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Predator: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  299 ratings  ·  41 reviews
The untold story of the birth of the Predator drone, a wonder weapon that transformed the American military, reshaped modern warfare, and sparked a revolution in aviation

The creation of the first weapon in history whose operators can stalk and kill an enemy on the other side of the globe was far more than clever engineering. As Richard Whittle shows in Predator, it was one
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published September 16th 2014 by Henry Holt and Co.
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Jerome Otte
Jun 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An interesting, readable, and well-written history of the origins, development and deployment of the Predator drone. Whittle is good at describing everything that transformed the Predator from a novel and seemingly bizarre concept to America’s weapon of choice in the war on terror: the people, the technology, and everything else.

Whittle uses both official records and personal recollections, and brings them together in an interesting and readable narrative. He describes the bureaucratic infightin
Frank Cahill
Aug 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-read
News stories about Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are commonplace today, but "Predator" readers may be surprised to learn that the US had only two armed drones after the terrorist attacks on September, 11 2001. The UAV system was still very much under development at the time, and the author combines the remarkable story of aircraft and electronic design with the intrigue of CIA and military operations. Although there is no human on board, the units are not really unmanned, but are controlled by ...more
Doug Cornelius
Predator covers the story of the birth of the Predator drone and its effect on military and covert operations. Richard Whittle manages to weave through the military and aeronautic bureaucracy of the Predator as it is destined to become the most successful military unmanned aircraft.

I was surprised to see the level of detail about the development of the aircraft. I would think that much of the information would be secret. Or that those involved would be quiet about its history. Whittle clearly wa
Aug 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A terrific piece of non-fiction, an excellent story, a thought-provoking slice of history that dramatically featured in the new millennium's most significant events, and, at the same time, an intriguing case study of disciplines ranging from the law of war, defense procurement, innovation within bureaucracy, and even the psychology of warfare (as killing by remote control from another continent becomes commonplace, while simultaneously offering the trigger puller unprecedented, clear images of t ...more
Aug 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I have to admit to being a little uncomfortable reading this book, but in the end it provoked a chain of thought that might lead to a book I write myself one day, so I have to thank Richard Whittle for that!

Why uncomfortable? This book is a very apolitical look at a very political topic. The Predator and its successor the Reaper have killed thousands of people in recent years and according to the Center for Investigative Journalism, 134 of these (to Feb 2015) were civilians. So although this is
Les Gehman
Aug 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Predator: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution by Richard Whittle is a very well-written and engaging history of the Predator UAV program. Whittle does a great job of conveying the initial reluctance that the armed forces had towards UAVs, and then the great urgency to get them into the field after 9/11. Some very talented people worked on this program and overcame some difficult technical challenges in creating a working UAV system. I highly recommend this book for anyone curious about UA ...more
Aug 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
I had this one sitting out because I had just received it in the mail as a GoodReads FirstReads. My son was intrigued and I let him take the book. So it may be a while before I have the chance to review it.
David  Despain
Aug 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excellent! A concise and well-written history.
Nov 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: terrorism, technology
Predator is a lively, enjoyable read that tells the winding tale of how the Predator (and other UAVs similar to it) came to be and how this technology has revolutionized modern combat. The story begins in Israel with Abe Karem, an aeronautical genius, who is challenged to find a way to use unmanned equipment in order to combat anti-air defenses for the Israeli Air Force. As the story unfolds, Abe has a falling-out with the Israeli defense industry and moves to the United States to start his own ...more
Mar 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Predator (2014) by Richard Whittle is an excellent look at the development of the aircraft and the deployment of the Predator UAV.

The book follows Abraham Karem's work for the Israeli defense industry and his move to the United States and his work on making UAVs a reality and how his work became absorbed into General Atomics and their creation of UAVs that had a greater endurance than previous aircraft.

The book also mentions in passing the US Army's Aquilla drone program and mostly answers the q
Mark Monsma
Jan 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military-war
Another amazing book by author Richard Whittle. I am just as amazed by his style of writing as I was with his first book, "The Dream Machine: The Untold History of the Notorious V-22 Osprey".

In this book, Whittle describes the evolution of a particular drone, known as the Predator. A commonly known drone which has been reported on countless times in the media.

