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Invention:A Life

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  500 ratings  ·  58 reviews
Dyson has become a byword for high performing products, technology, design and invention. Now, James Dyson, the inventor and entrepreneur who made it all happen, tells his remarkable and inspirational story in Invention: A Life.

Famously, over a four-year period, James Dyson made 5,127 prototypes of the cyclonic vacuum cleaner that would transform the way houses are cleane
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 2nd 2021 by Simon & Schuster UK
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Miha Rekar
Sep 09, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was always a big fan of Dyson products and this book pretty much solidified my views about the company. They really care about engineerins details and will go against the grain if it means they might create a better product. They believe in family ownership of the company which I could not agree more. I see Dyson's values as a sort of hybrid between Apple and Patagonia.

Though there are many things I disagree with James - mainly patents. He thinks they should be easier to get and longer lasting
Peter Tillman
WSJ review, by Henry Petroski: (Paywalled. As always, I'm happy to email a copy to non-subscribers)
The fact that James Dyson himself did not get a degree in engineering disproves the idea that Britain cannot produce some outstanding engineers. It certainly did so during the Industrial Revolution, the Victorian era, and World War II. What Mr. Dyson’s almost unique bootstrap achievement does confirm is his contention that the existing educational s
Ronson  Rouble
Sep 19, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“We should be encouraging the young to become doers, rather than virtue signallers, to help them strive to solve the problems of their age while looking forward to a better future”

“I wasn’t even trained as an engineer or scientist. I did, however, have the bloody-mindedness not to follow convention, to challenge experts and to ignore Doubting Thomases”

Hear Hear
Keith Weller
Sep 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very good book I enjoyed reading it James Dyson is a fantastic British inventor I never thought Dyson had so many things I had never heard of Dyson farming a recommend read 10/10
Min Hui Chua
Mar 07, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Can you imagine 5,127 vacuum cleaners? Because I can’t. I have no idea how he managed to fail 5,126 times and yet continued for the 5,127th time. The degree of determination and resilience he shows is astounding.

I love this book because of how his passion for design, engineering and art oozes through the pages. I am a sucker for illustrations so to have accompanying pages of his sketches, blueprints and designs was a big plus.

I’ve always thought Dyson products were expensive and never truly und
Patrick Fay
Nov 12, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have found his designs interesting, ground breaking technologically and aesthetically. His struggles along the way show the perseverance and grit it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and I agree with many of his thoughts on technical education. A bit braggy but that seems true of almost all autobiographies.
Enda Hackett
Sep 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent lookninto the life of one of the great modern inventors. The author's passion and drive rings through on every page. Although most will relate to the Dyson vaccum I found the other areas which Dyson have branch into even more interesting. Education, farming, cars; James thirst for the improvement of these areas is inspirational. Onwards and upwards! Thank you James for sharing your story. ...more
Keven Wang
Boring at some parts. But great inventor journey
Apr 23, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gets a lot of bad stick, but he's such an inspiration! I think we could all learn a lot from his work ethic, curiosity, and pure optimism. ...more
Lanre Dahunsi
Jan 08, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“It is a story told through a life of creating and developing things, as well as expressing a call to arms for young people to become engineers, creating solutions to our current and future problems.”

In Invention: A Life, Dyson describes his many failures as an inventor, the importance of mentorship, education, and self-reliance. The book explores his love for great design, scientists, innovators, engineers, and farming. The Book explores his constant desire to learn, fearlessness to step into t
John Roberts
In itself, nothing wrong with this biography.
However, it is hard to distinguish between the biography of James Dyson himself and that of his company.
I do enjoy the occasional business story, many excellent books in that category I’ve read before. This one though, you can tell it is written by the man himself. It is fairly dry, interesting in a clinical sort of way, pragmatic in how he regards the world and folks around him, and a very technological telling of the evolution of his company. Oh
Abdullah Almuslem
This was a difficult book to read. There is a lot of technical details in the book which makes some the chapters a bit dry. I also felt that there was too much marketing to the DYSON company which was something I did not like.

The author tells his story from a career point view with few personal stories. He talks about his inventions and technology advancement. There was defiantly some struggle in his story which may inspire the reader. The author cites that he tested and built 5127 hand-made pr
Liam Polkinghorne
Folklore depicts invention as a flash of brillance. That eureka moment. But it rarely is. It is more about failure than ultimate success. Stamina and determination along with creativity are needed to overcome seemingly impossible difficulties in research and other challenges in life. Was willing to try and fail: were 5,127 prototypes to get a model for the cyclonic vacuum cleaner they could license. It was not a eureka moment: change one thing at a time and see what difference that one change ma ...more
Joseph Young
Part biography, part discussion of his company, part politics, but entirely self-serving. For context, I enjoy some Dyson products, but do not worship the man.
The book starts off with his early biography, which unfortunately is quite boring. Once we move move on to the inventions, it's a little more interesting. He talks about building boats, ball barrows, before delving into vortex vacuums. Unfortunately, it's fairly light on the engineering details, probably because too much would bore a conv
David Wurster
As a retired engineer, I was drawn to this book because of the uniqueness of the Dyson vacuum cleaner. It turns out that I am within months of being the same age as Dyson; his description of his life events resonating with my memories through the years. An unexpected element of the book was the many encounters he had with unethical individuals and companies that took advantage of him. I also found his description of the inefficiency of government officials and bureaucrats to mirror my experience ...more
John Lippe
Feb 23, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Audio book was neat hearing James talk about his own life in his words and then hearing his son and wife share their version in post script.

First half of book was the best hearing about all of James struggles to get Dyson off the ground. Entrepreneurship is tough so hearing first hand about his roller coaster was inspiring and honest.

