A Chronology of Aviation: A Day-by-Day History of a Century of Powered Flight.

Author:Willey, Scott A.
Position:Book review
 
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A Chronology of Aviation: A Day-by-Day History of a Century of Powered Flight. By Jim Winchester. London: Amber Books, 2013. Tables. Illustrations. Photographs. Index. Pp. 160. $24.35. ISBN: 978-1-78274-067-4

There have been quite a few chronologies of aviation or aerospace published over the years. Most are primarily just what they say: a chronological listing of whatever the author considers major events in the history of aviation--not terribly useful unless one just wants to know what happened on some date in the past.

Winchester is a British aviation author who has taken the genre an order of magnitude further. Of course, the subtitle "Day-by-Day History" is ridiculous, just as are those titles wherein authors claim to have written "The Complete ..." No one can write a complete history of anything, and no one can compile a day-by-day history, either. But Winchester has included hundreds of events from A.D. 1010 through early 2013 in one of the best chronological histories of aviation I have seen--albeit at the overview level.

And that's probably where this book excels. If some visitor to the National Air and Space Museum were to ask me to recommend a one-book history of man's quest to conquer the air, I think this would be it. And, with a quite good narrative and over 260 photos and illustrations, it isn't just a dry listing of things that happened. Winchester breaks the history of aviation into eight periods: first steps, pioneers and perils, 1914-1918, the birth of passenger aviation up to World War II, the war years, breaking records, the Cold War, and the modern era. Within each of these chapters is a narrative covering the world situation, the social context of the aviation advances, technology improvements, and the major events associated with the period. The pages are in two-column format with the...

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