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Jet Age: The Comet, the 707, and the Race to Shrink the World
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Jet Age: The Comet, the 707, and the Race to Shrink the World

3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  142 ratings  ·  40 reviews
The captivating story of the titans, engineers, and pilots who raced to design a safe and lucrative passenger jet.
In "Jet Age," journalist Sam Howe Verhovek explores the advent of the first generation of jet airliners and the people who designed, built, and flew them. The path to jet travel was triumphal and amazingly rapid-less than fifty years after the Wright Brothers
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ebook, 272 pages
Published October 1st 2010 by Avery Publishing Group
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Alexander
Interesting, if a bit unfocused and repetitive. Would have benefited from better editing, but worth reading even if solely for the bit about how tax policy led to the development of the first Boeing jet passenger plane.
Jim B
About a month ago I was in Seattle and had finished the book I had brought with me. Searching the shelves at the Barnes & Noble at Pacific Place I spied this book, which is subtitled "The Comet, the 707, and the Race to Shrink the World." Being in the land of Boeing, it seems like a good choice. I will admit sheepishly that the review snippets also were attractive. The Wall Street Journal mention the book features "big money, war, sex, and power." Wowie, sex in a plane book? The New York Tim ...more
Joann

BAE Systems
De Havilland Comets.
JET AGE

The Comet, the 707, and the Race to Shrink the World

By Sam Howe Verhovek

Illustrated. 248 pp. Avery. $27
.The year was 1954, and the letter writer was one of the privileged few to travel in the first jet airliner. The Comet had fatal flaws, as it turned out, resulting in multiple crashes and giving the rival Boeing 707 the second-­mover advantage it needed to secure the market for itself.

“Jet Age” is ostensibly about the race between two companies and natio
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Joe White
The author's format appeared to be a compilation of shorter stories. It resulted in numerous repeats of snippets of story texts that he considered critical or important to flesh out the story. It left me thinking I had fallen asleep and was back at a previous point, and after four or more repetitions of some detail I was losing interest in the main story line.

Another issue I had with the text was the presentation method of the Comet investigation. The books opens with the Comet story which was v
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Stephanie
Absolutely fascinating. I've always been a fan of planes, though not necessarily of flying. I suppose its in the blood, with my family having ties to aviation through none other than Howard Hughes and the Spruce Goose. This book presents the dawn of the jet age and the characters who brought us these amazing machines in such a compelling manner that I really hate to put the book down. Covering the birth of the first jets, and going back a little further to touch upon their predecessors, the prop ...more
Tom Landry
I found this book very interesting. I grew up riding on the airlines regularly in the 70s and 80s and then became an airline pilot in the 90s. The Preface really took me back to what it used to be like flying compared to how it is today. It hit on how flying as a passenger has changed over the years.

The book detailed the history of the airline industry dating back to the air mail days which is an interesting evolution. The development of the jet engine was also covered. The author examined them
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Michael
I filled out an online form and suggested that my local library acquire this book, and they did - oh well, not every suggestion is a good one.

When I read the acknowledgements (at the end) I understood that this fellow, interested in Boeing, did a lot of research and then turned this research into a book. I expected a level of detail about the decision making behind the building of the 707 that is completely absent, as well as the context for those decisions. Nope, not much of that.

In 270+ pages,
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Persephone
Given that my first airplane trip was when I was around four and any amazement that I felt during that first jet plane experience has long since worn off (if not vanished altogether), Verhovek has achieved something wonderful. After reading Jet Age, I have officially regained my fascination with air travel. Its vignettes describing how some of the key individuals responsible for bringing jet travel into the commercial sphere first had their interests captivated by flight have reignited my own; t ...more
Trav
An easy to read, and interesting, examination of the development of transatlantic jetliners in the late 1950s.

Verhovek focuses on the race to develop the first transatlantic jet airliner. Although he devotes a chapter each in the beginning to the Comet and the 707, the majority of the book is the back story to these aircraft. He examines the development of the aviation industry from the Wright brother through to the end of the World War II, looking at the individuals behind the companies that s
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Converse

Jet Age is a short book about the development of the first jet passenger airplanes. Because jets can fly in the stratosphere, far above where most the weather takes place in the atmosphere, the are much more comfortable; passengers are knocked around less by turbulence and are less like to become sick. Jets are also much quieter.

The De Haviland company in Britain developed the first jet passenger airplane, the Comet, in the early 1950s. Unfortunately, the designers had not sufficiently con

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Raj Agrawal
Enjoyable book about the beginning of flight. Tells the story of some of the key heroes of early "airpower", from Boeing and Tex Johnston, to Earhart and Lindberg, and even capitalism as a mechanism for maximizing the utility and innovation of flight. Verhovek portrays flight as changing the dynamics of space and time in a way that no other innovation had done before.

From a strategic perspective, this book provides a look into organizational and cultural change, how to manage a new capability a
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Sara
I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads program.

Flying on a jet isn't something anyone thinks much about, but in the not-so-distant past, the airlines weren't even sure that jets were something that passengers would want or need. The evolution of air travel has seemed so natural, it never even occurred to me that there would even be a question as to whether or not to build commercial jets. It's amazing how much things have changed in such a short time.

