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Against the Odds: An Autobiography Hardcover – April 17, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-1587991707 ISBN-10: 1587991705 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Texere; 2 edition (April 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587991705
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587991707
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,158,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

James Dyson is an inventor and the founder of Dyson Appliances. He invented the Dual Cyclone, the country¿s biggest selling vacuum cleaner. He is also a board member of the Design Council. He lives in Malmesbury, Wiltshire.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 24 customer reviews
This book should be required reading at all business schools.
John C. Dunbar
Even if the book holds no relevance to what you do or want to do you can't help but feel inspired to do something after reading this.
aks001
Being interested in innovation and entrepreneurship I was looking forward to reading this book, and I was not disappointed at all.
E. M. WOLERY

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Donald B. Siano on October 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The story told here, an autobiography, is one of the most inspiring that I've read in a long time. Dyson is an inventor and industrial designer who has taken his bagless vacuum cleaner from the garage to a huge enterprise. I loved this story and wound up really admiring the man. His distinctive approach to industrial design, his perseverance and gutsy self confidence enabled him to show that even in the world of huge multinationals, with all their central research laboratories, there are still opportunities for the lone inventor to make it, big-time.

I especially enjoyed the part about the early development of the machine, in which he made something like one version per day for over three years, varying things one at a time, measuring everything to exhaustion, all the while sinking further and further into debt. Edisonian it was, but sometimes that is the only way--the quest for the quick breakthrough emphasized by modern industrial managers can be a real obstacle to progress. I've seen it at work first-hand.

The book is rather lavishly produced with ten pages of glossy photos, many of them in color, supplemented by many sketches and drawings. The big margins and the attractive typeface on acid-free paper combine to make a very pretty book, worth owning.

This is the sort of book that once you put it down, you feel better about the world, the striving of man-the-builder, and realize that, even in England, things can get better.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By John C. Dunbar on January 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great story of a stubborn, possibly cantankerous, designer turned manufacturing entreprenur. It was a real page-turner and I couldn't put it down.

This Brit took on the vacuum sweeper industry worldwide and now is introducing washing machines that may be technologically superior -- just like his sweepers. He has invented and introduced several products to the world.

Here's what you can get from this book:

1) A humorous story of entrepreneurial struggle and then success,

2) Dyson's rules for product design,

3) Dyson's rules for start-ups for manufacturing companies,

4) Some great words to improve your vocabulary (he's British remember),

5) Lessons in patents and the lengths to which you will have to defend them,

6) How entrenched product manufacturers will buy companies to squelch a superior technology to keep it off the market,

7) How your wayward son who goes off to study art may actually end up richer than you.

8) How to protect yourself from unscrupulous competitors (are there any other kind?)

Most important of all are his rules for design and for startups.

His basic rule for coming up with new products goes like this:

Find a durable consumer product that every household buys. Find out what bugs people about this product. Use technology to dramatically improve its performance -- preferably find the technology in other industries. Look for new materials providing superior durability. Prototype, prototype, prototype. Test, test, test. Then design outward for style and ergonomics (Form follows function.) Don't listen to others. Don't hire consultants. Market and manufacture it yourself.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAME on December 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book is subtitled "an autobiography," but it isn't really about James Dyson, the man. It is about James Dyson, the inventor and designer who conquered the vacuum cleaner market. The difference? Dyson includes everything that might explain his success as an inventor, but gives only limited attention to his personal or interior life. Dyson briefly mentions some crucial points, like the strain his ongoing travels put on his marriage, or his wonderment at his companies' many lawsuits, but if you're seeking a man's inside emotional story, this isn't it. However, if you're looking for an exciting account of an inventor who proceeds, as Dyson puts it, in an Edisonian fashion, read this book. We recommend it to anyone engaged in design, engineering, marketing or innovation. The stories it contains, especially the descriptions of inspiration or frustration - are refreshing in this theoretical age, as is his advice on creating and marketing innovative products. Dyson's book proves that a vital place still exists for individual vision and old-fashioned perseverance.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By vacuums106@webtv.net on November 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover
James Dyson is one of only two men ever honored with having the vacuum cleaner they invented named after them. James Kirby and James Dyson Jim Kirby did not work for the Kirby Company - so the Kirby vacuum was not really his. Mr. Dyson designed new technology, perfected it, manufactured it, and successfully sells it all over the world. This book details the struggles of the 'average' man who has a brilliant idea and is constantly knocked down with every turn. That the Dyson vacuum exists at all is a miracle, as this book clearly illustrates. Mr. Dyson's personal battles to see his invention brought to life are fascinating and horrifying at the same time. How could one man survive so much rejection and yet triumph in the end? This book has all the elements necessary for transformation into a wonderful movie. A loveable lead character, constant uphill battles for justice, and a satisfying ending that will make you want to know more about this brilliant and wonderful man who has changed the way we look at cleaning our homes. For the first time in the 100 years of the vacuum cleaner, it finally works the way it should. Without a Bag.
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