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Kelly: More Than My Share of It All Paperback – December 17, 1989
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“Reads like the autobiography of the American dream. . . A readable collection of the people and influences that touched his life and remarkable career. Highly recommended.”—Library Journal
“The highly objective autobiography of one of the real giants of the aerospace world, . . . written so clearly that the average person cannot only understand it but gets caught up in it.”—Aerospace Historian
“Fast-paced, very readable, and technically interesting. It covers a fifty-year span of American aviation without being a history book. . . What makes this book so valuable is Mr. Johnson's exposition of the mind-set to find the simplest, least expensive fix to each technological problem. . . . Recommended for all harried technologists and defense planners, it will encourage one's faith that a better way is possible.”—H. Lawrence Elman, National Defense
“A good look at a fascinating man who has led, and who continues to lead, a perfectly charmed life."—Air Force
About the Author
Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson was an aviation engineer best known for his work on the Lockheed U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird planes.
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Top Customer Reviews
Kelly, the book, offers perhaps a more important gift to those who follow. Looking at his technical achievements is like driving down the highway at 120 staring out the side window at the double yellow line. You get the sensation but no useful guidance.
The gift of the book is that it sets forth in simple terms the vision and principles that led to these incredible achievements. Kelly focused on simplicity - simplicity in mission statement, simplicity in concept, simplicity in leadership and simplicity in execution. Of course brilliant engineering was also the order of the day.
We live in a business world increasingly dominated by individuals holding advanced degrees in business management. I was part of the process, spending a number of years as adjunct faculty in a leading MBA program. The challenge in business, and politics, is not the lack of sophistication in our analytical techniques, but rather in our leadership, ethics, vision and communication. Kelly not only had these virtues, but left a priceless journal of his voyage through some of the greatest achievements of the 20'th Century.
For those with little interest in aircraft or technology, the book offers insights on how to overcome complex challenges in remarkably short periods of time and at a fraction of the accepted cost levels. For that alone the book is a gift to future generations if they are willing to consider the wisdom. In one page Kelly sets out his "rules" of project management which should be read by every student of science, engineering, business or politics.
The message of the book is both timeless history and the secrets of the ethical achievement of that which 99.9% of the experts deemed impossible. Now is a good time to locate a few used copies in hardcover for future generations.
UPDATE - After writing this review I checked the availability of used hardcover editions - around $500 which says something about the value of the book.
It seems tempting to compare between this book and Ben Rich's "Skunk Works" book. I must say that Ben Rich's book is a better choice in my opinion. Throughout his book he admires Kelly capabilities and achievements (it is interesting that Ben is hardly mentioned in Kelly's book), and provides lots of details, not just technical, on the major projects he was involved in. "Testimonies" from colleagues are included in Ben's book, describing the common practice and the state of mind of the people involved in these projects those days.Taking the SR-71 Blackbird, Ben Rich's description is much more interesting, informative, and exciting, than the rather technical description of Kelly Johnson.
I would definitely recommend for aviation fans reading this book, but if you have to choose only one between the two – take Ben's "Skunk Works".