the new vehicles was to race them, so for a while, he acted as a car salesman during the week and a test driver on the weekends. Eventually, he started racing full-time and later bought the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. During World War I, Rickenbacker served as a fighter pilot. In 1934, he was chosen to be the general manager of Eastern Air Lines. When World War II broke out, Rickenbacker traveled to motivate and inspire the troops, and to relay confidential messages. When his plane was forced to make an emergency landing in the Pacific Ocean, Rickenbacker and the crew spent a little over three weeks at sea in a lifeboat. This extensively researched work incorporates primary sources and archival photographs. The text describes both positive and negative elements of Rickenbacker’s personality and achievements. The formal writing style may dissuade young readers at first, but the pace picks up once Rickenbacker starts racing cars.
VERDICT Patient readers will gain insight into a unique life story. Collections centered on local Ohio history will have a special interest in this title.

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