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38 Reviews
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captures the spirit of the V Bomber crews' Cold War perfectly
I enjoyed Empire of the Clouds enormously, and James Hamilton-Patterson is clearly a talented writer. I was expecting something fictional from him after his last documentary output, and was delighted to see the subject matter, so it was with anticipation that I downloaded the book and got stuck in.

My overall impression? Excellently researched, with some real...
Published 14 months ago by A. C. Riches

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad read!
This is a fairly good representation of the V-Force in the sixties. I was a Vulcan pilot at Waddington at the time and well remember the No 1 Group dinner, for instance. There are a few factual errors (eg there are no flaps on the Vulcan) but not many. It's a bit of a corny story and not written with great elegance or fluency. For those who remember the Cold War, the...
Published 13 months ago by Jothla


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad read!, 2 Jun 2013
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This is a fairly good representation of the V-Force in the sixties. I was a Vulcan pilot at Waddington at the time and well remember the No 1 Group dinner, for instance. There are a few factual errors (eg there are no flaps on the Vulcan) but not many. It's a bit of a corny story and not written with great elegance or fluency. For those who remember the Cold War, the V-Force and QRA, the reading of this novel will be enhanced by a great feeling of nostalgia! I've enjoyed his other books more.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captures the spirit of the V Bomber crews' Cold War perfectly, 7 May 2013
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This review is from: Under the Radar: A Novel (Hardcover)
I enjoyed Empire of the Clouds enormously, and James Hamilton-Patterson is clearly a talented writer. I was expecting something fictional from him after his last documentary output, and was delighted to see the subject matter, so it was with anticipation that I downloaded the book and got stuck in.

My overall impression? Excellently researched, with some real nuggets including the fascinating truth about the inevitable cancellation of the Nimrod MR4. Some really good writing, lyrical in parts, that gets across to the reader both the stultifying boredom of much of the V-Bomber crews' lives in the 1960s, and the difficult and sometimes dangerous nature of their profession. The story of the infamous crash at Heathrow in 1956 is also told, yet another example of the insider material to which he has access.

From a storytelling perspective it's 99% there, although there's just not quite enough of it for my taste - the narrative winds up with surprising speed, and another few thousand words strategically placed after the main incident (no spoilers here) and the switch to the present might have worked better for me. However, being intimately familiar with how fiction works, I was happy enough with the end result and will definitely read more by the author. Certainly good enough for five stars (and no, we don't share a publisher and I don't know James personally).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A novel rooted in fact, 14 May 2013
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As an ex Vulcan Nav Radar from the early 70s I found the book full of vivid memories of things I was either aware of at the time or personally experienced. Although promoted as a novel this is is a book rooted in fact and as such deserves to be required reading for all those interested in the history of the RAF and its role as this country's nuclear deterrent.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars under the radar review, 7 Jun 2013
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I had enjoyed the book 'Empire of the Clouds" so I also bought this book. I think it works better as an account of flying than in the development of the characters and plot.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 24 July 2013
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paul crowe "smoggy paul" (sussex, UK) - See all my reviews
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I loved Empire in the Clouds so was interested to see what this was going to be like, combining my aviation interest, one of my favourite aeroplanes, and a period in history charged with tension. Its a mixed bag, interesting to get some insight into what it would have been like on a V Bomber base at that time, and the conventions of the time, plus some details about what it was like to crew the mighty Vulcan, good things and bad. But the attempt to merge fact and fiction just falls short, in my view. There isn't really a plot, as such, and that is a key issue - what IS the story? And the melding of fact and fiction is an issue - much of this reads like an expanded Wiki entry, and references to key events like Skyshield are broadly accurate. But then when you think you're getting some interesting and different views of historical events, clear fiction comes in [British Laser Guided bombs in the early 60's? ECM called 'Oilcan'?]. Its a wistful ending, and while I think I can see where the author is coming from, and even some insight into his own life, in the end it just fails to work. But if you can cope with the defects and take it as a different and gentle read about a specific part of our history, its worth a pick
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not what you would expect, 30 May 2013
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I thought this would be just a cold war thriller but it held a lot of the wit you would expect from James if you have read the Cooking with Fernet Branca trilogy. I founf this book very enjoyable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not wjhat I thought it would be, 16 July 2013
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I expected there to be plenty of action rather than partly being about the Pilot who had doubts about his own sexuality.
What action there was was good though, bit disappointing after some of his other books.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent read., 23 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Under the Radar: A Novel (Hardcover)
I am a military aviation enthusiast, and have read many books on the subject. All in all I found this a decent read, however not one of my favourites. The book started really well, and initially I found it hard to put down, it however drifted away from the main subject in order to concentrate on the main character's love life, and far from subtle connotations about his sexuality, which I felt did nothing for the overall story. The book then returned to the subject of flying, and just as it was becoming interesting, and hard to put down again, with a number of threads of the story coming together nicely, it seemed to end all too abruptly. I felt that the author had set the scene well, for a great ending, to which I was looking forward, with anticipation, but then tried to finish it, in a rush, without fully doing the story justice. He then turned the clock forward, some 40 years, at which point I was anticipating a twist in the tail, however it never materialised. As I say a decent enough read, but one which left me feeling, a little, unfulfilled and frustrated.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Kindle book, 26 Jun 2014
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Mr. E. Bray (North-west United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This is an almost believable tale of a front-line Vulcan squadron, and the antics they got up to, including a fake raid on the U.S. of A. which they succeeded in completing without being detected.
The writer made one classic error, though, he gave a Vulcan FLAPS for landing! Never! Air-brakes, and a drogue chute, yes, flaps, no!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Under the Radar - and below my expectations, 26 May 2014
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If you are ex RAF and want to wallow in a reminiscence-fest about the good old Cold War days, then this book is for you. It follows a crew wrestling with just about everything that can be wrestled - their role, their responsibilities, their place in the world, and in one case, his sexuality.

From the cover notes I was expecting a thriller, and although there is a plot in there somewhere, it takes second place to the reminiscing. Just when you expect it to flare up, it doesn't, and eventually it just fizzles out.

Some of the book is interesting, but probably only to people who are or were in the RAF. For the rest of us, it's not the pot boiling page turner I'd hoped for. I did learn a bit about Britain's nuclear strike capability in the 1960s though, so I did get something out of it.
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Under the Radar: A Novel
Under the Radar: A Novel by James Hamilton-Paterson (Hardcover - 2 May 2013)
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