Second half got a lil too political / reputation clearing for me. I’m not British so hasn’t heard all of the negative stuff James was defending… didn’t care too mu
Colin Das
Jan 01, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: great-reads
Dyson (the person) is a beast with the goal to improve humanity through making quality products using the method of (incremental progress via) changing only one thing at a time and observing the effect.

This simple approach makes him accessible unlike other the eccentric tech entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk.

He made 5127 iterations of his vacuum __himself__ before getting it right.

The story of his grit is inspiring -- losing his father at a young age and persevering.

He walks through
Daniel Teoh
Feb 04, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An inspiring tale of an inventor turned entrepreneur out of his sheer passion for his product. A great tale about the gradual journey that Dyson underwent to build some of the best consumer products in the world. It clearly turned me into the fan and I am a proud owner of a Dyson air purifier, which emanates the philosophy from this book.

The book was a great read with both entrepreneurial, technical, and leadership lessons told from a first person perspective. I enjoyed them all but felt that m
Aug 28, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James Dyson - Invention: A Life
An excellent autobiography. Sir James Dyson is honestly the modern day combo of da Vinci and Edison. From qualifying academically in art and design to mastering engineering through self learning and learning by doing, Sir Dyson has designed and manufactured products that are a marvellous piece of art and functionally the best engineered solution. Inspiring stories of Sir Dyson never giving up when it comes to working on the Dyson Vacuum cleaner with which he failed
Aaro Keipi
Yes, Dyson is the company led by that guy in the commercials telling us how long it took to create an expensive vacuum that doesn't lose suction. But this book is about more than that: it also features hair dryers and other household appliances!

If you enjoy rambling forays into the engineering challenges presented by a bagless vacuum cleaner, this book is for you! But it's also for you if you like hearing about a pedantic man's unsuccessful quest for validation in his homeland of the UK, and his
Cyrus Samii
Nov 04, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read the book primarily because I wanted to understand why this inventor of the vacuum i so adore could possibly have been a Brexiteer. I get it though — as a British industrialist he has a series complaints about how German and French industry seems to dominate EU regulation setting, leaving British companies at a disadvantage. That and the more principled view that an entity as large as the EU ceases to be responsive; an “iron law” of ostensibly detached, but maybe really captured, technocra ...more
Henry Fosdike
Jun 14, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you've ever wanted to know anything about Dyson the man or Dyson the company then this is the book for you. There is perhaps a little too much focus on politics and why James Dyson dislikes the UK government as well as the EU, but I suppose that is all part of the story. It's clear he is extremely passionate about engineering and pushing non-traditional subjects at school, while he is also quite clearly trying to 'do his best'. Whether that's all PR or genuine is up to the reader to decide.

Fabrizio Poli
Jun 03, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing story about and incredible inventor/entrepreneur. A lot of the press talk about Elon Musk all the time but you need to look into the life of James Dyson. I love the fact that he is a family man and that him and his wife are a team and have been solid all the way. the book talks about their initial struggles and how Dyson laid the foundation for a great company.
This is well written and inspirational. he talks a lot about getting young people into technology but also how the Un
Chouba Nabil
Mar 29, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a journey : amazing autobiography by James Dyson
It summarise the spirit of being an engineer, never give up keep trying, never settle always work on a better version, going against all odds and trying new disruptive new ideas, getting your hands dirty ..
Plus on the book he criticised the culture and politisant in uk who look down on manufacturing and getting hands dirty and engineering in general.
Amazing book that summed it all and the beauty his self made engineer who studied beaux-arts !
May 13, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent read about his life and work. What I admired most is his resilience and his perpetual stamina to improve upon his designs, even after achieving considerable success with past iterations. I’m also impressed with this idea of an engineer-entrepreneur, rather than the atypical business background of most founders. Lastly it’s good to know that even though his EV project was pulled out at the last moment, he did allude that it is not necessarily the end of Dyson’s foray into the automat ...more
Alex Whigham
Fantastic read and very interesting. James Dyson’s life and inventions are both excitingly fascinating. Took me only 3 days to read, one of my favourite inventors/entrepreneurs.
This book covers his early life, his first business, all the products Dyson has created, Dysons venture into farming and the establishment of their own university. If you enjoyed Richards Branson’s autobiography you’ll love this book!
Wow. What an inspiring story and man. I'm an admirer of Dyson products and became even more an admirer of their company, products, and Mr. Dyson after reading his book. A man of persistence, creativity, and vision. We think of tech companies as those on the internet, but the interesting ones are also those that apply technology to solve everyday problems. Mr. Dyson is now my most admired and inspiring entrepreneur. ...more
Gian Luca
Dec 01, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It depicts a life of curiosity, perseverance, never satisfied with the status quo, always improvement. Highly critical of the British education system of the last years. With his fortune, very dedicated and generous to get more young to become engineers.
It´s an engineer written book with a lot of details on the surface. An interesting life…
Jason Bagley
Jan 01, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable read with some really interesting stories of James Dyson’s life. Some parts do get a little boring as he delves into way too much detail or the history of certain British buildings.

He’s an inspirational entrepreneur that is very different from all the other high-profile entrepreneurs we read about and follow.
Stanley Turner
Jan 26, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A good autobiography by James Dyson, the man who revolutionized the vacuum cleaner. Almost all vacuum cleaners now use some form of cyclone suction and rarely will you find a new vacuum cleaner that uses a bag. This work includes the ups and downs of Dyson from his ousting at Ball-barrow, to the double cross from Amway, which he had the final word. Highly recommended…SLT
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Sir James Dyson is a British industrial designer and founder of his company called Dyson.

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