Title: Jet Age
Author: Sam Howe Verhovek
About a month ago I was in Seattle and had finished the book I had brought with me. Searching the shelves at the Barnes & Noble at Pacific Place I spied this book, which is subtitled "The Comet, the 707, and the Race to Shrink the World." Being in the land of Boeing, it seems like a good choice. I will admit sheepishly that the review snippets also were attractive. The Wall Street Journal mention the book features "big money, war, sex, and power." Wowie, sex in a plane book? The New York Times says "Jet Age is a page-turning detective story." Cool.
So, does the book live up to this billing? Of course not. Well, unless you think sex is about how flight attendants were conceived and implemented. (Get your mind out of the gutter, I don't mean conceived in that sense...) And in my opinion, this isn't much of a detective story. What the book is however; is a really great, though at times simple, telling of how jet airliners "shrunk the world" and changed all of our lives forever. I wished for more detail about the men and the planes, and the inner-workings of Boeing and DeHavilland, but upon reading that the author was a journalist it is clear that he intended this book as an extended newspaper piece. Cover the basics, include some socio-economic thoughts, maybe a tad bit of personal observation, and not get too in-depth. Please don't get me wrong, it is a good book and a fun, quick read, but after recently reading Empire of the Clouds I was hoping for a little bit more than the book delivered. Also, as a Canadian I was disappointed that the Avro Canada Jetliner was relegated to little more then a paragraph. I have to admit I'm not sure you can tell the story of the rise of jet airliners without a more detailed account of Avro Canada's project, but maybe that is just national pride talking.
All in all it was a fun starting point on the subject and the perfect choice for a flight back to Akron on "a big ol' jet airliner." It also is interesting to think...and as noted by the author...that without the events told in this story, there is no way I'd be involved in a bicoastal relationship in 2012. Thanks Boeing and DeHavilland (and Avro Canada)!