Tag Archives: Book Review

Book Review: Predator: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution

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arj-78-bookAuthor: Richard Whittle

Publisher: Henry Holt & Company, L.L.C.

Copyright Date: 2014

Hardcover: 368 pages

ISBN-10: 0805099646

ISBN-13: 978-0805099645

Reviewed by: Dr. Julien Demotes-Mainard, Senior Analyst, Avascent Europe, Paris Office

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The American Warfare State: The Domestic Politics of Military Spending

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arj-77-book-reviewAuthor: Rebecca U. Thorpe

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Copyright Date: 2014

Hard/Softcover/Digital: Available in all three media, 245 pages

ISBN: 9780226124070 (Softcover)

ISBN: 9780226123912 (Hardcover)

ISBN: 9780226124100 (e-Book) Available online at http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/A/bo17607479.html

Reviewed by: Professor Trevor Taylor, Cranfield University, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom

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To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design

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arj-76-book-reviewAuthor: Henry Petroski

Publisher: Vintage

Copyright Date: 1992

Hard/Softcover/Digital: Softcover, 272 pages, http://www.amazon.com/To-Engineer-Is-Human-Successful/dp/0679734163

ISBN-10: 0679734163

ISBN-13: 978-0679734161

Reviewed by: Henry Petroski, professor of Civil Engineering and History, Duke University

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Book Review: Forged in War: The Naval-Industrial Complex and American Submarine Construction, 1940–1961

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arj-75-book-reviewAuthor: Gary E. Weir

Publisher: Naval Historical Center

Copyright Date: 1993

Hard/Softcover/Digital: Softcover, 314 pages, available online at http://www.amazon.com/Forged-War-Naval-Industrial-Submarine-Construction/dp/0756766400

Reviewed by: Stafford A. Ward, Department of Defense civilian at the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

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Book Review: The Dream Machine: The Untold History of the Notorious V-22 Osprey

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book-coverAuthor: Richard Whittle

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Copyright Date: 2010

Hard/Softcover/Digital: Softcover, 456 pages, http://www.amazon.com/The-Dream-Machine-History-Notorious/dp/1416562966

Reviewed by: Dr. Owen Gadeken, Professor of Acquisition Management, Defense Acquisition University


Richard Whittle’s The Dream Machine is as close to a comprehensive review of a defense acquisition program as we are likely to find in our current “sound byte”-focused culture. It traces the controversial and frequently maligned V-22 Osprey program from its earliest days to its vindication in 2011 after successful deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Whittle does this through the eyes of the key personalities in industry, government, and the U.S. Marine Corps who made the “dream” of tilt rotor technology into a reality with some of them giving their lives in the process.

One of the key figures profiled in the book is Richard “Dick” Spivey who started in 1959 as an 18-year-old Georgia Tech “co-op” student at Bell Helicopter in Fort Worth, Texas, worked his way up to “sales engineer” for the new tilt rotor, started a family, divorced, remarried, retired, came back as a consultant, and retired for good in 2006—all before the V-22 achieved its initial operational capability. During his tenure at Bell Helicopter, he traveled all over the world giving over 2,000 tilt rotor briefings and sales presentations.

The book is organized into 12 chapters, each one covering a specific facet of the V-22 story. For example, Chapter One “The Dream” traces the early attempts to develop a “convertiplane,” which although unsuccessful, still offered the promise that such technologies could eventually be made to work. Chapter Two “The Salesman” uses Dick Spivey’s career to illustrate the opportunistic, but persistent process used by defense contractors to market their products to the military. Chapter Three “The Customer” traces the convoluted requirements development and procurement processes used by the military to acquire the equipment they think they need. Chapter Four “The Sale” shows the extremely lengthy, but clever approach used by Bell and Boeing to market their immature tilt rotor technology into a systems contract with the Marine Corps. Other chapters detail the engineering trade-offs and political compromises made during development of the first V-22 prototypes. The author also provides detailed accounts of the major aircraft crashes that occurred as a result of tight funding, design compromises, and accelerated development, which drove the program in its early years.

The author’s ability to integrate the key personalities that shaped the V-22 program into a chronological narrative that includes all major program events makes this not just a historical account, but a fascinating and insightful look at how dysfunctional our “military-industrial” complex has become. But with further reflection and analysis, the story of The Dream Machine can also help us find the way forward to construct an improved acquisition process, which will help us deliver our future dream machines.

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reading-list-logoThe Defense Acquisition Professional Reading List is intended to enrich the knowledge and understanding of the civilian, military, contractor, and industrial workforce who participate in the entire defense acquisition enterprise. These book reviews/recommendations are designed to complement the education and training that are vital to developing the essential competencies and skills required of the Defense Acquisition Workforce. Each issue of the Defense Acquisition Research Journal (ARJ) will contain one or more reviews of suggested books, with more available on the Defense ARJ Web site.

We encourage Defense ARJ readers to submit reviews of books they believe should be required reading for the defense acquisition professional. The reviews should be 400 words or fewer, describe the book and its major ideas, and explain its relevance to defense acquisition. Please send your reviews to the Managing Editor, Defense Acquisition Research Journal: Norene.Fagan-Blanch@dau.mil.

Book Review: Engineering the F-4 Phantom II: Parts Into Systems

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arj73-bookAuthor: Glenn E. Bugos

Publisher: Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press

Copyright Date: 1996

Hard/Softcover/Digital: Hardcover, 258 pages, http://www.amazon.com/Engineering-F-4-Phantom-II-Systems/dp/1557500894

Reviewed by: Lee Vinsel, Program on Science and Technology Studies, Stevens Institute
of Technology
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Book Review: Adapting to Flexible Response, 1960–1968

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book-cover-adaptingSeries: History of Acquisition in the Department of Defense, Volume II

Author: Walter S. Poole

Publisher: Office of the Secretary of Defense, Historical Office

Copyright Date: 2013

ISBN: 978-0160921834

Hard/Softcover: Hardcover, 467 pages

Reviewed by: Dr. Roy L. Wood, Dean, Defense Systems Management College, Defense Acquisition University
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Grounded: The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force

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Grounded The Case for Abolishing the US Air ForceAuthor(s): Robert M. Farley

Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky, Lexington

Copyright Date: 2014

ISBN: 978-0813144955 (hardcover);
978-0813144979 (ePub)

Hard/Softcover: Hardcover, 264 pages

Reviewed by: Aleisha R. Jenkins-Bey, Assistant Editor, Defense ARJ

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Engineers of Victory: The Problem Solvers Who Turned the Tide in the Second World War

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enginners-of-victory-bookAuthor(s): Paul Kennedy

Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks

Copyright Date: 2013

Available Online: http://www.amazon.com/Engineers-Victory-Problem-Solvers-Turned/dp/0812979397

Hard/Softcover: Softcover, 480 pages

Reviewed by: Dr. Glen R. Asner, Senior Historian, Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense

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Agents of INNOVATION: The General Board and the Design of the Fleet That Defeated the Japanese Navy

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ARJ-68-book-reviewAuthor(s): John T. Kuehn

Publisher:  Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland

Copyright Date: 2008

ISBN-10: 1591144485
ISBN-13: 978-1591144489

Hard/Softcover: Hardcover, 296 pages

Reviewed by: Robert G. “Bob” Keane
Mr. Keane is currently the President of Ship Design USA, Inc.

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