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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all it is still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
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The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed Paperback – September 1, 1992

3.9 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Since the explosion of the Hindenburg in Lakehurst, New Jersey, energy-efficient, lighter-than-air ships have given way to gas-guzzling jet aircraft. But in the 1960s, an unusual band of inventors, engineers and investors, again in New Jersey, created the Aereon, a strange, wingless hybrid airplane/dirigible. The Aereon--the Deltoid Pumpkin Seed-- promised to be a safe workhorse of the skies, capable of carrying the payload of entire freight trains with minimal cost.

In this exquisitely crafted tale of back-to-the-drawing-board perseverance, McPhee tells the story not only of the Aereon, but of any product development team. He astutely delineates the team members' personalities and interactions, delves back in time to the origins of lighter-than-air craft and the history of propellers, and in the end, makes us wonder why this promising technology hasn't been perfected. Like Aramis: Or the Love of Technology, this is a splendid book about a potentially superior aircraft which has yet to be adopted.

Review

“It's a book Leonardo da Vinci would have warmed to, a set of experiments he's have changed.” ―Paul West, The Washington Post

“What gives [McPhee's] writing its powerful fascination is the strange, raw quality of fact: it all really happened, just the way . . . McPhee watches so intently that the Aereon and its people become real and important to the reader.” ―John Skow, Los Angeles Times

“McPhee has a genius for writing about unusual people whose activities border on the eccentric, and the Aereon project abounded with them. His engrossing account can be read at a sitting.” ―Donald R. Morris, The Houston Post

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 8th Printing edition (September 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374516359
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374516352
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,205,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is the first McPhee book I ever read-- way back when it first came out. How well I remember it! How many years I have continued to look for news of the needed technology for large scale commercial use of lighter than air craft finally being mastered (and we still seem on the brink of making it work). A bookstore clerk had told me as I picked up the book, "That is one strange book. We do not know where to put it. Should it be in history, science, biography, reference, the technology section on air craft, business? No place seems quite right." I knew I would read more books by McPhee after this exquisite find, but I did not expect the next one to be on-- oranges! What a book The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed is; what a writer McPhee is. His books always leave you with the feeling that you now have a special insight into something out of the ordinary. And indeed you do.
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Format: Paperback
I am an unabashed fan of John McPhee, and believe him to be one of the todays's best non-fiction writers. _The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed_ does nothing but reinforce my impression.
I knew very little about 'lighter-than-air' history or technology before reading _Pumpkin Seed_, but McPhee assumes no prior knowledge. Indeed, one of the things I like best about McPhee is his ability to explain topics of a complex nature to a lay audience.
The story's 'characters' are exquisitely developed, and their interactions with each other are sometimes tragic, often hillarious. A number of them would make fascinating subjects for biographies in their own right.
If you have any interest in avaiation history, or just enjoy reading a well-crafted non-fiction work, I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback
I remember when, years ago, long before I retired, a guy came into the library and wanted some really obscure information on Ferris Wheels. I got to talking with him and over the years we became friends. He had some kind of menial job, working at KFC or something, but he was absolutely obsessed with Ferris Wheels and knew just about everything you can imagine about their history and how they work. He was thrilled when we managed to dig up the arcane material he sought.

I’ve always secretly admired people like that. They have a singular, driven purpose and interest that I lack. I’m interested in many, many things, but rarely obsessed with one item alone at that depth, so I’ve had a bazillion hobbies.

I like John McPhee who so engagingly writes about these personalities. We have William Miller, a theology maven, who has sunk all his money and time into the development of a bizarre little craft, neither airship nor airplane; John Kukon, model builder extraodinaire who had won a ridiculous number of model plane speed records, one using a fuel of his own design that was so powerful it broke the world speed record and couldn’t be shut off, the plane flew for six miles; and how Aereon, the company they built, fell apart.

For whatever reason, the obsession with airships resurfaces every few years. Just read Popular Mechanics for a periodic revival of interest as a way to haul huge loads cheaply over undeveloped wilderness. For Drew and Miller, the interest was tinged with religious fervor, but they sacrificed a great deal for their dream.

Wonderful story, laced with history, (the story of Andrew Solomons parallels that in John Toland’s The Great Dirigibles.) McPhee always manages to take something apparently mundane and turn it into a fascinating essay about people and their relationship to the world around them.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great story of a man and his quest. Warning -- you might not like the ending.

A friend loaned me this book back in the eighties and I've never forgotten it. For a over a decade I tried to find a copy just to add it to my library. So imagine my delight when I found this on Amazon!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I will read anything by McPhee. He is amazing in his ability to make the details of whatever is in his world right now interesting and understandable
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By Jesse on October 27, 2014
Format: Paperback
Every John McPhee book is required reading for the inquisitive mind.
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