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3.9 out of 5 stars7
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 11 May 2009
The thing I like about this book, as well as May On Motors, is the style of James's writing. It is though he is talking to you directly and explaining interesting stuff through speech rather than the written word.

James puts a few wrongs right in the book, giving due recognition to the true inventors of famous and interesting things. Many "so called facts" are laid to rest. For example, Ferdinand Porsche did not invent the VW beetle! If you enjoy James May on the TV, then you will enjoy this (and May On Motors) book. My hope is that he will soon write some more.
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on 24 August 2009
A generally good book version of the `James May's 20th Century' TV series, which chronicles the technological developments of the twentieth century with a thematic rather than chronological narrative. This is, on the whole, a decent and at times highly readable account of the technology behind (say) the Moon landings, the development of the radio and how technological development impacted on popular culture. Being a book, more detail is allowed than in the TV series. But it's not perfect by any means. Most jarring are several basic factual errors, the blame for which must lie jointly with May himself, co-author Phil Dolling and their editors - chief of which are persistently referring to the Moon as a planet, and naming Anthony Burgess - as opposed to either Guy Burgess or Anthony Blunt - as one of the Cambridge spies. Could do better.
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on 23 May 2012
I am a fan of James May and have purchased most of his published works. I like his chatty, conversational style. There are lots of fun little stories and facts about great things that were invented at home in the garden shed by normal people rather than in a lab with a team of experts. Well worth reading if you like May's other books.
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on 3 August 2009
Good book on the whole. Could have been a little more detailed but then I suspect that it's just a quick facts book.

Was a little annoyed at the references in the back, for me they should have been in the main body of the text as they were only one or two lines each.

Having said that I recommend this book to anyone.
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on 26 February 2015
A must have for any James May fan with a massive collection
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on 7 January 2016
Bought for my husband who loves James May's books.
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on 30 April 2009
I've managed to get 82 pages into this until I've had to give up. So far he's discussed powered flight, the motor car and computers. In every chapter I've found glaring factual errors and misunderstandings of some of the basics.

This book appears to have been written by someone who did all his research online without checking it and never spoke to anyone about the facts.

Someone who says about computers "I can't stand the things" at the start of a chapter is never onto a winner. He then proceeds to muddle up the histories of different computers. He described the difference engine as something that was unbuildable due to lack of engineering skills at the time. Wrong.

He also repeatedly describes the moon landing as the first time man has walked on another planet. Pardon? The moon is not a planet.

I used to lik James May, but after reading the first few chapters of this I realise he's on a different planet. Avoid at all costs.
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