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Jet Age: The Comet, the 707, and the Race to Shrink the World Hardcover – October 14, 2010

35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Verhovek has accomplished the near-impossible in making modern airline travel the subject of a vivid detective story. Anyone who has ever stepped onto an airplane will be interested in this tale."
-James Fallows, The Atlantic Monthly

About the Author

Sam Howe Verhovek has been a reporter for The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times for more than twenty-five years. His assignments have taken him around the globe, to riots in India, the war in Iraq, and the longest school bus ride in America. He lives in Seattle.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Avery; 1st edition (October 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781583334027
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583334027
  • ASIN: 1583334025
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,041,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Clark on October 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
If you are interested in the history of aviation and how jet transportation forever changed our world, this is the book to read...and even if you hadn't thought about it, check it out. Global air travel is now taken for granted and this book details the trials and tribulations of those who were in competition to shrink the globe by developing the first jet transport.

I took a bit different approach to reading the book, skipping to the end to read about the genesis of the book in the Epilogue. Author Sam Howe Verhovek has conducted extensive research on Boeing, de Havilland and the people who were the visionaries within those companies. He located great resources in libraries and company archives and crafted a history that is very readable. His writing skills allow the technical information on the 707 and the Comet to be interleaved with the personalities of the engneers, test pilots and executives in a way that personalizes the technical nature of the endeavor. The book is broken down into chapters that detail the efforts of both manufacturers, the aviators, the companies and the race itself, and each story is covered nicely.

There is a lot of entertainment packed into 272 pages, I highly recommend taking it along on your next flight to learn how people and planes forever changed our world.

Kent Lewis
Signal Charlie
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Terry Sunday TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Book titles can be deceptive. You might expect Sam Howe Verhovek's "Jet Age: The Comet, the 707 and the Race to Shrink the World" to be about the rivalry between Britain's de Havilland and America's Boeing aircraft companies and the first-generation commercial jet airliners that each built in the early days of the Jet Age. You would be partly right. At least some of the book covers this subject. But much of it does not.

One of the forays beyond the subjects mentioned in the title includes quite a bit of coverage about the dawn of flight. We're talking the Wright brothers here, and Louis Blériot and the Zeppelin raids on London in World War I. Interesting aviation history, to be sure, but probably a little out of scope for a relatively short book dealing with the "jet age." There's also quite a bit of material about airlines' introductions of stewardesses in the early 1930s. Again, interesting, but not really relevant to the story of the Comet vs. the 707.

Really, there's very little about the 707 at all. In particular, while Mr. Verhovek relates the well-known tale of test pilot Tex Johnston performing two barrel rolls in the 707 prototype "Dash 80" in front of thousands of spectators over Lake Washington in 1955, he does not explain WHY the maneuver was, as Tex said, "absolutely nonhazardous." In fact, in a properly performed barrel roll--and Tex's maneuver would certainly have been skillfully performed--the load factor remains nearly constant and is virtually the same as the force (one G ceiling-to-floor) experienced in straight-and-level flight. The airplane doesn't know that it's upside down!

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33 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Wesley Cosand on November 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was interesting but not the book I hoped for.

I thought it was a book on how the management and engineering teams at de Haviland and Boeing addressed the technical and business problems of building the Comet and the 707, the first jet airliners. The author spent much more time on the Comet because of its fatal flaws than on the 707 and almost no time on any of the technical issues. More was written about jets in Star Trek than engineering the 707. There was far more about aviation between the World Wars than was necessary for the story and pages were taken up with the initiation of the stewardess service.

There was no clue why a military contractor was so successful in developing this innovative plane but has now become a byword for managerial incompetence.

There was not one word about how the huge challenges of designing reliable, efficient engines were addressed.

I am not an engineer or an aviation buff but this was pretty fluffy material even for me.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Skippy on November 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As another review pointed out, this book was not at all what I expected from the title and initial reviews. Full of obvious filler, as if there was a price per word being paid, there is a disappointing lack of substance. Now I'll admit to being an aviation fan, but there is nothing on the design, testing, development of the planes involved. Little of the engineering and intrigue that had to accompany all the projects involved in actually building the machines is covered. Most of the book is focused on back story, with several cases of same tidbits being presented in different chapters (filler?). It is as if the Comet and 707 simply appeared, fully built, and there isn't anything worth covering in HOW they came to be.

If you are looking for a disposable read, mainly focused on people, then OK.

If you want real info on the planes, how they came to be, and the real impact they had then well, I'm not sure where to go, but it isn't this book. Sigh.....
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