Customer Reviews


30 Reviews
5 star:
 (15)
4 star:
 (9)
3 star:
 (4)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soggy chips and vaunting ambition
At last someone has written down the stories of all the pipe-chuffing uncle-figures who were once my heroes. And what a great job Francis Spufford has done.
It would be easy to caricature the quiet, understated passion of men whose ambition stretches from the suburbs to the stars. While Spufford's writing is full of funny human detail, he never takes that easy line...
Published on 13 Jun 2004 by Hugh Mason

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More a collection of essays, but a good read even so
This book is about 'back room boys' a phrase coined during the war for those mostly anonymous people who did amazing research and produced much of the technology which helped win the war and create the modern world.
The book isn't quite what the title would suggest. It is really six long essays on six different areas of technology without any overarching link which...
Published 22 months ago by Simon Binning


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

5.0 out of 5 stars A good read....., 30 Jun 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I was interested in this book when it was first published - then a friend got it and I read it...... and re-read it.......and read it again. It's interesting, slightly eccentric and entertaining. So now it is on Kindle, it made sense to get it. I liked it!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars A celebration of genius, 13 Jun 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book is for those who didn't know Britain had a space program, who don't understand why or how the programmers of the computer game "Elite" were so fiendishly clever and several other subjects.

It is a celebration of the genius of gifted scientists making do without huge budgets and still pulling off world firsts. The only part I didn't complete was the section on the Human Genome, for some reason the writing didn't quite gel for me. That aside it is a great book which you don't need a university degree to understand and includes an update to the final section which sets out how great Beagle 2 will be only to have to inform us in the update that it crashed and burned.

The question is, what great stories are there to be written in the future about today's scientists?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A great book for any lover of science or engineering, 11 Jun 2012
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin (Paperback)
This is a marvellous book,telling the story of the British rocket programme, the Elite computer game, Vodafone, the Human Genome Project and last, and least, Beagle 2. It maybe does not match up to "Red Plenty" - what can? - but it is still well worth buying and reading.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Great Stocking Filler, 5 Jan 2012
By 
J. Tolley (Worcestershire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin (Paperback)
I have bought two copies of this book for male members of the family this Christmas, and both have been entertained by the book. Great for anyone who has a bit of "geek" in them, and has an interest in modern British history and nostalgia.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not really the history it claims to be, but still a good read, 7 Dec 2010
By 
D. R. Cantrell (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin (Paperback)
Unashamedly biased, this paean to engineers is written in much the same vein as popular science books are. In other words, it's light on detail and it focuses to a far greater degree than is strictly accurate on a few individuals, painting them as heroes battling against an enemy. This makes it good light reading. It tells a few short stories, and tells them well, aiming to give an overview of the purported renaissance of engineering. Unfortunately I don't think it does a particularly good job of telling what engineering is really like these days, seeming to concentrate primarily on a few small project teams and juxtaposing them with The Other of nasty large foreign concerns. But real engineering throughout the world - especially the best of it - consists mostly of small teams and small companies, the giants that we've all heard of such as Tata, Shell, and Boeing being very much the exception to the general rule.

Aside from that there are two other glaring errors, both in the chapter which waxes lyrical about the justifiably famous early video game "Elite". Throughout the rest of the book Spufford does a very good job of explaining technical concepts in ways that are accessible to a well-educated layman. Unfortunately he fails, in my opinion, in explaining some of the concepts necessary here.

Furthermore, this is the one place in the book where he makes a prediction, and he gets it wrong. In lamenting the passing of the "bedroom coder" in the video games industry, and opining that the future belongs to large studios, he missed one of the biggest events in recent video game history, namely the advent of the iPhone, which has many excellent video games developed by individuals or by very small companies. Some of them even work in their bedrooms. The fast pace of hardware innovation, the rapid development cycle of pure software products with no pesky manufacturing, and the low cost of software development means that software engineering is almost uniquely suited among engineering disciplines to individual endeavour.

But even with those errors, it's a damned fine read. Recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it!, 13 Dec 2009
This review is from: Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin (Paperback)
An excellent book. It is literate, tells a good yarn at just the right pace, and it is obvious that the author is just as fascinated with the people involved as with the technology. A very worthwhile read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars boring over wordy style - couldn't finish the book in the end as I ran out of patience with it, 2 Dec 2006
This review is from: Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin (Paperback)
A potentially good book spoiled through lack of editing. The stories are good but badly told. The author spends too much time getting on with it and not enough time moving the story on. Each chapter starts well

but then drags. The most dissapointing chapter being the one on the human gnenone project. For good 'can't put it down' techie books try, Longitude, The Calendar, The Code Book, Fermats Last Theorem etc.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a book., 3 July 2014
By 
Duncan Tribute "Duncan Truro" (Truro, Cornwall) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
What can I say - It's a book and I haven't read it yet.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So So, 22 Oct 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin (Paperback)
I find this overwritten. The factual content is interesting and often touching, but there are just too many words devoted to getting it across. The author is so concerned with his own cleverness and gossipy wording, I frequently lose track of what's he's going on about. Right in chapter 1, one minute I'm reading about Black Knight, then all of a sudden I'm reading about Black Arrow, and I'm not sure how we got from one thing to another, but I do know about C.S. Lewis and Arthur C. Clarke in a pub.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A very good example of how not to write a book., 6 Dec 2006
By 
Stephen Curtis (South Wales) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin (Paperback)
The subject matter of backroom boys is excellent and the book is both informative and in some places funny, I could have realy enjoyed it except for the constant wafle, blah blah and repeats. In the end - no before the end (chapter five) I had to give in, I just could'nt take more...
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin
Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin by Francis Spufford (Paperback - 2 Sep 2004)
£6.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews