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The Dream Machine: The Untold History of the Notorious V-22 Osprey Paperback – Bargain Price, May 17, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (May 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416562966
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416562962
  • ASIN: B0076TSW44
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,224,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

A feast for the more advanced student of military and current affairs, this is the story of the star-crossed V-22 Osprey. The hope of the U.S. Marines for preserving their vertical envelopment capability, that fact alone made the Osprey the target for the marines’ enemies in the Pentagon. It also attracted mountains of negative publicity for its accident record as the developers struggled to perfect an entirely new system for combining vertical takeoff and landing capabilities with high speed in horizontal flight. This involved technological breakthroughs—and also a number of fatal crashes. Still demanding careful maintenance, the Osprey is now in service in Iraq and has the potential to serve not only the marines but also, in time, civilian short-haul airlines. --Roland Green --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“[A] book that takes off like a novel and flies like a well-sourced historical investigation.” —Gretel C. Kovach , The San Diego Union-Tribune

“What makes The Dream Machine interesting is the light it sheds on Washington's ‘permanent government,’ the lobbyists and consultants and bureaucrats and contractors… One of the lessons of Whittle's book is that no one misses a chance to swim in the giant pool of money and power that is the nation's capital, where the defense industry is the biggest fish of all.” —Matthew Continetti, The Washington Post Book World

“A wonderful combination of personal drama, technological detective story, military history, and . . . a valuable and engrossing book that will be read for many years to come.” —James Fallows, The Atlantic Monthly

“The definitive biography of this embattled bird’s troubled development and initial deployment. Whittle weaves an engrossing tale as much about people as about this complex machine.” —Lee Gaillard, Raleigh News Observer

“Like the helicopter-airplane that tantalized generals, engineers, and pilots for decades, The Dream Machine is also an irresistible hybrid—a cross between The Soul of a New Machine and Black Hawk Down.” —Brad Matsen

“The long, costly, and bloody tale of this hybrid bird, which has taken thirty years . . . to go from blueprints to battlefield. . . . A great yarn for those in love with military gee-whiz technology and aviation.” —Mark Thompson, Washington Monthly

“A gripping tale of the development, near-death, and final redemption of one of the most controversial and fascinating aircraft ever flown.” —Air & Space magazine

More About the Author

Richard Whittle, author of Predator: The Secret Origins of The Drone Revolution and The Dream Machine: The Untold History of the Notorious V-22 Osprey, is a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and 2013-14 Alfred V. Verville Fellow at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. A contributor to Air & Space Smithsonian, the web site Breaking Defense, and other publications, Whittle covered the Pentagon and other Washington beats for The Dallas Morning News for 22 years. Earlier in his career, he covered defense and foreign policy for Congressional Quarterly magazine and was an editor at National Public Radio. He has been an interview guest on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," C-SPAN, National Public Radio and a variety of other U.S. television and radio broadcasts. Fluent in German, Rick has also been an occasional guest commentator for German and Swiss public radio. Check out his commentaries on the Osprey and the drone revolution at

Customer Reviews

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A recommended read for military aviation buffs and anyone interested in how government procurement works.
Davender Gupta
Author Richard Whittle has written a very interesting, compelling history of the birth of the tilt rotor concept and how that has evolved into the V-22 Osprey.
cpt matt
The book reads well, despite a few editing shortfalls, and through Whittle's engaging writing style, the book is hard to put down.
Michael Hirschberg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Michael Hirschberg on April 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Richard Whittle began covering the V-22 Osprey program in 1984 as the Pentagon correspondent for The Dallas Morning News. Based on hundreds of interviews, extensive research, first hand flights, and an "embedding" on the first Osprey combat tour in Iraq, Whittle's book, The Dream Machine: The Untold History of the Notorious V-22 Osprey provides impressive insight into the internal and external politics of fielding the Marine Corps' "Number one aviation priority."

If you are looking for a technical discussion of the V-22, or a critical assessment of its combat capabilities, or cost-benefit analyses to a conventional helicopter, this book is not for you. Rather, this book is for members of the general public who automatically associate words like "death trap" and "widow maker" with the Osprey.

Neither unrealistically extolling the aircraft's virtues nor carping on capabilities for which it was never designed, the story focuses on the struggles to convince the Army, Navy and Marine Corps that tiltrotor technology was mature enough for development, to design an aircraft to meet the overly-constrained JVX government specification, to maintain support and funding within the Department of Defense and Congress for three decades, and to survive the tragic crashes in 1992 and 2000. Indeed, Whittle has written the first in-depth look at the history of the Osprey that tries to cut through the hype and the hysteria that has surrounded the V-22 for over a quarter century.

Written in a journalistic style, the book covers much of the history of the development of the aircraft, and follows the careers of several key individuals.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Bernie Lomax on July 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Since most of the reviews so far seem to be from people with a vested interest in the aircraft itself, I thought it appropriate to include one from somebody on the other side of the aisle. My brother was one of the Marines in the Marana crash so this aircraft has been a major part of my life for the last 10 years. That being said I think it is important to remember that this is a review of the book, not our personal opinions of the Osprey itself.

I personally think the book is well written and reminiscent of Jon Krakauer's style. At times it was a bit wordy and I felt he could have tightened it up, but factually the book is very well researched and laid out. I don't know that I would go so far as to say it was "completely unbiased" but I think overall the author does a pretty good job staying neutral.

Regardless of your opinion on the Osprey program going forward, I think this is a good representation of the history to this point. There has been a lot of media propaganda from both sides and this book effectively cuts through most of that to get the story across. I would recommend reading it but be warned, the in depth detail of the crashes can be pretty intense to anyone with connections to the victims.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By M. Hodies on May 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a good read for anybody who spent some time working on this program in any capacity or for anyone that truly enjoys how aviation comes together (or perhaps how it cannot come together). As someone who worked on this program for several years, it was a great trip down memory lane. I was surprised to see how well insulated I was from the politics, and ego battles going on in senior management with respect to the design of the V-22. The old adage of too many cooks spoiling the soup is incredibly applicable to development of the Osprey. I should not be amazed (but I was anyhow) at the the number of design decisions where the VP/Director with 35 years of experience trumps a great engineer with 25 years of experience just because the VP/director has a big ego and wants to put his stamp on the program. There are a number of other power brokers from both the contractor and customer sides who also make unilateral decisions in the areas of requirements definition and budgeting. I sure hope weapon systems are developed a bit better nowadays....for the sake of my tax dollars.

Whittle's characterizations of the engineers and the facts seem to be fairly accurate. He did a good amount of research by interviewing a lot of the key folks who made an impact on the program. The book starts out a bit slow but once the XV-15 comes along, it starts to become very fascinating and revealing.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bob Ormiston on September 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As a life-long aviation enthusiast and rotorcraft researcher, I was attracted to this book as soon as I learned of it. Since I have a particular interest in tilt rotors and the V-22, I knew I'd read it as soon as it became available no matter how accurate or well written it might be. Having read it, I can say it turned out to exceed any expectations I may have had for it. In fact, it is an outstanding work in the broadest terms - it accurately captures the technical complexity and significance of tilt rotor development as well as many other fascinating dimensions of the story involving the aerospace industry, the military, the engineers and test pilots, and much more. Although I am quite familiar with the subject, the author managed to pull together a decades-long story in a way that improved my own perspective. Despite the convoluted and controversial history of the V-22 program, the author has achieved, in my opinion, a degree of accuracy and balance that is a quite remarkable accomplishment. I often find fault with many accounts of aerospace material familiar to me, so, in this regard, Whittle's treatment stands out.

In addition to a history of the V-22 development, the book is absorbing, suspenseful, and fast-paced - a well-told story. The author brings key participants to life, recreating the unique and often colorful personalities of engineers, program managers, test pilots, and others. I've known a few of these individuals, and I can say that the author's characterizations invariably rang true for me. And for anyone fascinated by the high-stakes risks of experimental flight testing, the author's accounts are some of the most suspenseful and gripping I have ever read. Needless to say, I'm enthusiastic about the book, and have recommended it to all of my friends.
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