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Last Days of the Concorde

The Crash of Flight 4590 and the End of Supersonic Passenger Travel
Narrated by: Teri Schnaubelt
Length: 8 hrs and 53 mins
Categories: History, 21st Century
4 out of 5 stars (18 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The gripping true tale of a devastating plane crash, the investigation into its causes, and the race to prevent similar disasters in the future. 

On July 25, 2000, a Concorde, the world's fastest passenger plane, was taking off from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris when it suddenly burst into flames. An airliner capable of flying at more than twice the speed of sound, the Concorde had completed 25 years of successful flights, whisking wealthy passengers - from diplomats to rock stars to corporate titans - between continents on brief and glamorous flights. Yet on this fateful day, the chartered Concorde jet, en route to America, crashed and killed all 109 passengers and crew onboard and four people on the ground. Urgent questions immediately arose as investigators scrambled to discover what had gone wrong. What caused the fire? Could it have been prevented? And, most urgently, was the Concorde safe to fly? Last Days of the Concorde addresses these issues and many more, offering a fascinating insider's look at the dramatic disaster, the hunt for clues, and the systemic overhauls that followed the crash.

©2018 Cineflix Media Inc. and Smithsonian Institution (P)2019 Tantor

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A Solid Introduction

Chittum's focus is steady if somewhat distant from the precipitating event in Concorde's demise, providing a nice ingress into a subject. The tone is scholarly but with a journalist's linguistic accessibility (there are no obtuse phrases like, "journalist's linguistic accessibility," in Chittum's book, and it's the better for it.). She introduces us to some of the key figures in the events of Concorde's crash and does a serviceable job conveying the emotional toll of that horrible day and the subsequent aftermath.

Chittum plays the aftermath pretty much down-the-middle, a totally valid choice that, none-the-less limits the potential resonance of a book about Concorde. There's a brief section about the reaction of Queens (New York) residents to the cessation of Concorde flights that illuminated some of the socio-economic impacts of Concorde. In addition to being a technological marvel, and beautifully crafted airplane, it was also a plaything of the super-rich that significantly degraded the lives of citizens living beneath its flightpath. The sentiments of residence living near JFK airport was better characterized as, "good riddance," than sorrow about the cessation of Concorde flights.

The detour in Queens was brief and Chittum sticks primarily to the accident that brought down Concorde and the reconstruction of that accident by investigators. It's a zippy narrative that I enjoyed.

Narration: I don't think I ever once thought about the narrator, which earns it an A+ in my book.

Note to publisher: That cover design is some rough stuff. It is, objectively, a nice design, but one would be challenged to come up with a less sympathetic image. Holy mother.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • 08-02-19

Needed editing and fewer units.

Many errors, very grating conversion of every measurement unit used (and many not even correct).

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Very detailed

Running re-cap tires (to 1996) on a plane that takes off at the speed of a formula one car and has the weight of a bulldozer on them. 5 times the rate of tire failure compared to subsonic planes.

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End of an Era

Chittum does a good job of describing the chain of unlikely events that culminated in the crash, and ultimately, the scrapping of the Concorde. She casts the loss of the unique aircraft as a loss to the world of aviation, and so it is.

Teri Schnaubelt's narration grows more irritating as she plods her way through endless lists of measurements rendered at least twice each - once in imperial measure, once again in metric - and occasionally three times as she converts feet to yards or yards to miles.

Clearly, Chittum intended her book to be a definitive source of information on the topic, but perhaps the overwhelming pile of data could have been included in an appendix where it would not have cluttered the narrative with numbers and measurements.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful