Size is usually the first thing that comes to mind when we ponder the great airships. In war and peace, to most people they seem bigger than life itself, bright, wondrous, sometimes dangerous apparitions that engender a religious awe. They remain the largest crafts that have ever been launched into the sky.
Tracing the history of the airship from its beginning in the nineteenth century, Robert Hedin has gathered the finest stories, descriptions, poems, music, and illustrations about what the era was like in fact and spirit, providing us with the closest thing possible to an actual journey in one of these silent behemoths. Included are vivid accounts by such legendary figures as Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, Hugo Eckener, and Alberto Santos-Dumont as well as memoirs, logs, journals, and diaries by Zeppelin commanders, crew, explorers, journalists, and survivors of ill-fated flights.
The great airships have inspired poets and writers old and new. Included here are works by such diverse writers as Robinson Jeffers, Kay Boyle, Bernard Shaw, D. H. Lawrence, Edmund Blunden, Rita Dove, Turner Cassity, Max Reger, William "Billy" Mitchell, Winston Churchill, Hayden Carruth, Richard Brautigan, and many others. There is a rich sampling of airship musical scores and lyrics, lovingly rescued from obscurity by the editor; the music constitutes a kind of recovered history and helps recapture the emotional range of the era. Rounding out the gathering, The Zeppelin Reader is illustrated with stunning photographs, advertisements, drawings, and cartoons from the glorious age of airships.