Richard David Bach (born 23 June 1936) is an American writer. He is widely known as the author of the hugely popular 1970s best-sellers Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, and others. His books espouse his philosophy that our apparent physical limits and mortality are merely appearance. He claims to be a direct descendant of Johann Sebastian Bach. He is noted for his love of flying and for his books related to air flight and flying in a metaphorical context. He has pursued flying as a hobby since the age of 17.
Life and work
Bach was born at Oak Park, Illinois.
He attended Long Beach State College in 1955. He has authored numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1970), Illusions (1977), One (1989), and Out of My Mind (1999). Most of his books have been semi-autobiographical, using actual or fictionalized events from his life to illustrate his philosophy.
He served in the Navy Reserve, then later in the New Jersey Air National Guard's 108th Fighter Wing, 141st Fighter Squadron (USAF) as a F-84F pilot. Afterwards, he worked a variety of jobs, including technical writer for Douglas Aircraft and contributing editor for Flying magazine. He served in the USAF reserve deployed in France in 1960. He later became a barnstormer. Most of his books involve flight in some way, from the early stories which are straightforwardly about flying aircraft, to Stranger to the Ground, his first book, to his later works, in which he used flight as a philosophical metaphor.
In 1970, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a story about a seagull who flew for the love of flying rather than merely to catch food, was published by Macmillan Publishers after the manuscript was turned down by many other publishers. The book, which included unique photos of seagulls in flight by photographer Russell Munson, became a number-one bestseller. The book contained fewer than 10,000 words, yet it broke all hardcover sales records since Gone with the Wind. It sold more than 1,000,000 copies in 1972 alone. The surprise success of the book was widely reported in the media in the early 1970s.
During the summer of 1970 Bach, and his friend Chris Cagle, travelled to Ireland where they participated in flying sequences supporting Roger Corman's film Von Richthofen and Brown. Here they flew a variety of World War One aircraft of the Blue Max collection owned by ex-RCAF pilot Lynn Garrison. Bach originally met Garrison when he wrote articles for AVIAN, Lynn Garrison's aviation publication.
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