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Harrier: The Biography [Hardcover]

Jonathan Glancey
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
RRP: £20.00
Price: £13.60 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

7 Nov 2013
The British designed and built the Harrier, the most successful vertical take-off-and-landing aircraft ever made. Combining state-of-the-art fighter plane technology with a helicopter's ability to land vertically the Harrier has played an indispensable role for the RAF and Royal Navy in a number of conflicts, most famously the Falklands War. Jonathan Glancey's biography is a vividly enjoyable account of the invention of this remarkable aeroplane and a fitting tribute to the inspiration and determination of the men and women who created it, and the bravery of the men who flew it, often in the most dangerous conditions.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (7 Nov 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843548917
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843548911
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 214,111 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

A wonderfully entertaining book, a rich mixture of science, social history and politics written with the verve, expertise and infectious enthusiasm we have come to expect from Glancey. Unlike the politicians and the MoD, this man knows what he is doing. --Patrick Bishop, Sunday Telegraph Takes you on a vivid tour through the history of the aircraft and the men and women who created and flew it. --Daily Express --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Jonathan Glancey is well known as the former architecture and design correspondent of the Guardian and Independent newspapers. He is also a steam locomotive enthusiast and pilot. A frequent broadcaster, his books include Giants of Steam, the bestselling Spitfire: The Biography; Nagaland: A Journey to India's Forgotten Frontier; Tornado: 21st Century Steam; The Story of Architecture and The Train: An Illustrated History.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I purchased the Kindle version of this book as it was the cheaper option but i still feel that was nearly £8 wasted.

I am 50% of the way through this book and can safely say that I have probably skim read and skipped through 50% of that! I was looking for a book on the Harrier not bogged down by too many technical details but a plotted history of its inception, development and service history with reasons behind its retirement. The book barely scratches at these points without digressing off into massive tangents that only fulfil to massively pad the book out.

'A wonderfully entertaining book, a rich mixture of science, social history and politics written with the verve, expertise and infectious enthusiasm we have come to expect from Glancey. Unlike the politicians and the MoD, this man knows what he is doing. --Patrick Bishop, Sunday Telegraph Takes you on a vivid tour through the history of the aircraft and the men and women who created and flew it. --Daily Express'

The above review from the Daily Express highlights the content of science, social history and politics. This is true but I would say that this is the main content with sudden burst of information about the Harrier woven in. It very much feels that the author has managed to associate the Harrier with historical events rather that the other way round.

The book starts with the withdrawal of Harrier service at RAF Cottesmore and a brief insight into the political reasons behind this. Good start. Then when it goes onto give you the thinking behind VTOL aircraft, it descends into a laborious story about magic carpets, Arabian Nights and Hindu gods! It waffles on about airships and Nazi prootype aircraft to name but a few.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Chris
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My life-long and enthusiastic involvement with ‘Hawker’ makes very keen that the history of the company and its fine aircraft should be accurately portrayed in books, especially those by well known authors. Consequently I looked forward to reading what promised to be, according to the ’blurb’ on the cover, a eulogy for the Harrier.

I found “Harrier” a frustrating work, a marred eulogy, I‘m afraid. There is much that is of great interest, especially the political and operational aspects of the story, but the book’s validity is diminished by the fact that on the historical and technical sides it contains many errors and misconceptions which I will point out below..

Page 12, para 2 - “…Hawker P.1127, the world’s first successful vertical take-off and landing aircraft (VTOL) aircraft.” Not even a Hawker enthusiast like me would claim that. Helicopters had been doing it for years and there had been several fixed wing machines that had successfuly accomplished VTOL and hovering flight. The P.1127 was the first successful jet V/STOL aircraft designed to fighter standards. All the others had been experimental or research aircraft. Anyway, on page 23, para 3, the author actually says that the first reliable VTOL aircraft were the rigid airships.

Page 32, para 2 - “spinning downwards”. I can’t visualise propellers spinning downwards. Does the author mean tilting downwards?

Page 33, para 2 - the AV-8B is certainly not in interceptor.

Page 40, para 1 - the correct designations are XFY-1 and XFV-1.

Page 41, para 1 - the XFV-1 was known as the Pogo, not Pogo Stick.

Page 44, para 3 - the SC-1 made its first flight at the A&AEE Boscombe Down then later moved to RAE Bedford. (Wikepedia is incorrect).
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2.0 out of 5 stars Wrong title! 2 Aug 2014
By R H
Format:Paperback
A fairly entertaining read for its generalised review of how the Harrier fitted within the UK context during its career, but not much use if you're looking for a technical history of this aeroplane, as the title 'Harrier' might suggest.

It does frequently take off (no pun intended!) at frustrating tangents from the main subject, but once you're used to this, it's quite interesting.
The author does tend to repeat himself, and is rather fixated about the Spitfire - virtually to the exclusion of any other 1940's era aircraft that would be more comparable to the Harrier role (eg Typhoon, Tempest, Martlet, ..?) - perhaps the author is new to the subject?
There are also a number of technical errors which points to a misunderstanding as to how the aircraft functions, best summarised by another reviewer here - 'Chris'. For example, I too was mystified as to how the Harrier could be controlled in the hover by the exhaust gases 'passing over the control surfaces', or how a shoulder mounted wing could protect the fuselage from exhaust.

Nonetheless it does provide some illuminating political, economic & social context for this aircraft - and others, notably the BAe Hawk - as well as interesting discussion about its development, just don't expect much about the Harrier!
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4.0 out of 5 stars What an aircraft! 3 Aug 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Not up there with the Spitfire story but a cracking read none the less. This book is likely to have you both beaming with pride at the achievements of Great Britain at her best and also screaming with frustration at how easily we, as a nation, can simply throw it all away. I idea conceived in the 60's and remains good enough for the Americans to fly until 2030, why did we ever decide to simply discard it? These are possible some of the questions that the book does not answer but then it is not a political critique but a story of a stunning aircraft, very well told.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good value.
Published 8 days ago by John Glover
4.0 out of 5 stars Give it a try.
I was not sure at first, but on reflection, I feel this book gives a different perspective. I enjoyed it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by JG
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Man has chip on sholder
Published 1 month ago by M Bowery
1.0 out of 5 stars Save your time and money, avoid this book
Disappointed by this book, I read Glancey's book about the Spitfire a few years ago, but this rambling, error ridden, over emotional, repeating itself effort is a poor sequel. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Harrier Book
This was a present for my husband who avidly reads aviation books and is extremely knowledgeable about all aspects
of Aircraft. Read more
Published 4 months ago by is
1.0 out of 5 stars Rubbish
Absolute waste of time on this very badly written book.

It would have been a rip-off if I had found it at the Poundshop!
Published 4 months ago by D P DRUMMOND
5.0 out of 5 stars Book is excellent
Book is about a plane with unique capabilites,and should not have been retired by this government, an eye opening read.
Published 8 months ago by Celia Shute
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good book.
A very good book about an iconic aircraft that has had it's career cut short in the UK. Thankfully the US Marines have more faith in it.
Published 8 months ago by J. Kneale
4.0 out of 5 stars Jump for Joy
Detailed and fascinating review of one of the UK's most iconic aircraft. A worthy addition to the lists of aviation histories
Published 8 months ago by Mr G Giles
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