Fascinating review Mr Lloyd, and having just finished reading my copy (also bought as a present), I think where I'd take issue is the author's apparent disparaging of civiil aircraft. 'Aerial buses' is probably meant a little more tongue in cheek than the bald statement suggests because where he does cover civil aircraft, the real efforts and bravery of the test pilots involved, he does so with respect. He does make it clear at page 8 and elsehere that his emphasis is on the aircraft which made the most impression on him at the time, which explains the very obvious subjectivity of the book as a whole.
I agree the subtitle is misleading, but not necessarliy for the reasons you state, for in a book of this size, it would be impossible to cover all the apropriate aircraft. However, in view of the author's pretty frequent references to the UK falling behind the USA and the Soviets in the aero industry from a very early post-war stage, the subtitle seems a contrdiction in terms.
There are few non-technical books on any subject which are not subjective and this one is no different, which gives plenty of scope for dicussion, agreement and disagreement. In this case I think we have a highly readable book, that notwithstanding its faults gives a flavour of days long gone.
I sincerely mean no offence to your review and thank you for making it accessible.