Please join us when author/journalist Keith O'Brien returns to Octavia Books to present and sign his compelling new book, FLY GIRLS: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History.
The untold story of five women who fought to compete against men in the high-stakes national air races of the 1920s and 1930s — and won
Between the world wars, no sport was more popular, or more dangerous, than airplane racing. Thousands of fans flocked to multi-day events, and cities vied with one another to host them. The pilots themselves were hailed as dashing heroes who cheerfully stared death in the face. Well, the men were hailed. Female pilots were more often ridiculed than praised for what the press portrayed as silly efforts to horn in on a manly, and deadly, pursuit. Fly Girls recounts how a cadre of women banded together to break the original glass ceiling: the entrenched prejudice that conspired to keep them out of the sky.
O’Brien weaves together the stories of five remarkable women: Florence Klingensmith, a high-school dropout who worked for a dry cleaner in Fargo, North Dakota; Ruth Elder, an Alabama divorcee; Amelia Earhart, the most famous, but not necessarily the most skilled; Ruth Nichols, who chafed at the constraints of her blue-blood family’s expectations; and Louise Thaden, the mother of two young kids who got her start selling coal in Wichita. Together, they fought for the chance to race against the men — and in 1936 one of them would triumph in the toughest race of all.
Like Hidden Figures and Girls of Atomic City, Fly Girls celebrates a little-known slice of history in which tenacious, trail-blazing women braved all obstacles to achieve greatness.
The New York Times Book Review has hailed Keith O’Brien for his “keen reportorial eye” and “lyrical” writing style. He has written two books, been a finalist for the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sportswriting, and contributed to National Public Radio for more than a decade.
O’Brien’s radio stories have appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition, as well as Marketplace, Here & Now, Only a Game, and This American Life. He has also written for The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, USA Today, Politico, Slate, Esquire.com, and the Oxford American, among others.
He is a former staff writer for both The Boston Globe and the The Times-Picayune. As a newspaper reporter, he won multiple awards, including the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. He was born in Cincinnati and graduated from Northwestern University. Formerly residents of our Octavia Books neighborhood, he, his wife and two children now live in New Hampshire.
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
“Exhilarating.” —New York Times Book Review
“Keith O’Brien has brought these women—mostly long-hidden and forgotten—back into the light where they belong.