Top positive review
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Engaging, readable and thought- provoking
on 22 December 2010
This a very engaging account of a career in avionics, beginning aged 16 with radar in the war, through post-war civil and military aids to navigation and flight safety, as well as diplomatic intrigue and a management buyout before they became fashionable. As such, it provides delightful insights into defence procurement, different attitudes to innovation between British, German and American interests, and more evidence of why Britain was unable to capitalise on the legacy of its amateur (in the best sense of the word) ingenuity after the war.
The book assumes some knowledge of electronics and radio theory, but as a lay reader, the narrative still moves along at a good readable pace- 120-odd pages in a couple of hours.
Whilst I would agree with another reviewer that this is not the book for a comprehensive account of reader work at Bawdsey Manor, it doesn't claim to be that. I think the subtitle and the clever play on words in the title, as well as the publisher's description, all make it clear what the author set out to do, and I think he has succeeded admirably. The whole point of this book is that it puts the wartime work into the wider context. Mr Goult continues with Swanage and Malvern and the part they played in the rest of the war, not least turning the tide in the Battle of the Atlantic, for more or less half of the book. This is interspersed with fascinating insights into about life on the Home Front as a young man engaged on important work, whilst also serving in the Home Guard and studying in the evenings.
The post- war account is equally fascinating. It describes cold war intrigue, political interests and the struggles of an entrepreneur against a background of important advances around such aircraft as Buccaneer and Phantom, as well as autoland systems used in civil aviation.
The author describes himself in the subtitle as a `witness'. This is typical of the modesty and self-deprecating charm perhaps typical of a generation more interested in the interest and vital importance of the work than in personal gain.