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Critical Overview

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

The thoroughness of his research has led all three of the biographies written by A. Scott Berg to be respected by critics. As the Library Journal puts it in a summary review in 1999, Berg’s first two books have become ‘‘central texts in their fields,’’ and Lindbergh, his most recent effort, is a ‘‘big, thoroughly researched book [that] is a fine work of restorative storytelling.’’ Since its publication in 1998, critics have been impressed with the amount of work that went into producing Lindbergh. Some reviews have emphasized the exhaustive amount of detail about the aviator’s life that A. Scott Berg sifted through in his nine years of research, focusing on the facts he presents instead of the way they are presented. Lance Morrow in Time magazine, for instance, calls the book a ‘‘superb biography,’’ but that is the extent of his evaluation: the rest of the review talks about the aviator, not Berg’s writing style. A brief review in Booklist does talk about the quality of the work, in the glowing praise that most reviewers use when writing about the book for mass-circulation magazines: ‘‘Masterfully written and extensively researched, this beautifully balanced biography depicts one of the twentieth century’s most controversial, famous, and yet private of men.’’

More extensive reviews tend, after giving the book careful consideration, to find more to be critical about. For all of the mass of information that Berg presents, some reviewers are left wanting more. ‘‘There are no new insights into the boy flyer,’’ wrote Publishers Weekly, ‘‘no new theories about the kidnapping, but there is a chilling portrait of a man who did not seem to enjoy many of the most basic human emotions. Perhaps more attention to Lindbergh’s near-worship of the Nobel Prizewinning doctor, Alexis Carrel, would have explained more about his enigmatic character.’’ Mark Stricherz, writing in America , finds the book’s weaknesses to stem from the source of its strength: the very reason that Berg was able to work so many years with Lindbergh’s story was...

(The entire section is 669 words.)