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Thorny Topics with Reeve Lindbergh & Dr. Frances Levine

Season four of the Lindberghs Podcast is made possible by:

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Listen to this episode here, or find The Lindberghs on any podcast player such as Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

About this Episode

“In the case of my grandparents [Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh], there are the lovers and the haters. A lot of the hatred seems almost instinctive, and some of it is based in fact and some of it just isn’t”.

~Reeve Lindbergh, daughter of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Erik here: As a Lindbergh I am regularly reminded of the lovers and haters, but what exactly are they referring to? I ask, because in today’s culture many perceptions are spoken as absolutes with no room for nuance or context, when in reality, the truth is complex. It’s because of these Lindbergh legacy thorny topics that Lyn and I bring you his episode with two of the foremost experts on Lindbergh history. My Aunt Reeve, the daughter of Charles Lindbergh and Dr. Francis Levine the president and CEO of the Missouri historical society.

In this episode Dr. Francis Levine is deep and thoughtful when she speaks about these issues from a history museum director’s point of view, while her anthropologist training uncovers meaningful context. My dearest Aunty Reeve brings her childhood memories and the wisdom gained by her exposure to the thornier side of our family legacy. Together they bring clarity to many of the Lindbergh legacy topics that simply don’t fit into a Tweet.

Facts are often skewed in the eye of the beholder. One recent example of contorted Lindbergh mythology is Phillip Roth’s alternate history-novel The Plot Against America. In this work of fiction we imagine a different history with my Grandfather painted as the anti-hero. I jokingly refer to it as The Plot Against the Lindbergh’s. The book never claims to be based on facts, in fact the book and the HBO mini-series overtly call out that this isn’t real history or real facts, but unfortunately the work of fiction still results in magnifying criticism that stirs and deepens the hatred in the haters.

I find this magnificently ironic, as hatred and bigotry are exactly what the haters are purportedly railing against.

What can I do when faced with a hater?

I have found that the only reasonable response is to continue living my life with love and empathy. When I practice listening with an intention to learn, my hope is that people will see a human being who is enthusiastic, goofy, and sometimes awkward. A man who is terrified of failure but accustomed to it. An entrepreneur who has tasted just enough success to keep him driving forward in search of audacious goals. A grandson who is embarrassed by ancestral gaffs but willing to learn and grow from them. And an eternal optimist who respects the bright side of my grandfather’s legacy and is not afraid to use it to leverage a positive future for the planet.

I only hope that future generations will be able to see past the flaws in my character, priorities, and execution and know that at least I gave a damn and tried hard. I can live with that.


Our Favorite Quotes from this Episode

It's hard to be a historian or a scientist in these times when we don't seem to have a concept of the burden of evidence or even observation. It's all about gut reactions.


In the case of my parents, there are the lovers and there are the haters. A lot of the hatred seems almost instinctive and some of it is based on fact and some of it just isn't. and some of the things that happened to my dear brother, Eriks's father [Jon Lindbergh] who died very recently, when he was very, very, young, one would have thought that all sympathy would have been accorded to the the child, but they got hate mail, they got death threats. It was extraordinary. This is part of why they left the country for a while because the degree of attention and the polarized aspects of the attention was just too much to raise a family in. This lingers. The adoration and the hatred still continues today. You just have to flow with it.


This is the first time in history when humanity has had access to bits and pieces of information without any responsibility to considering the full picture. Add the fact that we as a culture d