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Against the Odds: An Autobiography Hardcover – 17 Apr 2003

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Texere Publishing; Revised edition edition (17 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587991705
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587991707
  • Product Dimensions: 24.7 x 16.1 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 503,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"extended and re-issued, Dyson's autobiography is an engaging piece of work... His career is recounted in an infectious, hands-on style..." -- The Times, 10 February, 2001

A frank and engaging account of one man's journey from rags to riches, all because of a very good idea. -- Creative Review, February, 2001

An excellent read about a rather excellent product, its history, development and inventor. -- M2 Communications, November 14, 2001

Dyson sheds light on the 'invention process' in this autobiography, which humorously traces his growth... -- Scotland On Sunday, January 28, 2001

Dyson's autobiography, describes his achievements in refreshingly honest terms. -- The Times, February 24, 2001

James Dyson's autobiography is an engaging piece of work. -- Sunday Times, February 11, 2001

James Dyson's story is an object lesson in how companies who overlook the value of design do so at their peril. -- Terence Conran

The book shows just how great an inventor Dyson is, with inspriation greater than Brunel and Edison. -- Docklands News, February, 2001

This autobiography caught me by surprise. Never in my wildest dreams had I thought a book about a vacuum cleaner could be so entertaining. -- Australian Financial Review

This is a book against the traditional way of doing business. -- Daily Telegraph

This is a truly inspirational British success story about a hero of technology for the modern age. -- Blackpool Gazette, January 6, 2001 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Author

It must have been some time in 1979 that I first heard the words, "But, James, if there were a better kind of vacuum cleaner, Hoover or Electrolux would have invented it." That was when I left the first company I had set up - gave up security, income and respectability - and persuaded an old friend to come in with me on a project I was developing in the pigsties behind my home. After hundreds of prototypes, thousands of modifications, and millions of tests, I was in terrible debt, but in love with the Dual Cyclone. By 1997 I had a company turning over #100 million in the UK, and had generated sales of more than #1 billion worldwide. This is the story of how I did it. (JAMES DYSON, from the Preface) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 Feb. 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is a glorious story and like all great stories it is both true and unlikely. It chronicles deeds of deering do that overcame seemingly overwhelming vested interests in the UK, America and Japan to create a world beating British product. When was the last time a Brit did that! How can there be anything heroic about a vacuum cleaner? Imagine all the world using a machine that is fundamentally flawed, and all the world saying it can not be improved. Imagine building a better machine with your own hands, having manufacturers snigger, while filching ideas. Imagine debt rising, the seemingly endless days of struggle...Imagine winning, because your machine is better, imagine seeing the mockers mouths fall silent. The story begins, as all stories should, at the beginning with Dyson's early years. He zigzags through the educational process avoiding the stereotype labels of artist, or engineer yet encompassing both and much more as his life unfolds. In business he has success with a flat boat, is dumped with nothing from the company that he founded to build his ball-barrow and then begins the great double cyclone odyssey. A trek that sees him many times in huge debt, fighting simultaneous battles through the courts and somehow emerging to glorious triumph for not only are his Dyson's best sellers but he makes them in his own factory to his own controlled standards. He has many revolutionary ideas not least being that any machines that eventually fail will be collected free of charge and completely re-cycled. His experience has bred a philosophy of business that looks back to one his great heroes, Isambard Kingdom Brunel and to times when Britain made things. It is book with attitude, the attitude of a winner.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 Oct. 1998
Format: Paperback
The book is the story of James Dyson. It covers his upbringing and describes why he believes he has the mindset that he does. It covers his education and training and the lucky breaks he received along the way. It details his first forays into design and marketing on other people's behalf. It explains his moment of realisation when he made the quantum mental leap from a machine in his workshop to a vacuum cleaner design. It then covers the more than 10 years he struggled to make it a mainstream product and delves into the nasty things big multinationals will do to slow you down.
It describes the huge lengths he went to during this period to get to the point where he was making vacuum cleaners. How much personal debt he accumulated. How much he spent on legal battles with multinational companies trying to cheat him. How it affected his personal life. It is easy to sympathise with him while reading the book and in similar situations it is hard to imagine many people would have continued.
The book is written in a friendly style and broken up into chapters covering chronological sections of the story. It would be good reading for anyone entering the design or manufacturing business.
I don't agree with all of the opinions he includes in the book, but they are certainly food for thought.
I really enjoyed reading this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Picard TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 Oct. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's rare these days that I take the time to read new autobiographies as, if we're being honest, they're almost always written by sports 'personalities' who have just overcome some social trauma, or music artists desperately trying to revive their failed career. Why waste your time trawling through this garbage?

James Dyson's effort stands firmly as the efforts of a truly inspirational character - one who does not require the reader to treat his many wounds, or even accept any sort of sympathy for the hurdles that were inescapable. This was one man's quest to acknowledge right from wrong and, in the process, to put himself, his family and his financial security on the line.

How did he persevere in creating so many great products? The answer is in the question; he never stopped solving problems. Although famed for his cyclone 'bag-less' vacuum cleaners, Dyson worked his way up to that position through persevering with many other projects, some worked and some failed miserably.

The thing to take away from all this however is that he was just as naive as you or me. His success wasn't born from any kind of talent other than his ability to see opportunities where others had failed. As an aspiring entrepreneur myself, this book was a thoroughly enjoyable set of accounts that provide motivation, belief and above all a gauge to which standards should be met in product design. But as Dyson himself says, the former values have largely been lost in what is a nation that expects failure as a standard.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Mar. 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a great story, because the good guy wins in the end - against all the odds. Ranged against Dyson were rapacious American multinationals, deadwood British manufacturers, and financial organisations and government agencies that poured cold water on Dyson's dual cyclone ideas. But he turned the tables on them all, and how he succeded is a rare British manufacturing success story that ought to be compulsory reading for Britain's politicians and business leaders. In it Dyson presents his own agenda for a manufacturing revival in Britain, with creativity restored to prime position, rather than finance or advertising as is usually the case.
The book is written in an enjoyable informal style, and peppered with the occassional slightly rude expression, making it readable and often funny.
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