On the eve of the centennial of the Wright brothers' historic flights at Kitty Hawk, a new generation will learn about the other man who was once hailed worldwide as the conqueror of the air--Alberto Santos-Dumont. Because the Wright brothers worked in secrecy, word of their first flights had not reached Europe when Santos-Dumont took to the skies in 1906. The dashing, impeccably dressed inventor entertained Paris with his airborne antics--barhopping in a little dirigible that he tied to lampposts, circling above crowds around the Eiffel Tower, and crashing into rooftops. A man celebrated, even pursued by the press in Paris, London, and New York, Santos-Dumont dined regularly with the Cartiers, the Rothschilds, and the Roosevelts. But beneath his lively public exterior, Santos-Dumont was a frenzied genius tortured by the weight of his own creation.
Wings of Madness chronicles the science and history of early aviation and offers a fascinating glimpse into the mind of an extraordinary and tormented man, vividly depicting the sights and sounds of turn-of-the-century Paris. It is a book that will do for aviation what The Man Who Loved Only Numbers did for mathematics.