Chasing the Demon

A Secret History of the Quest for the Sound Barrier, and the Band of American Aces Who Conquered It
Narrated by: John Pruden
Length: 8 hrs and 39 mins
4 out of 5 stars (117 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The New York Times best-selling author of Viper Pilot chronicles another thrilling chapter in American aviation history: the race to break the sound barrier.

In the aftermath of World War II, the United States accelerated the development of technologies that would give it an advantage over the Soviet Union. Airpower, combined with nuclear weapons, offered a formidable check on Soviet aggression. In 1947, the United States Air Force was established. Meanwhile, scientists and engineers were pioneering a revolutionary new type of aircraft which could do what no other machine had ever done: reach mach 1 - a speed faster than the movement of sound - which pilots called "the demon."

Chasing the Demon recreates an era of excitement and danger, adventure and innovation, when the future of the free world was at stake and American ingenuity took the world from the postwar years to the space age. While the pressure to succeed was high, it was unknown whether man or machine could survive such tremendous speeds.

A decorated military pilot with years of experience flying supersonic fighter jets, Dan Hampton reveals in-depth the numerous potential hazards that emerged with the Air Force’s test flights: controls broke down, engines flamed out, wings snapped, and planes and pilots disintegrated as they crashed into the desert floor. He also introduces the men who pushed the envelope taking the cockpits of these jets, including World War II ace Major Dick Bong and 24-year-old Captain Chuck Yeager, who made history flying the Bell X-1 plane faster than the speed of sound on October 14, 1947.

Chasing the Demon recalls this period of the emerging Cold War and the brave adventurers pursing the final frontier in aviation.

©2018 Ascalon, LLC (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Chasing the Demon

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Not at all what it purports to be

If you’re looking for a book in the vein of “The Right Stuff,” do yourself a favor and buy The Right Stuff. This is my first Dan Hampton, so I can’t compare it to other works, but I expected a story of the background of the pilots and the development at Edwards AFB, and even after reading negative reviews gave it the benefit of the doubt and went in excited. In truth, the bulk of the book is about the World Wars with a vague theme of the desire to fly faster, the last eighth focusing on the X-1 and the jets that pushed it up. If the book were titled tidbits of military aviation history and why I believe Yeager wasn’t first even without valid documentation, it would have been less of a letdown.

4 people found this helpful

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Chasing the Demon

Story is very weak and does not reflect the title at all, Has nothing to do with the X-planes.

2 people found this helpful

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Definitely not “The Flight”

I have read and enjoyed many of Lt. Col. Hampton’s books including the story of Charles Lindbergh in “The Flight”. That’s what I thought this was, a focused story of achieving supersonic flight. Instead it is a wandering story that spends what I would estimate is less than 25% on the actual topic. There is a lot of material on early flight that doesn’t contribute to the main story. For a better history of early flight I’d recommend “The Wright Brothers” by McCollough. Then comes an overly long history of World War I and II which I think could have been summarized in a single chapter for this story. Most disappointing is that Gen. Chuck Yeager’s efforts are very nearly an afterthought, considering I expected the book — similar to “The Flight” — to be focused on achieving the first fully documented supersonic flight.

2 people found this helpful

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No meat

Too much pre- history to breaking the sound barrier and not enough on actually breaking it.

1 person found this helpful

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Storys of Real men.

Another great history lesson from Dan Hampton for the modern reader and a great performance by John Pruden.
I really love feeling like i am getting to know these men. Men who served our country and deserve to have their stories told.

1 person found this helpful

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History lesson..

This is good aviation history lesson but took a long time to get to breaking the sound barrier.
Need to hang in there to get to the point if the book.

1 person found this helpful

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A crossroads of aerospace development and world history

This audio book was an insightful and fascinating account of how world events and aircraft development were, and continue to be, intertwined. In addition to the technical concepts presented, which is done in easily-understood terms, substantial background is given on the historical figures and personalities, some well known and others not so much, including early theorists, engineers, and pilots, which provided the contextual backdrop to the larger story.

The narrator also did a great job with keeping the listener’s interest, and making this an enjoyable experience.

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A good overview of WW2 air war.

A good overview of WW2 air war, with a BRIEF but detailed story of SuperSonic flight.

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Much more history before the demon

I was a little surprised by how much of this book spent in the WWII days talking about the pilots. Certainly they have to set the stage of aviation in general, but I was say at least half the book was focused on the pilots pre-attempting to break the sound barrier. I was also surprised about the possible other person to break the sound barrier before Chuck Yeager. A decent book overall.

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History lesson

The lead up to the x1 story is quite long and detailed. Not bad just not exactly what I was expecting.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-05-18

pile of shit

hay cunts this is a pile of shit get Tom Wolfs book The Right Stuff instead! it would be better if the reader had my cock in his month wile reading oh yes oooooi

1 person found this helpful