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Spitfire: Portrait of a Legend Hardcover – 18 Oct 2007


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; First Edition edition (18 Oct. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719568749
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719568749
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 24.1 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 417,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Praise for ROSEBERY: (.)

Stunning ... As well as being meticulously researched, it is beautifully written and has tremendous pace (Literary Review)

Absorbing ... McKinstry has here proved himself to be a first-class historical biographer (Mail on Sunday)

With masterly skill and sympathy, Leo McKinstry resurrects him as the Hamlet of late Victorian England (Daily Mail)

An authoritative and original biography which is also a riveting read' (Spectator)

Superbly well-researched and well-written ... A truly first-class addition to the genre of Prime Ministerial biography (Sunday Telegraph)

'An absolutely wonderful biography ... gripping and entertaining' (Evening Standard)

'A first class biography, scholarly, judicious and always interesting' (Glasgow Herald)

'Remarkable' (Country Life)

'Judicious, well-researched and engrossing' (Sunday Times)

'This is undoubtably the definitive biography of Rosebery. Written with elegance, clarity and well-judged colour' (Jonathan Parry, Times Literary Supplement)

'It does a wonderful job of conjuring up the lost world of late Victorian politics' (Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Telegraph)

'Admirable biography of a paradoxical figure whose tenure at No 10 was a disaster' (Jeremy Lewis, Sunday Times)

Book Description

The gripping saga of the plane that carried Britain through the Second World War


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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Book Enthusiast on 22 Oct. 2007
Format: Hardcover
I am currently reading this book, and can assure those who are considering purchasing it, that the author does in fact discuss the Spitfire in a fair manner. I have heard the author speak about the book in London, and the comments of two former Battle of Britain Spitfire pilots, who were both convinced of the accuracy of this work. Contrary to what Sean has written, the author does discuss radar and the early warning system, Dowding and RAF command, the change in German strategy during the battle, the role of the Hurricane, and other aircraft, as well as many other points including the politics behind the project. I have not yet finished, but from what I have read so far, I can strongly recommend to anyone who has an interest in both the legend of this famous aircraft, and the true story behind it. I would suggest not taking too seriously the comments of someone who has based their opinion of a 417 page book on a 7 line synopsis.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Big Beautiful Doll on 23 Oct. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Like the aircraft itself, this is an elegant piece of work with a depth of sophistication and understated complexity, totally befitting the subject matter! Unlike 'Mr Tuffet' below, I believe one needs to at least read the subject matter at hand before making such unqualified sweeping statements. Shame on him!..But more importantly, more fool him, as this study of R J Mitchell's finest hour tells the lesser known 'warts and all' story of this historic plane without the usual romanticisms.

From Beaverbrook, to the enlisted men on the ground who all worked so tirelessly to get, and then keep this legend in the air, I found this an enlightening and, at times, somewhat disturbing account of a national icon that quite literally may NEVER have been! One can scarcely imagine it now, but the pre-war blinkered adherence to the 'total bomber' doctrine, the factory workers who at times even refused to put her together mere weeks before The Battle of Britain, and the governments hell-bent attempts to cancel the project, give a huge insight into the somewhat darker 'unglossed' days of this extraordinary aircraft.

The research that has gone into this work is extensive. As a result, the author offers a refreshing new perspective on the conceptualisation, manufacture, and implementation of the beautiful Spitfire design. Fluid, and engrossing, this work is a compelling read. I was sat on my 'Maffett' throughout, eager and hungry for the next chapter!

A must for all those who think they know all there is to know about this amazing plane, and those associated with it. A joy to read !
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By K. Lowe on 26 Oct. 2007
Format: Hardcover
I wanted to give this book four stars, but have given it five to counteract the ridiculous one star review given by Sean Moffat below. What on earth possesses someone to write a review of a book they haven't even read? Mr Moffat is reviewing the Amazon blurb, rather than the book - but surely everyone knows that this is written by the publisher, not the author.

Anyway... now that I've got that off my chest, what I really wanted to say was that this was a good solid book about the Spitfire, with the emphasis firmly on the way the plane was produced and modified, but with plenty of in-the-cockpit action as well. It is well-researched, especially the parts describing the chaos at the Supermarine company in the run-up to the war, which meant that far too few Spitfires were produced in time for the Battle of Britain. The author isn't quite Pierre Clostermann, and it's a bit short on tales of derring-do - and the Spitfire's role in the war after 1942 is glanced over fairly quickly - but, as the subtitle says, this is a 'portrait' not a comprehensive history. Still, I reckon he does discuss just about every aspect of this wonderful machine, if only briefly.

In short, it's worth a read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By VinyltoCD on 4 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback
Leo McKinstry's aviation books offer possibly the most balanced view of his topics . Unlike many others they spend as much time discussing the the political, operational and manufacturing backgrounds as the do the merits of the specific plane. I learnt lots of new things here - specifically many readers will be surprised that the government (and Air Marshalls) of the time actually wanted to scrap Spitfire production in favour of the Westland Whirlwind twin engined fighter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By birchden on 19 July 2013
Format: Paperback
This is a rambling mish-mash of a book, in which a journalist with no obvious aviation credentials has set down a load of info relating to the Spitfire - some of it pretty loosely - to produce a long-winded and stodgy narrative that never feels very authoritative. True there is a often a lot of detail, but do we really need to know that Lord Nuffield liked to extol the virtues of Sodium bicarbonate? Do we care?

As others have noted, this is neither a design history of the aircraft nor an operational history. It is also quite uneven, with some episodes looming large and other equally important ones barely visible.

I bought my copy with a keen sense of anticipation, but ended up gloomily skimming through the turgid narrative until I was relieved to get to the end. Since then it has sat on the shelf, never to be looked at or consulted again, and its next move will likely be into a charity collector's bag.
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