Big Read picks ‘The Wright Brothers’

The tallies have been counted: Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough’s book on Dayton’s most famous siblings — Wilbur and Orville Wright — has been selected for the next Big Read.

Of the 2,193 online votes, more than 46 percent of them were cast for “The Wright Brothers,” which has already been a New York Times No. 1 bestseller.


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McCullough’s book about the inventors of powered flight beat out area science fiction writer John Scalzi’s “Lock In” by 529 votes. The other two books in the running were “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” by Atul Gawande and “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Throughout the Miami Valley, “The Wright Brothers” will be read at schools, libraries, book groups and other venues during the Big Read community reading project, March 12-April 16, 2017. The last day of the project falls on the 150th anniversary of Wilbur Wright’s birthday.

“I believe the community overwhelmingly chose this book to be the next Big Read because it appeals to us on a personal level,” said Ben Murphy, chair of the Big Read committee. “Dayton is clearly proud of its aviation history and our connection to the Wright Brothers.”


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McCullough has been collaborating with Tom Hanks on an HBO miniseries based on “The Wright Brothers," and his last public appearance in Dayton was April 19, in conjunction with Wright State University's newly renovated Creative Arts Center, which includes the Tom Hanks Center of Motion Pictures. While the academy-award winning actor/producer was meeting with WSU theater students, McCullough spent time during his visit conducting a master class for history students.

“History isn’t just about politics and war. It also involves everything to do with human creativity,” McCullough told the students. “I think that the Wright brothers are a lesson in history if ever there was.”

A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, McCullough said that the inventors of powered flight persisted through difficulty. He also said to understand the Wright brothers, it’s important to study their father, Milton Wright, as well as their sister, Katherine. “Nothing is quite like how you’re brought up at home,” McCullough said.

McCullough described the Dayton area as “thrilling historical ground.”

“The Wright Brothers” will be available at The Dayton Metro Library in all formats, including large print, eBook and audio book.

For more information on The Big Read, visit

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