Jet Age is the his
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Jackie
Jet Age: the Comet, the 707, and the Race to Shrink the World is a comprehensive, yet succinct look at the progress of flight in the 20th Century. Even non-aviation enthusiasts will delight in this fascinating description of the mover and shakers, evolution of airplanes, and somewhat good-natured global competition to move with gusto into this new method of transportation.

Living in the 21st Century, we tend to forget where we came from and how bold and fearless these early pilots and engineers
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Anthony
This was a very good book and made me want to run to the Museum of Flight back home and learn more about the aircraft mentioned in the book. I liked the way the author presented the material and left then reader wanting more. Any fan of aviation has to read this book, as it offers a brief overview of the competition between the Brits and Americas and how Boeing won the Jet Age.
Natalia
My freshman year of college, I took a class called "Engineering Failures, The Dark Side of Technology" and one of the things we covered in the class was the DeHavilland Comet. I've been fascinated by the Comet ever since. I have read up on the technical reasons for the Comet's failure, but somehow I had missed the rivalry between DeHavilland and Boeing, and the beginning of the jet age.

This book is fascinating. It's not just the history of the planes themselves, but the history of jet air trave
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Lexi
This book manages to be repetitive without really saying anything. There are a few interesting anecdotes, but for the most part the author seems to have cribbed from other books without really adding anything of his own. The (rare) descriptions of anything scientific or technical are oversimplified to the point of becoming meaningless. (The one that stood out most to me was the idea that all of flight can be explained by Newton's third law, with no mention of petty things like lift or a guy name ...more
Gregg
I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway. Jet Age is a brief but interesting short history of the race to the Jet Age. I enjoyed learning about the different personalities associated with this story. Some were eccentric, some were very private some were new to aviation, some were old hands. All were dedicated to the goal of making their nation or company the first to usher in the Jet
Age and especially the non-stop commercial jet flight across the Atlantic. It was very enjoyable readi
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Sean
Just an awesome read. This book tells the true story of the battle to bring jets to the airline industry. It's quite a battle, with the US and England battling for glory after World War II. Great stories of the people, plans and risks involved, while also showing how dramatically the airline industry has changed in the relatively short time it's been around. Highly recommended!

I won this book through the Goodreads First Reads program and my review is based on an advance uncorrected proof.
David
Today's view of flying on jets is one of crowds, TSA, delays, etc. In the 50s flying on jets was romantic, fascinating and a bit risky. Verhovek describes the birth of the commercial jet age recounting the misadventures of the de Haviland Comet and the eventual success of the Boeing Dash 80. If the creators of the jet age that their daring inventions would become airborne bus routes, maybe they would have closed up shop and invented something else.
Paul Duggan
Like an overly long magazine article, the book focuses more on the airline industry during this era than on the engineering and development of the De Havilland Comet and Boeing 707.

Gathered from secondary sources, it was a good overview but many details of the two aircraft were lacking. For example, the cracks at the corners of the Comet's square windows, the cause of the three disasters, were mentioned only as an afterthought.
Wayne
As an aviation buff, perhaps I expected too much from reading the excerpt. It is mainly a summary of previously published material, and concludes abruptly at the point in time when transatlantic jet travel began. Perhaps a sequel covering 1980 to the present is in the works? The most valuable portion for me was an excellent bibliography listing countless books on the subject. A valuable resource.
Nick Kugel
As one review on the book says "anyone that has been on a plane can relate to and enjoy this book." I somewhat agree with this, however, I didn't really like the way the book was laid out. The story gets side track by a couple of chapters that had nothing to do with the race. I would recommend this to anyone who saw this book and though it could be interesting.
Steeljaw Scribe
Interesting and cautionary story of the competition between the UK (de Havilland's Comet) and the US (Boeing 707) at the dawn of the jet transport age. Could serve as a modern day allegory for the US' current technological prowess. Narrative a bit out of synch as it tends to jump around chronologically, but otherwise a quick read.
Tyler Lees
I liked the premise of this book more than its execution. Supposedly the story of how the jet airliner came into being, the book loses focus about halfway through, and rushes into its conclusion.

The author does a good job of explaining technical aspects simply and easily. It's not a bad read - just a poorly structured one.
June
If you already know the story of the race to create the premier jetliner between de Havilland, Boeing, Lockheed and Douglas, then this book probably won't tell you anything you don't already know.

However, if you're looking for a interesting read, this book cleverly summarizes and captures the salient points of the above.
Paul
Fascinating book on the history of early passenger jets and the early years of jet travel. Hard-core aviation enthusiasts won't read anything they've heard about before, but everyone else will enjoy a look back at an era when air travel was better than "Greyhound with wings".
David Kessler
A memoir of how the jet plane went through its growing pains as the airline companies changed over from prop engines. The 707 outdistance them all in sales and put Boeing on the map as a jet plane producer. Well-written history
Brian
Good history of commercial jet aviation. If you fly a lot it will be of interest. Little known fact (to me) Boeing, United Airlines, and United Technologies all used to be the same company until the early 1940s.
Nancy
Lots of really interesting information in here. The lack of chronological order made it more confusing than it needed to be, but the characters and the story more than made up for that.
Aaron
It was an informative and entertaining look at the men that ushered in the passenger jetliner. Another good read that I was turned onto by NPR. I hope they don't lose their federal support.
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