Book: Backroom Boys (The Secret Return of the British Boffin)

Not really a “return” more a story of… smaller and grander successes and failures…

The Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin The Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin by Francis Spufford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved every piece of this book. One of the best non-fiction I have read.

Six chapters/sections on various “British” scientific endeavors: Black Knight (Rockets to Space!), Concorde (Wow!), Elite, Cellphones (I still hate Oftel), DNA (Saving the Human Genome project from corporate America) and Beagle 2 (our last, best hope).

Every one well written. Every one a good length. Every one compelling.

In a parochial somewhat British way all of these stories struck a chord, but they are also great stories. I’m a non-scientific geek (see stories 1 & 6). I work with cellphone software (see story 4); my high school years impacted by the games world of Elite (see story 3); Concorde is… Concorde (see story 2) and the Human Genome Project and Wellcome Trust (story 5) makes me believe defeating corporate America is possible (it was almost stolen from the world, and the American public by the American law that forbids the State to compete against private enterprise).

You might also like How Mumbo-jumbo Conquered the World if you like this; but read this first.

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