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Book details
  • SubGenre:Adventurers & Explorers
  • Language:English
  • Pages:588
  • Paperback ISBN:9781098392611

My Compass and Anchor to Windward

A Story of Love, Imagination and Adventure

by Eleanor Byrd

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My Compass and Anchor to Windward is the real-life story of Admiral Richard E. Byrd and his wife Marie Ames from the time they met at 8-years old until he died in 1957 recounted by their granddaughter through a collection of private letters, family stories, and archives of information. 

It was 1896 when Richard (Dick) Byrd and Marie Ames met. They were 8-years-old; she was from Boston, MA., and he, from Winchester, VA. Even then, the future Admiral was a dreamer and risk-taker with a rascally personality and adventuresome spirit, reminiscent of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. 

Living with the unknown diagnosis of ADHD, Dick was described by his father for having "foolish and reckless deviltry," which led to many thrilling adventures including joining a posse in the Philippines at 13, earning his pilot license (despite the danger at the time) and becoming the first to fly over the north AND south pole, and surviving carbon monoxide poisoning under the ice in the Antarctic.

Marie's mother had opposed their marriage fearing Dick would meet his end sooner rather than later but exhibited more courage than one could imagine and proved that she was "his compass and anchor to windward." She managed to raise four children during the Depression Era, keeping them safe despite threats during the Lindbergh kidnappings. On top of her dedication to her family, she contributed much to Dick's success as well through her diligence in managing his trips and expeditions which led to three ticker-tape parades, over 100 medals, and more during their life.

Here, you will find two fascinating, strong-willed, and delightful people; their love and respect for each other enduring due to their acceptance of each other's strengths, weaknesses, and trust, as well as their delightful senses of humor, that saw them through thick and thin.
About the author
Eleanor Byrd is the granddaughter of Admiral Richard and Marie Byrd. Born in Philadelphia, she now lives in Lexington, VA. Eleanor spent her summers in Maine at Wickyup with her grandparents and cousins, enjoying many adventures, pranks and tomfoolery. Today, the 3rd, 4th and 5th generations still enjoy Wickyup and look forward each year in carrying on the tradition of well thought out shenanigans. Eleanor is a graduate of Simmons College in Boston with a bachelor's degree in business management and a graduate of the Morven Park International Equestrian Institute in Leesburg, Virginia. Eleanor was an avid competition horse rider and has 45 years of experience as a trainer and instructor. She still rides but in a very casual way. Eleanor's civic support work included board membership and project management for Crossroads Academy in Lyme, New Hampshire, and fundraising management for various community outreach programs. She is the author of the mystery "Breath Work".

Book Reviews

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Manhattan Book Review My Compass and Anchor to Windward By Eleanor Byrd Self Published, $8.99, 652 pages, Format: eBook Star Rating: 5 / 5 My Compass and Anchor to Windward details the great accomplishments and life of Admiral Richard E. Byrd, who received the highest honor for valor given by the United States and over one hundred medals before passing away in 1957. Growing up, Richard was a thrill-seeker with a big heart as he took on several daunting, daredevil challenges. His adventurous spirit led him to become the first person to fly over the north and south pole attaining several other notable achievements. 1896 saw the birth of a friendship that developed into a beautiful love story and a marriage that lasted until Richard's demise. Richard from Winchester, VA first met Marie Ames from Boston, MA when they were both eight. Eventually, they got married and birthed and raised four children while facing unwelcome attention from the public and long days of Richard's absence from home, who went on various missions in different parts of the world. Despite all these challenges, Richard endeavored to bring joy and camaraderie to his family, friends, and colleagues with pranks, jokes, and positive messages. The world has Richard to thank for choosing the unconventional route and not caving into his father's desire for him to be either a businessman or a politician. His story is a lesson for parents who try to force their personal dreams on their children to let them choose their own path and grow at their pace. I was deeply touched by Marie's patience and support as she stayed with her husband despite his decision to embark on missions that took him away from home for as long as two years. The family's efforts to be safe while experiencing attacks from fans and the press reveal how being famous looks better from afar than in reality. A considerable part of the time I spent reading the book was allotted to bookmarking the protagonist's profound words of advice as they clearly come from a deep-thinking, philosophical, and intelligent mind. Eleanor Byrd is such a great storyteller as she narrates a compelling tale that balances captivating events, important information about her grandfather and his activities, and mind-blowing insights about marriage, parenthood, earth's preservation, fame, and more. Eleanor Byrd presents grandiose storytelling that raises the bar for biographers and all nonfiction storytellers as the story's positive energy is mightily contagious and assimilating the book's information proves to be such an effortless task. Since My Compass and Anchor to Windward is one of the most original, outstanding, and deeply engaging memoirs I have come across, I recommend it to all history, philosophy, biography, and geography fans out there. Read more
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