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(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

Dr. Alexis Carrel
Dr. Carrel became a figure of major importance in Lindbergh’s life. Berg presents him as a father figure, stating that ‘‘in Dr. Carrel, the hero found a hero—the first since his father; and Carrel found a son.’’ Lindbergh is introduced to Carrel in 1930, when Lindbergh inquires about why an artificial pump could not be used to circulate blood during an operation on his sister-in-law’s heart and is told that the doctor is working on just such a thing. Carrel was the first surgeon awarded the Nobel Prize, in 1912, for work on the grafting of blood vessels and organs. He was researching the artificial heart question for the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research, where he was well respected but also considered somewhat of an oddball for his interest in holistic medicine and the occult. Like Lindbergh, Carrel was a man of broad interests, who sought to connect the physical and spiritual worlds. It was greatly due to the influence of Dr. Carrel that Lindbergh began to take more interest in the human body, and the doctor’s death in 1944 raised spiritual concerns for Lindbergh.

John F. Condon
When Charles Lindbergh III was thought to be in the hands of kidnappers, Dr. Condon, a former school teacher and local eccentric from the Bronx, offered his services as an intermediary, an offer that the kidnappers accepted. The kidnappers gave Condon instructions on how to contact them through newspaper ads, using the pseudonym ‘‘Jafsie’’ (a form of his initials, J. F. C.). The police sent Condon to meet with a representative of the kidnappers, and they had an hour-long conversation. When he did deliver the money to the kidnappers, he talked them into taking $20,000 less than had been arranged, thinking that he was saving the Lindberghs some money. By doing this, he actually made the case more complex, because the $50 bills that were in the package that he held back would have been the easiest to trace, because the police gave him specially selected ransom money for this purpose. Condon’s eccentricities gave the defense a chance to discredit his testimony against Hauptmann, one of the kidnappers on trial.

Robert Hutchings Goddard
Goddard is the father of rocket engineering, a man whose dream of sending a ship through outer space was routinely mocked in the press as a lunatic fantasy until Lindbergh took an interest in him, convincing wealthy investors to support his work. He was the chairman of the Physics Department at Clark University, when Lindbergh read an article about his work concerning the use of gasoline and liquid nitrogen to power vessels that could reach as far as the moon. The press wrote him off as a dreamer who wanted to reach the moon, but Lindbergh realized the practical application of rocket science to aviation and urged Henry DuPont, of DuPont Chemical, to support Goddard’s research. When DuPont proved uninterested, Lindbergh went to the Carnegie Institution and finally to Daniel Guggenheim. Goddard...

(The entire section is 2,058 words.)