From the development of the U-2 to the Stealth fighter, the never-before-told story behind America's high-stakes quest to dominate the skies. Skunk Works is the true story of America's most secret and successful aerospace operation. As recounted by Ben Rich, the operation's brilliant boss for nearly two decades, the chronicle of Lockheed's legendary Skunk Works is a drama of Cold War confrontations and Gulf War air combat, of extraordinary feats of engineering and human achievement against fantastic odds. Here are up-close portraits of the maverick band of scientists and engineers who made the Skunk Works so renowned. Filled with telling personal anecdotes and high adventure, with narratives from the CIA and from air force pilots who flew the many classified, risky missions, this book is a riveting portrait of the most spectacular aviation triumphs of the 20th century.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.
©2013 Ben R. Rich (P)2015 Hachette Audio
The details about the SR71 and U2 aircraft
Skunk works up to 1990
Too bad the story ends about 20 years in the past
I am an avid eclectic reader.
Skunk Works is a personal memoir written by the chief engineer of Lockheed’s Skunk Works Ben Rick. The book tells of his first experiences at Lockheed during the 1950s; it ranges all the way past the First Gulf War.
The author describes the varied events that occurred and projects that were undertaken at Lockheed’s aerospace development wing. The first four chapters are about building the first stealth bomber. Rich tells how the name Skunk Works came about. He describes the U2 project and Blackbird.
Rich also tells about his co-workers and particularly his boss the genius Kelly Johnson. He also discusses his colleagues from other agencies such as the Air Force and the CIA. Rich covers many of the technical details and challenges that the Skunk Works’ team faced overcoming engineering problems as well as the difficulties of funding and politics. Rich also covers his personal life including the death of his wife. I enjoyed the comment from various fellow workers from Lockheed, Air Force offices and the various Secretary of Defenses and other political appointees.
This is a great book as it describes the almost impossible challenges the engineers rose to solve. The book is well written and moves right along. This is a book you will want to keep to use as a reference book. Pete Larkin narrated the book.
Overall liked it a lot. Performance was good. The narrator tried to alert you when the chapter or passage was someone else other than the principal contributor but it would be more helpful if those passages were voiced by a different voice actor.
A personal, no-BS account of the drama and politics behind these high budget, cutting edge technology projects. Great balance between the ins and outs and human sides of developing world class aircraft, plus an interesting treatment of the aircraft design legend Clarence Kelly Johnson. Multiple contributors make it a little tough to follow who is talking but overall it is great to hear from pilots and other team members. The reader clearly had a cold while recording the last few chapters but still a solid performance. Excellent listen for Cold War, technology, aircraft, or engineering enthusiasts especially as well as the average reader.
This book would be less than half its current length if told in chronological order. It jumps around a lot in time, starting with the F-117, then jumping back to the start of the U-2 development, following the history of the U-2 from the mid '50's into the Clinton administration, then jumping back to the early '60's to the SR-71. He ends up describing a drone they made at length as a basis of comparison for the F-117, then later in the book they go back to describe that drone's development. The book is thus very repetitive.
No. There's quite a lot of interesting information and anecdotes in this book, and others may not have the style problems this book has.
Only one voice. The book contains quite a bit of dialog and quite a few narrator switches, but the book is read by one man in one voice, so it's hard to keep up with who is speaking.
Honestly, no. It's probably a better idea to read this book in print rather than listen to the audio book version.
The actual meat of the book is very fascinating. These are personal anecdotes mostly from an engineer and later manager of the Skunk Works, along with other engineers, men from the CIA and Air Force, and pilots of the various aircraft. Unfortunately, these amazing stories are done a disservice by the non-chronological style.
I read nothing that is popular.
I couldn't really get into "Skunk Works" because of the reader. Pete Larkin's voice is more like a comic book reader. Almost felt like too humorous at times. I didn't really get attached to the Stealth fighter until the second half of the book. This memoir didn't really appealed to me as it should. I've been reading too much on this genre on memoirs and the military that I should had waited on this one.
Was Ben Rich's career at Lockheed worth writing about? Yes, if you work in the aerospace industry and no, as I didn't get into this book but than again, the same can say of any specific topic.
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