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The American Experience
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DAVID McCULLOUGH, Host:. Hello. I'm David McCullough. Welcome to Showcase Week and the American Experience special presentation of "Lindbergh." He was a phenomenon of the 1920's, like bathtub gin and Gershwin. And in lots of ways he was just like the heroes of old. He was brave and handsome. Like David facing Goliath, he went forth alone. Like Daniel Boone or Lewis and Clark, he was an authentic American pathfinder.

But Charles A. Lindbergh was something else, too, a new kind of hero. Airplanes were the future and Lindbergh not only flew the Atlantic alone, but with his wife as co-pilot, he opened new routes to Asia, Africa and Latin America, flying longer and farther than anyone. "Lindbergh" is the story of one of the most celebrated figures of the century and of a man more complicated and contradictory than often portrayed: a crowd-pleaser who craved seclusion, the man who made the Atlantic Ocean seem small in 1927 and who so wrongly thought we could hide behind it in 1941.

"He was only a pilot," some say, yet he wrote beautifully, won the Pulitzer Prize. He was so glamorous, so modest, so Midwestern American. And yet, he seemed to admire the Nazis and in some of the things he said, he sounded very un-American, indeed. In his last crusade, ahead of the crowd, he pleaded for reason and sanity in how we treat the natural world. For Lindbergh, machines were the future no longer.

And for all that has been written and said about him, he remains, in many ways, a mystery.

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