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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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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".
A well-balanced counter-point is to read "Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed" by Ben R. Rich which continues the story and fills in things Kelly misses,
Well worth the read as long as you keep his magnificent persistence and focus in mind.
One reason the pace accelerates towards the end is that he's had a second triple bypass as he's writing the book, and is doubtless feeling the pressure of time. But I give thanks that he used his precious time to give us this book. It's a must read for people who love airplanes.
Unfortunately the action comes early and as a result the book tails off.
It is also an indication of how fast technology is moving as the predictions he made in 1980 (ten years before his death) of what will happen in 2000 and beyond now seem very dated.
I still enjoyed it, particularly the early part of the book and I would recommend it to anytone who shares my enthusiasm for aircraft.