Empire of the Clouds: When Britain's Aircraft Ruled the World Hardcover – 20 Oct 2011
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' ... a magnificent account of British aviation, when a new Elizabethan age seemed to have dawned of supersonic derring-do ... brimful of racy incident and exquisitely written ... this book stands out as a hymn to Jet Age glory days, and a marvel of reminiscence besides.' --Ian Thomson, Evening Standard
'A beautifully written re-creation of a vanished cultural and technological landscape. [Hamilton-Paterson's] achievement is to capture perfectly the mood of the 10 years after the second world war when British heroes seemed to rule the skies ... this wonderful book is a study in failure, the story of swashbuckling heroes tilting at windmills while their masters frittered away Britain's technological inheritance. And yet ... what lingered in the mind were the memories of the ''golden men and golden machines that unquestionably blazed amid the dispiriting muddle.'' ' --Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times
'Empire of the Clouds is a splendid, meticulous and stylish story of wonderful machines and the men who made them. It is also a tale of fudging, incompetence, malice, complacency and ignorance. It is a story of defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. It is a very British tale indeed.' --Michael Bywater, The Independent
Empire of the Clouds by James Hamilton-Paterson is a brilliant, nostalgic and provocative look at the golden age of British aircraft, from the post-war jet age to the recent sad decline, now in a glorious illustrated edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The author: James Hamilton-Patterson has written on President Marcos of the Philippines, the World's Oceans, Elgar; has published poetry, children's books and the brilliant trilogy (so far, but we can hope) on Gerald Samper, Tuscan sybarite and cook extraordinaire.
My opinion: if you're not particularly keen on airplanes, don't bother. If you are, however, you're in for a treat - this is great stuff. A very appealing writing style: knowledgeable, well-researched, witty, informative - and enthousiastic, even poetic in places ("brooding anhedral"). The 'planes such as the Meteor, the Vulcan and the Lightning (and many more) are treated like the personalities they are. The test pilots who flew them, the companies that built them, the politicians and civil servants who scrapped them, or vacillated until they became obsolete... there is both enthusiasm and fury here, but both very well written and argued.Read more ›
The author's use of language is frequently poetic to the extreme and evokes feelings of nostalgia even if you weren't around in the 1950s to remember the events he describes as well as provoking wide grins of recognition if you have even the slightest love for the roar of a jet fighter or bomber cavorting in front of a crowd.Read more ›
This book brought it all back, and highlighted the astonishing bravery of the test pilots - flying in ordinary clothes, in planes that were of dubious design, and working for a pittance, for the autocratic peers of the industry.
Rightly or wrongly a variety of governments meddled with and, in effect, destroyed the UK aviation industry - we are left with BAe who make the wings for the European Airbus. During the glory days of this book, we were building (badly in many cases!) a huge variety of military and civilian aircraft - Meteors, Canberras, Lightnings, Vulcans, Vampires, Comets, VC10s etc etc - beautiful creatures of the sky - and the things that made us look up.
I remember a particular Latin lesson at school in the 60s, when a rather delicious sound was droning past the window and the whole class turned to watch. "And now a pause to marvel at the modern piston engine in flight" entoned the Beak.
The book details the extraordinary companies (De Havilland, Hawker Siddley, Gloster etc.) many and various businesses who had made the wonderful aircraft that helped us win World War 2, and who were still expecting to continue with their designs and be funded by the tax payer... perhaps the government was right after all?
Fun times! My first job was working for Hawker Siddeley at Hatfield - on Tridents and what was to become the BA146. As a new graduate trainee I was given the opportunity to be "ballast" on a Trident test flight - so I jumped at the chance. The plane was empty of seats - just some lumps of lead as weight, so I sat up near the cockpit. Bliss!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well written and very interesting if you like aeroplanes, especially the more technical stuff about how they fly and what problems the developers had whilst evaluating and test... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Mr. M. Kostyrka
This is the second copy of this I've bought, this time for a present. It's just brilliant, very evocative and full of great tales. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Paul Harmer
bought this on a whim but so glad i did. If you have any interest in UK aviation especially the period after the war and how we lost our way, this is a very well written and... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Boundary10
This is one of my favourite books. The writer is well-informed and has done extensive research. It shows how much the modern world owes to some very brave men, the test-pilots. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Mr. I. S. Pogson
Most interesting and well written book, which arrived promptly and in good condition.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
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