Chasing the Demon: A Secret History of the Quest for the Sound Barrier, and the Band of American Aces Who Conquered It
History is all about breaking barriers. Whether we’re talking physical ones, social ones, or scientific ones, barriers serve as ideal walls for intrepid individuals to crash through like the Kool-Aid Man, pushing humanity forward with a mix of gumption, inventiveness, and sheer force of will.
Breaking the sound barrier was one of the first highly-publicized events of its kind — akin to the quests for the North and South Poles — and Chasing the Demon recounts the incredible efforts to understand the barrier and conquer it. The book explores both the development of supersonic technology and the life stories of the test pilots and innovators who made breaking the sound barrier possible.
Although it is absolutely loaded with detailed information on the planes themselves, at times the book feels a bit like a college essay, in that there are numerous diversions and extraneous filler passages that feel like they’re padding out the length rather than adding to the narrative.
Some of the diversions work, like the story of Pancho Barnes, but others are distracting. The World War II details, while historically interesting, meandered far enough from the topic at hand that it felt like a passage from another book shoehorned in.
|Page Count||352 pages|
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