James Hamilton-Paterson. Empire of the Clouds: When Britain's Aircraft Ruled the World. London: Faber and Faber, 2010. 'When' is the decade or two after 1945. Apparently not quite as triumphalist as the subtitle would suggest. Has a rather Commando cover featuring a Vulcan. Looks like fun.

Patrick Wright. Iron Curtain: From Stage to Cold War. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. I was in the mood for a Cold War history when I came across this. I enjoyed Wright's Tank and I hope this will display a similar combination of verve and erudition.

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8 thoughts on “Acquisitions

  1. Ah! Where'd you get the J H-P? Been waiting for that to hit these shores. I've been a big fan of his non-aviation writing for many years now, including non-fiction, short stories and novels. Seven Tenths and Gerontius are two favourite books. Looking forward to finding if he's as sharp in a field I know.

  2. Noticed the 'Empire of the Clouds' on my Librarything page when you added. It peaked my interest so it has been added to my wishlist.

  3. Post author


    I got it at Readings Carlton, there were about half a dozen copies there so they must expect it to sell well. Judging from the introduction, I can safely say he's a fan of big, loud, fast aircraft, but not uncritically so. 'One of us'.

  4. Nicholas Waller

    Hamilton-Paterson appeared on the radio not long ago discussing the background to his book; a short bit on the Today show, with the BBC presenter and a retired RAF type.

    "In the period immediately after the Second World War, Britain led the world in designing and building jet aircraft. Author James Hamilton-Paterson and former air chief marshal Sir Michael Knight discuss the lost heyday of British aircraft engineering".

  5. Thanks for that, Nicholas. Pity there was little effort to go into any depth, and why should anyone be surprised 'Britain led the world'? Or is that a facet of the current revelling in decline in the UK?

    Ross - I'm working on a 'Wishlist App' that lifts the real books to me sans effort and cost. As an ex-bookseller (and now part-time one) and bookshop addict, that's some kind of self-defeating blasphemy, I think!

    Brett. Thanks. I try to stay away from there; particularly at this time of year. But then... You up for coffee?

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    It's difficult to read the book without thinking of Britain's current woes, although that's not a parallel made explicitly.

  7. George Shaner

    "Empire of the Clouds" looks good, though the problem with some of these books bewailing the fall of industrial Britain is that they never seem to inquire just how much Britain was undercapitalized post-WWII; that has to be part of the story.

    Or has been seldom been pointed out with the BAC TSR.2 (apart from Tony Buttler in his "Secret Projects" series) that puppy would have been falling out of the sky like the B-58 Hustler and the A-5 Vigilante.

  8. Post author

    That's definitely where Hamilton-Paterson is coming from, but it's not simply a polemic. On the cancellation of the TSR-2, for example, while has a rather bitter quote from its test pilot, Roland Beamont, he has an even longer quote from another test pilot (albeit one who didn't fly it), John Farley, criticising it for its 'lack of wing', for example. It was very fast but would have had the manoeuvrability of a brick, making it highly vulnerable to Soviet air defences.

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