In the first few years of the twentieth century, inventors discovered how to soar into the sky. This breathtaking true story is about two men who, on one fateful weekend, tried to show the world a way back down.
It was early February 1912, and Franz Reichelt, a Paris tailor, and Rodman Law, a self-described “professional jackass” from New York, were poised, respectively, on the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty, ready to deploy an experimental parachute. In bat wings and bundled linen, they were almost certain their contraptions would work. Here is the tale of their inspirations and their pluck—and what happened next.
At just over an hour this short story is included as an Amazon Prime, Kindle Unlimited, or Audible Plus membership benefit. These make great lunch break (or while folding laundry) listens. Here’s a full listing of Amazon Original Stories if you’re interested in more of these shorts.
Obviously, this isn’t intended to be a comprehensive biography of either Reichelt or Law. Instead Engber uses newspapers, diaries, and interviews to share an interesting tale of two men who sought to keep gravity from ensuring death. Their motivations and personalities were quite different and the juxtaposition of their lives and time in history is compelling.
Note: While I listened to the audio, I also “read along” with the ebook. I highly recommend this as there are numerous photographs that add to the experience.
I’m a fan of Amy McFadden and she’s a great choice to narrate this story which is at turns humorous and poignant.
About the author:
Daniel Engber is a writer and journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Radiolab, Slate, This American Life, Wired, and other publications.
You can connect with Daniel Engber here:
About the narrator:
From Amy McFadden’s website: Hi! This part is all about me. Just me. It feels weird to write a bunch of stuff about myself but I don’t like pictures of me so I’ll have to use words instead.
I live in Michigan with my fiancé, Joe Anderson. He makes me laugh so much I never have to do situps. Truthfully, I probably wouldn’t do situps anyway, but hey, it’s still a nice bonus to our love.
I’m an actress now, and I used to be a 2nd grade teacher. I loved that part of my life, but after doing it for a bunch of years, I was ready to move on to the next version of me. They’re not really very different versions-teachers and actresses both reach out and engage people through stories. I’m NOT a morning person, but waking up to tell stories makes mornings better-than-tolerable.
I love books and the Muppets and smart people and kind people (not necessarily in that order) and sleeping and chocolate and coffee and writers and learning and Oreo cookies and a bunch of other stuff-but I’m starting to make myself gag on all this love.
I hate a bunch of stuff, too, but who cares about that junk? It’s probably the same stuff you hate, so I won’t bore you. Except I REALLY hate listening to people eat bananas.
You can connect with Amy McFadden here:
My Favorite Quotes
One got the sense that man had launched himself into the heavens, and only then remembered that he couldn’t float. – Jump! by @danengber #Audiobook narrated by @amymcnarrator #AmazonOriginal #ShortStory #Biography #HistoryTweet
“It’s three-fourths mathematics,” he’d explain, “and the rest is bunk.” – Jump! by @danengber #Audiobook narrated by @amymcnarrator #AmazonOriginal #ShortStory #Biography #HistoryTweet
You could say my whole life has been one long risk. – Jump! by @danengber #Audiobook narrated by @amymcnarrator #AmazonOriginal #ShortStory #Biography #HistoryTweet