As for the drone or UAV revolution, Whittle describes where it all began and where it is going. The US military was the first to use a d
Chris Higgins
Nov 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A very easy read. Whittle traces the evolution of modern drones, the politics of how they began abd how they became armed. The evolution of these drones is tied very closely to the Global War on Terror. A lot of these sort of books can be a struggle to read. This book flows beautifully and is very easy to follow.
Matt Loy
Nov 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Very well written. Engaging story of how the UAV was brought to service and how it is changing the future of warfare.
Tanvi Prakash
Jan 08, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You just find some books at the right place at the right time. This was one such.
The impact this book has had on my life as an aircraft designer! Phew.
Vincent Pham
Dec 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
A comprehensive and thought-provoking read on a topic that polarizes our nation. Whittle did a fine job capturing the complex world of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), from its origins, development, and implementation into ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) and ultimately into the battlefield.

I enjoyed the chronological format of this book, which shows the roots of the drones/UAVs being built from one man’s garage to becoming a staple in the military industrial complex today.
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-military
An excellent book about the history of UAV's, specifically around the General Atomics Predator (AKA RQ-1, MQ-1). The author does a great job in presenting the various personalities that either pushed for or against the idea of UAV's in the military.

The author also illustrates many of the problems inherit in military procurement. The Predator is a bit of a hacked together system, resembling more like a Silicon Valley startup attitude to product design. It took the genius of small groups to rapid
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 11, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars.
What should have been obvious, i.e., weaponizing unmanned aircraft, was almost thwarted by lack of foresight, egos, and bureaucratic infighting. Whittle does a good job of following the development of the predator from the end of WWII to the attack on the towers. However, he often gets bogged down in superfluous details about the lives of individuals, and this seriously detracts from the flow of the narrative. It also makes the reader slog through the minutia to find the important and
ronald norris
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Informative good read

I felt it started out slow with Karem. Once Mr. Whittle got into the late 1990 military applications the facts and trail of events were fascinating. The organization and presentation were excellent.
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting book. Lots of technology and applications. From radio controlled model airplanes to drones controlled on the other side of the planet.
There is also considerable discussion of how programs are run and the strategies to keep them going in spite of political pressures.
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an interesting take on the government side of how the Predator came to be. Less Skunkworks and more gripping thriller, Whittle sheds light on the post-9/11 environment that brought UAVs from fringe technology to mainstream weapon.
Keith Wheeles
Excellent review of how drones were incorporated into operational scenarios before they were mature - too valuable an idea not to exploit it. Good mix of the human and technical.
Gary Van Staden
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ra Fe
Dec 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: add-to-library
Oct 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read now I won't be sorry

In Depth well written, totally detailed and fully briefed. I am now writing more because I'm required to in order to submit
Mad Hab
Mar 10, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book, without bullshit, very well written.
Jul 03, 2022 rated it it was amazing
This book tells the story of the origins of unmanned warfare. Drones are changing the way we live.
kevin  moore
Oct 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
excellent story of how major parts of drone story came together - israel to san diego
Jennifer Collins
Whittle's exploration of drone technology goes back to the beginning--to a boy who was fascinated with model airplanes--and because he takes a story-teller's view to the whole of drone technology's history, this book is far more readable than one might expect. In fact, Whittle's step-by-step approach makes it a fairly fascinating journey, as he's careful to take time for exploring the characters of the people who played the greatest roles in developing the technology, and uncovering the steps th ...more
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Predator is a well-written, highly readable book that documents the more modern evolution of UAVs, in particular the Predator and Reaper made by General Atomics. As a pleasant change the book focuses primarily on the people involved and the challenges they overcame as opposed to solely focusing on the technology involved in UAV development. This adds a much needed human element to the historical narrative, which up to now focuses heavily on the technology and capability.

At times it felt as thoug
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Richard Whittle, author of Predator: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution (Henry Holt and Company, September 2014), and The Dream Machine: The Untold History of the Notorious V-22 Osprey, (Simon & Schuster, 2010), is a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington and 2013-2014 Alfred V. Verville Fellow at the National Air and Space Museum. He writes occ ...more

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