Skunk Works

A Personal Memoir of My Years of Lockheed
Narrated by: Pete Larkin
Length: 12 hrs and 8 mins
Categories: History, Military
4.7 out of 5 stars (7,512 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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

What listeners say about Skunk Works

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Ben Rich's life story...but not in that order

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

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.

Has Skunk Works turned you off from other books in this genre?

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.

What three words best describe Pete Larkin’s performance?

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.

Was Skunk Works worth the listening time?

Honestly, no. It's probably a better idea to read this book in print rather than listen to the audio book version.

Any additional comments?

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.

47 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing book

Amazing book for anyone who likes cold war stories or aviation story. An inside look on the development of the most amazing airplanes ever developed.
The audio book could have benefit from multiple readers, sometimes it's hard to keep track on whom is telling a specific story as everyone is interpreted by the same reader. The book does not follow a linear storyline, it goes back and forth on time, so you need to pay attention to not get lost

25 people found this helpful

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AN INSIGHT BEHIND AREA 51's BLACK PROJECTS

Any additional comments?

Captivating, informative, and very engaging read - but I think the information is presented in such a way that a reader from any background can appreciate and understand the story and the amazing achievements to design the Stealth Bomber, U2 & more. Is very often very amusing. Area 51 is not what you think, it is to me even more fascinating than I guessed.

This book adds a huge amount of perspective and previously unknown background info to the story of the iconic Lockheed planes, it tells the story in many chapters written by the author, but also in other chapters from the different perspectives of people that designed and flew the planes, among others. Rich and his co-writer go into interesting details about the engineering challenges faced and the benchmarks required of some of the best and most secretive airplane programs of the Cold War era.

It provides a window into the personality and character of the iconic Lockheed Skunk Works, figures of this time period. Also, a great deal of interesting added perspective on the military industrial complex contract-garnering process. This book is a very interesting historical account presented in a page-turner format.

As for UFO's, he says: "Problem is you have to make them spin, & the aliens would not tell us how to do that". Then he abruptly changes the subject. Interesting indeed.

14 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Nice work for a techie or aero interested

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.

28 people found this helpful

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Awesome

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.

49 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Glad the Skunks Works are an American Company!

Loved this books. Would have given it 5 on story but there are occasions when the book gets a little geeky on production, finance, procurement, accounting issues which are necessary but get a little boring. But the books was still great.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A story of real cold war super science.

The narrator sounded like what you would expectone of the two fisted engineers at skunk works would sound like. The story was a riveting tale of the Cold War hijinks engineers of the Greatest Generation were up to.

4 people found this helpful

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Intriguing look behind the most amazing aircraft

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.




14 people found this helpful

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Awesome book.

Thank you for all the hard work. Who knows what would have happened without them

9 people found this helpful

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Great listen

A little hard to keep up with who the author is speaking for but great book and story on skunkworks

14 people found this helpful