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James May's Magnificent Machines: How Men in Sheds Have Changed Our Lives Paperback – November 1, 2008

19 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0340950920 ISBN-10: 0340950927

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James May's Magnificent Machines: How Men in Sheds Have Changed Our Lives + James May's Man Lab: The Book of Usefulness + On the Edge: My Story
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Editorial Reviews

Review

'James May is the best thing ever to come out of Top Gear' Radio Times 'Smart, sharply written' Guardian 'The most loveable of the Top Gear presenting trio ... there's a sharp and interesting mind under the corduroy. Fascinating.' Nottingham Evening Post

About the Author

James May is a writer, broadcaster, and the cohost of Top Gear. His previous books include May on Motors, Notes from the Hard Shoulder, and Oz and James’s Big Wine Adventure.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (November 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340950927
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340950920
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #795,693 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Aaron Headly on March 22, 2008
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Fans of James May's work on Top Gear will not be disappointed with this collection of essays on many of the major technological advances of the twentieth century.

There are some obscure (and entertaining) details within, but serious tech geeks won't encounter much they didn't already know. As a serious tech geek myself, that didn't keep me from enjoying it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Philippa on May 2, 2008
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The 20th century summed up as a series of important inventions and developments. It's an interesting and entertaining read, and May writes with wit and charm (full disclosure, I have a bit of a crush going here, so I could be slightly biased! And who knows, maybe the coauthor wrote the best bits). It's not meant to be the definitive work on the century, I imagine, but it's a great look at where lots of our important things came from, and where they went. You'll come away knowing a little more about any number of things, from motorcycles to guitars (and the scourge of the ukelele). One or two of the chapters drag a bit with the recital of purely technical information, but overall, it's pretty engaging.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K. Alphs on May 22, 2009
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"James May's Magnificent Machines: How Men In Sheds Changed Our Lives" is authored by the co-host of the popular BBC television show "Top Gear" and award winning British journalist, James May. May takes the reader on a journey through the 20th Century to explore how "men in sheds" came to pioneer technology in the fields of aviation, cars, television, computers, space travel, architechture, electricity, the horseless carriage, radio, music, motorbikes, fashion, tanks, espionage, and health care. The author also includes "a section for anoraks" and "further reading" which contain facts and further resources for exploring the technological wonders of the 20th Century.
May's book is a great introduction to the study of "men in sheds" and how their inventions definitely changed our lives and shaped the world in which we live.
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James May is a great TV presenter and covers many technological achievements in this book in an interesting way. If you are taking a class on invention, teaching one as I do, or just interested in some of the major achievements in technological history, this book covers most of it. It doesn't go into great detail, but does give a good back story. Mr. May does write as if you can see him gesture and make facial expressions, so sometimes his prose is lacking a dimension of physical expression.

There is a DVD that follows along with the book, and I am sure it is just as good as the book.

The one thing that irks me is the way the publisher arranged the photos. They are arranged in sections and not necessarily with the chapters they relate to. This isn't a big deal, but if were to use it with a class then I know I would have some student complaining. But all students complain about something.

This book is definitily on a 8th grade reading level, which is not to say the writing is low brow. The writing is just accessible by almost anyone.
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james may is perhaps the person with the most depth among the three presenter in top gear. and he shows his depth here in his book. i have to confess that i am not a strong reader and that i get bored easily with books, but i did find myself laughing, and completely hooked in reading this book from cover to cover. every free time i find, i just read this book. if you are the sort of person who is intrigued by the history of a lot of machines that we now take for granted, this is a great book that will deliver you the facts in the most amusing way.
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By Jerome Fink on November 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
James's writing is OK, but a bit slow. I guess thats why they call him Capt. Slow. Jeremy and Richard write much funnier reads
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By Jmsblckhll on March 15, 2013
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A very interesting work if you enjoy scientific history. Those not familiar with James May's dry sense of humor might not be as entertained.
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By Alan L. Trask on November 5, 2012
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This book is just a nice, relaxing tome of James May's news paper columns that give a bit more information about the development of vehicles and other machines that some people would rather you not know.
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