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Dam Buster: Barnes Wallis: An Engineer s Life

Richard Morris

4 Reviews

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20th century, c 1914 to c 1918 (including WW1), c 1939 to c 1945 (including WW2), Biography: historical, political & military, First World War

The fascinating untold story of one of Britain's greatest engineers, the man behind the bouncing bomb

'A stunningly good and surely definitive biography of one of the most fascinating British engineers ever to have lived' JAMES HOLLAND

Barnes Wallis is remembered for contributions to aviation that spanned most of the 20th century, from airships at its start to reusable spacecraft near the end. In the years between he pioneered new kinds of aircraft structure, bombs to alter the way in which wars are fought, and aeroplanes that could change shape in flight. Later work extended to radio telescopy, prosthetic limbs, and plans for a fleet of high-speed cargo submarines to travel the world's oceans in silence.

For all his fame, little is known about the man himself. Dam Buster draws on family records to reveal someone thick with contradictions: a Victorian who in his imagination ranged far into the 21st century; a romantic for whom nostalgic pastoral and advanced technology went together; an unassuming man who kept a close eye on his legacy. Wallis was last in a line of engineers who combined hands-on experience with searching vision. Richard Morris sets out to locate him in Britain's grand narrative.

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Praise for Dam Buster: Barnes Wallis: An Engineer s Life

  • A comprehensive, deeply researched and insightful portrait of Wallis, one of Britain's greatest engineers - Daily Telegraph

  • Fascinating . . . Morris does a sterling job of re-establishing Wallis's reputation as an innovator in countless fields, in highly readable fashion - Observer

  • A riveting biography of Barnes Wallis . . . a probing yet thoughtful account - BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE

  • The definitive full-length life of Wallis . . . a biography that anyone with an interest in Britain's military engineering past will read with profit - The Past

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Richard Morris

Richard Morris (b. 1947) is an archaeologist and historian. He grew up in north Worcestershire and began his career working on excavations under York Minster. Among the themes in his writing are buildings and belief (Churches in the Landscape (1998); Evensong (2021)), place, identity and cultural memory (Time's Anvil (2013); Yorkshire (2018)), and aviation and its people. Dam Buster joins two earlier biographies - Guy Gibson (1994) and Cheshire: the Biography of Leonard Cheshire VC (2000) - which connect in the world of flight and the deeds of No. 617 Squadron RAF.

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