Book Review: Wide-Body

Date:         18 Jan 93 08:20:24 PST
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While browsing in a Boston bookstore, I found a book "Wide-body, the triumph
of the 747" by Clive Irving, Investigative reporter, London Sunday Times.
William Morrow and Company, 1993, ISBN 0-688-09902-5.

>From a quick perusal, the book seems to be fairly specific in technical 
details, with description of the development of the swept wing, the XB-47, 
the B52, Dash-80 (707) and 727. There are a few photographs, mainly of 
XB-47, B52s, 707 and of Boeing engineers and executives.

Here's what is printed on the inside flap of the cover:

In the 20th century, a handful of American companies have-with the 
introduction of a single product or product line- literally transformed the 
lives of millions. Among them are Xerox, IBM and AT&T. But only one
company -Boeing- undertook the single massive speculative leap, 
a billion-dollar gamble, of the kind that resulted in the 747 and ultimately 
transformed the world's transportation habits.

Today, little more than 20 years after the first 747 rolled off the line, 
the Boeing Jumbo is probably the most recognizable artifact of American 
technological achievement in the world. Yet behind-the-scenes story of its 
birth is largely unknown.

In Wide-Body, Clive Irving shows how the creation of the 747 transformed the 
destiny of the Boeing Company and, at the same time, how such a "bet the 
company" decision was very much of a piece with Boeing's history, going 
right back to its roots and remoteness in the Pacific Northwest.

The story of the 747 is an aviation adventure of the first order. The odissey 
of the plane is studded with heroism under pressure, technological wizardry, 
and a tradition of test pilots deeply imbued with the right suff.

Equally fascinating is the story of the business culture behind the plane: 
a culture shaped by a generation of brilliant young engineers who made Boeing
the world leader in commercial aviation. Often in dispute, always innovative, 
they were led by a lawyer, reluctant to accept the job, who became steely 
nerved in the face of gigantic risks. To win primacy, Boeing had to 
outperform its two most-feared rivals, Douglas and Lockheed. Several times 
the outcome was in the balance. There were agile deals with generals, often 
frustrated by double dealing politicians. The company's fate culminates in a 
secretive deal between two magnates determined to dominate their respective 

There has never seemd a better time to be reminded of this triumphant and 
uniquely American business story.

Alan Arnaud