Autobiography of Values

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by Charles A. Lindbergh

Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 81 potographs, $12.95

When Charles Lindbergh realized he was dying in 1974, he asked his publisher, William Jovanovich, to act as editor for the autobiography he wouldn’t be able to finish. Jovanovich, with the help of Judith A. Schiff, has now assembled the mass of incidents, thoughts, and judgments Lindbergh had been jotting down, sifting, and revising for almost twenty years.

It is a fascinating book. Lindbergh’s passion for science and technology clashed constantly with his surprising yearning for the primitive. All his life he promoted aviation, believing that (lying would benefit mankind, but he lived to experience the frightening detachment of dropping bombs from planes on human beings.

As a reporter and observer, Lindbergh is eloquent. The reader is riveted when he tells of the kidnapping of his son. Lindbergh’s discussion of how he selected his wife and avoided the press long enough to woo her is amusing. And there is an unforgettable account of a visit after World War II to an underground German rocket plant with its own crematorium for slave laborers who had been worked to death. As a philosopher, Lindbergh sometimes seems an innocent, and there is nothing here to answer the charges of anti-Semitism to which he laid himself open before the Second World War. But in this book a complicated American hero shows us the contradictory and often unhappy processes of his mind.