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North to the Orient by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

North to the Orient

by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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North to the Orient is a 1935 book by the American writer Anne Morrow Lindbergh. It is the account of the 1931 flight by her and her husband, Charles Lindbergh, from the United States to Japan and China, by the northern route over Canada, Alaska, and Siberia. It also documented their volunteering flights as relief efforts for the infamous Central China flood of 1931. Tingmissartoq was the name given to a Lockheed Model 8 Sirius the Lindbergh's flew on the trip
  MasseyLibrary | Mar 6, 2018 |
NORTH TO THE ORIENT, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

I found this book at the local second-hand shop, the only 'bookstore' in town. It's the original 1935 hardback edition, albeit the 9th printing, and in surprisingly good condition, from a time when book makers took pride in their work - thick paper, tight binding. The story itself is pretty straightforward, presenting Anne's memories and impressions from a long over-the-top-of-the-world flight she made with her famous husband, from late July through September of 1931. They took off from our East Coast, flying from Long Island to D.C., then up to the family home in Maine. From there across the frozen wastes of northern Canada and Alaska to the Kamchatka (in Siberia) and down to Japan and over to China. Anne documents her early anxiety about being the flight 'radio-man,' struggling with her still-new knowledge of radios, radio procedure, and Morse code, and trying to stay in touch with far-flung remote stations in places like Point Barrow, Nome, and fog-bound, mountainous northern Japan. She admits being terrified more than once during the flight. But the bulk of her narrative is about the people she meets - the Anglican Parson and the Catholic Priest in Baker Lake (Canada) who don't speak to each other in the tiny community of barely a few dozen souls. The Russians in tiny Karaginski village, exclaiming over the photos of Anne's baby. Anne's story is an intimately human story. She is always more interested in the people she meets and interacts with than she is in the technical parts of the flight or even its perhaps history-making significance. She is a gifted writer, and brings these people in isolated primitive places vividly to life.

The trip Lindbergh describes here happened barely six months before their baby was kidnapped and murdered, a case which made headlines around the world. The book was not published until 1935, yet there is no mention anywhere of their personal tragedy. The book was a bestseller however, going through multiple printings, partially, I suspect, because of that notorious case and a public hunger for more information about the Lindberghs. Anne Morrow Lindbergh was obviously not interested in feeding that hunger, only in recording her memories - good ones - of that perilous yet obviously rewarding air voyage she made with her husband in a happier time. Eighty years later, this is still a lovely and entertaining read. ( )
  TimBazzett | Aug 22, 2015 |
Lindbergh, who married Charles in 1929, describes a flight they took on a Great Circle Route from New York through Canada, Alaska, Russia, and Japan to China in 1931, flying a Lockheed low-wing monoplane called Sirius, with a 700 hp radial Cyclone engine, pontoons, and enough fuel capacity to extend its range to 2,000 miles.
She learned to send and receive Morse Code and operated the radio on board, whose antenna, a wire wound on a reel with a weighted ball on the end, was let down to trail behind the airplane, with the length adjusted for the signal’s wavelength, and reeled in when they landed.
They left on July 27, 1931 from Long Island, flew to Washington and back, then to their home base in Rockland Harbor in Maine, and then to Ottawa. Then the real trip began, to Churchill in Manitoba, Baker Lake in the Northwest Territories, and Aklavik, also in the Northwest Territories. At Baker Lake and Aklavik the settlers get one boat visit a year, and the Lindberghs are in Aklavik when it arrives; she describes the excitement. After several days there, they push on to Point Barrow, at the northern tip of Alaska. In Barrow, they are entertained with a reindeer and goose dinner, go to church on Sunday where the minister has to translate Biblical references (sheep, garners, oxen) unfamiliar to his Eskimo congregation.
They have to worry for the first time about darkness as they fly south toward Nome, since the midnight sun ends in August. But fog ahead means they have to land on the coast of Seward Peninsula. In Nome, they watch the King Island Tribe’s chief win a kayak race and see an Eskimo Wolf Dance.
Lindbergh contrasts her preconceived idea of Soviet Russia with what they actually find in Kamchatka. At the island of Karaginski, they are greeted in French by a zoölogist studying the island’s fauna. The Russians enjoy Lindbergh’s baby pictures and they feed the flyers. In Petropavlovsk there is a small fire in the government house where they are staying. Lindbergh enjoys her brief encounter with Russians.
In the Chishima archipelago of Japan, trying to reach Nemuro, the fog forces them to land. A radio operator recommends Buroton Bay behind them, but the fog has closed in and they land near Ketoi Island in the open ocean. The radio operator sends a nearby ship, the Shinshuru Maru, to assist them. Singing sailors invite them for meals, help them when there anchor is lost, and tow them to Buroton Bay when they can’t start the wet engine. Fog foils a second attempt to reach Nemuro, and they land in a lake where a friendly fisherman, his son, and his father feed them fresh fish, potatoes, and rice.
Lindbergh inserts a nice essay, “The Paper and String of Life,” which begins with a beautifully wrapped gift from Japan she received as a child, and whose theme is that “in every Japanese there was an artist” in all the details, the “paper and string” of life. There is one grimly ironic detail, a haiku about a mother whose little boy has died. Lindbergh, whose own baby boy would be killed in a kidnapping about six months later, is enchanted by the haiku and the details of the Tea Ceremony. “If only I could stay here long enough,” she writes, “I would learn to see too . . . . I would learn simile. I would I would see that a certain wet stone . . . was wet as a new-peeled pear. Then I would learn metaphor and see in my little boy “My hunter of the dragon fly.”
As they are about to leave Osaka, they find a stowaway in the baggage compartment, an unhappy teenager who thought they were on their way back to America. But they were headed to China.
Long before they reached the land, they could see the brown sediment of the Yangtze in flood. Lindbergh calls rivers the only physical features “at their best from the air,” and says “usually they are kind to fliers,” providing a sure landmark even at night.
Lindbergh remembers Nanking first as the river in flood, then as the “Purple Mountain,” and finally as the wall. She says it’s the current capital. They go out to survey the vast extent of the floods. One day Charles takes an American and a Chinese doctor with some medical supplies, but they are nearly overwhelmed by starving villagers in sampans and have to take off again.
When there is no lake to land on and the flood waters have started to recede around Hankow, Sirius has to land in the swift Yangtze. The British aircraft carrier Hermes offers to bring it on board with a harness each day. while it is being lowered on the last day before the carrier leaves, the plane slips and is damaged. The Hermes takes the plane and the Lindberghs to Shanghai, where the plane is shipped to Lockheed for repairs and the Lindberghs sail to Japan, train from the southern tip to Yokohama, and sail for America. Lindbergh speculates on the meaning of Sayonara, “of all the good-bys I have heard the most beautiful” in its straightforwardness, meaning, “since it must be so.” In the last chapter they are flying again and she thinks about the magic of flight, quite divorced from its advantages of speed, accessibility, and convenience. ( )
  michaelm42071 | Sep 5, 2009 |
Strangely disappointing. Condescending with a sort of faux poetry - almost precious. Every time I actually wanted to know more - oh! we're off on another leg!
  LadyintheLibrary | Sep 25, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0156671409, Paperback)

In 1931 Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh set off on a flight to the Orient by the Great Circle Route. The classic North to the Orient is the beautifully written account of the trip.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:43 -0400)

The Lindberghs' experiences on a flight to the Orient via the Great Circle Route in 1931.

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