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James May's Magnificent Machines: How men in sheds have changed our lives [Kindle Edition]

James May , Phil Dolling
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Our world has been transformed beyond recognition, particularly in the twentieth century, and so were our lives and our aspirations. Throughout JAMES MAY'S MAGNIFICENT MACHINES James May explores the iconic themes of the past hundred years: flight, space travel, television, mechanised war, medicine, computers, electronic music, skyscrapers, electronic espionage and much more. But he also reveals the hidden story behind why some inventions like the Zeppelin, the hovercraft or the Theremin struggled to make their mark. He examines the tipping points - when technologies such as the car or the internet became unstoppable - and gets up closeO�to theO�nuts and bolt of remarkable inventions. Packed with surprising statistics and intriguing facts, this is the ideal book for anyone who wants to know how stuff works and why some stuff didn't make it.

Editorial Reviews


'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.

Product Details

  • File Size: 838 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (March 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00713DMFY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #749,241 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining technology overview March 22, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable reading May 2, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Men In Sheds Changed Our Lives May 22, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"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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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book for Give Students a background of Inventions November 22, 2014
By Tommy
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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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5.0 out of 5 stars james may is awesome! October 23, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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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3.0 out of 5 stars OK - just November 19, 2013
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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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4.0 out of 5 stars Good read 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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5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant read November 5, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
James May is James May what else is there to say
Published 2 months ago by Brian Lewis
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
good book
Published 3 months ago by Gary
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Enjoyable writing with the usual dry humor thrown in.
Published 5 months ago by Rachel Greene
5.0 out of 5 stars <3 James May
After I bought this book I really second guessed myself but I actually learned quite a lot. It was easy to read and had James wonderful humor.
Published 11 months ago by Marina Simmons
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting Read
Gained a lot of fascinating information on many subjects from reading this book. I've read it twice and plan on reading more of May's books.
Published 16 months ago by Mary A. Sprinkles
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like history
If you like history this is a great book packed with facts, told in May's style well referenced. Great reading
Published 18 months ago by Clint
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read
I really enjoyed Jame's book. Short format articles that are great for an extended sit in the loo. :o) This is not just collected old articles like most of the Top Gear... Read more
Published on December 4, 2012 by Paul Blood
5.0 out of 5 stars Shed is a great place to be!
This book is a great introductory, casual commentary to human inventions and ingenuity. My friend is actually using this book as a part of curriculum for his class after I gave it... Read more
Published on November 22, 2012 by JBJB
3.0 out of 5 stars Long and rambly, but still interesting
Ostensibly written about the inventions of "great men in sheds", this book rambles on more than it should, and is less witty than I would have expected from May. Read more
Published on September 1, 2012 by Brian
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