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Engineers of Victory: The Problem Solvers who Turned the Tide in the Second World War Hardcover – 29 Jan 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane; 2013 edition (29 Jan. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846141125
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846141126
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 4.1 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 244,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Consistently original ... An important contribution to our understanding (Michael Beschloss The New York Times Book Review)

His refreshing study ... asks the right questions, disposes of clichés and gives a rich account of neglected topics (David Edgerton Financial Times)

Colourfully and convincingly illustrates the ingenuity and persistence of a few people who made all the difference (Washington Post) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Paul Kennedy is one of the world's best-selling and most influential historians. Born and bought up in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, he took his doctorate in Oxford and began work shortly afterwards for the first great historian of the Second World War, Sir Basil Liddell Hart. He now teaches at Yale, and is the author or editor of nineteen books, including The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, which has been translated into over twenty languages, Preparing for the Twenty-First Century, The Parliament of Man and the now classic Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Geoff on 12 Jun. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author is a historian and the history parts are very good indeed (except one wonders at the need to go back to ancient Greece when discussing seaborne invasions - padding?)
But then when you get to the bits about "the problem solvers who turned the tide" it all gets a little vague. A couple of engineers are named (book title!) but I formed the impression that the technical aspects of their work were a little beyond the comprehension of the author. For instance, I know what a cavity magnetron is and what it does but reading this book it never gets beyong the realm of clever gizmo.
Read the historical backgrounds - they are excellent- but don't expect to get any understanding of the more technical stuff or knowledge of the problem solvers.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By T. Rossiter on 12 Jan. 2014
Format: Hardcover
The author provides good overviews of a number of the theatres of war and the techniques developed for them - but the emphasis is more on the historical narrative and emphasising the huge operational complexity and breadth of developments needed rather than much detail on the actual contribution of engineers. As a number of essays on aspects of WW2 I found it interesting and readable, but it said little about the actual engineering contributions or the engineers themselves.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By ESES on 4 Dec. 2014
Format: Paperback
Not quite what it says it is. I decided to read this book expecting to read about the engineering side of things, but although there were honest attempts to cover some aspects of the war from that side, I felt it fell a bit short. As someone who knows very little about the different campaigns, there was much of considerable interest - as a fairly good overview was provided. I did feel that some of the engineering could have been covered in more depth. There were a few obvious misunderstandings, or perhaps more correctly misuse of terms, most surprisingly some to do with ships - given the birthplace of the author. I had expected more details dealing with some aspects such as the mulberry harbours. Also, more about the work of the Engineering corps.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By G. K. Bain on 31 July 2013
Format: Hardcover
I was somewhat disappointed with this book. I have the impression that the author does not really know his subject in the detail that is required as there are numerous factual errors such as those mentioned in other reviews (Spitfire night fighters, and four-engined Vickers Vimys being just a couple) but also the author refers to Tom Blakeslee; his name was Don Blakeslee and, as one of the most famous fighter pilots in the 8th Air Force, this does matter. In a short listing of Allied fighter pilots he includes Guy Gibson; Gibson was a bomber pilot - he led 617 Squadron in the Dambusters raid.

I do realise that it is utterly impossible to cover a conflict such as the Second World War in a book of this length but better accuracy with the facts could have made it so much better.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Nelson on 7 Mar. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have to say this volume was hit and miss for me.

I did enjoy Dr. Kennedy's premise of "looking under the hood" at various conflicts during the war, rather than just taking the more normal broad brush approach of walking through high level strategies and their outcomes... as a result, for me, there were real insights as to how a particular front was turned around to the allies' favour. I also liked the considerable effort made to be balanced - there simply were no wonder weapons developed by one person from one country as some sometimes wish to attest. It just rings true that a lot of hard graft, insight and collaboration across many discplines, people and nations went into creating the war winning weapons systems Dr. Kennedy describes.

Finally on the positive side, I do enjoy books which challenge me to think again - I find that general histories of the war understandably tend to look at bits of the conflict in relative isolation. Here Dr. Kennedy has, through the approach he has taken, been able to stich together the impact from various theatres of conflict which in turn allows one to reconsider the whole - so for me, one of the major insights from this book would be the evidence that maybe Britian's role in much of the conflict, at all sorts of levels, was more crucial than the recent rash of WW2 histories currently suggest.

I did, however, struggle with Dr. Kennedy's writing style which felt a little repetitive in forcing home various points - fine for hung over graduates in a lecture hall, but I can generally pick up the import of a message by the second time of reading. At times I almost had the sense that I was reading a series of separate scholastic papers subsequently moulded together to make the whole - perhaps poor editorial?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gaarghoile on 1 Feb. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Paul Kennedy is generally a good read with plenty to say about the subjects he covers but this book is too conventional and not sufficiently informative in it's appreciation of the subject. Still he did mention the Curtis V12 which is a first mention by anyone in relation to the initiation of the development of the Merlin Engine which does save him from more savage criticism but I know that he can do far better than this. For instance if Mr Kennedy had looked at the title of this book and emphasised the word engineering in a more involved way he could have included so much more of the fantastic developments which have hardly come to the attention of the general public since that time. He could have written a whole lineage of books on these engineering development books each specialising in the engineering developments - Couhtry by Country. what a tale he could have told . FOR INSTANCE...

He makes mention of the T34 tank and never looked closely enough to find out that the faults with the extremely difficult to use but reasonably reliable gearbox on the T34 were cured by the Soviets copying the planetary cyclic gearbox of the Vickers built Matilda tank. He could also have indicated that the fault with the T34 turret were directly inherited by the influence of heavy French tank designs of the late 30's. Many Russian aircraft were equipped with copies of French airplane engines from this time France was a deeply divided Country in the late 30s many of it's citizenry were much more loyal to intellectually facile contrarily confounded manufactured concepts like Communism and Fascism than they were loyal to their own Country. I do wonder if the cataclysmic events that led up to our narrow escape at Dunkirk had been planned to occur well before 1939.
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