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‘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.


Richard Morris's riveting biography of Barnes Wallis . . . characterises Wallis as a flawed yet indomitable genius . . . it is a probing yet thoughtful account of the brilliant mind behind that raid and many other aeronautical feats
Royal Air Force News
Despite his fame, little was known about the man and Morris, author of a biography of Guy Gibson, tells the fascinating untold story of Barnes Wallis
The Times
A thorough and dutiful account of the designer's journey from airship to spaceship. Morris puts emotional clothes on the man himself, chronicling Wallis's enduring and loving relationship with his wife, Molly . . . the book fleshes out Wallis, revealing his vulnerability . . . What comes through in Morris's book is the unevenness of his legacy
The Past
The definitive full-length life of Wallis . . . a genuinely gripping narrative . . . Richard Morris has brought his subject to life with considerable skill . . . a biography that anyone with an interest in Britain's military engineering past will read with profit
Richard Morris's biography is the best and most detailed to date of the celebrated engineer Barnes Wallis
Saul David, Daily Telegraph
A comprehensive, deeply researched and insightful portrait of Wallis, one of Britain's greatest engineers
Alexander Larman, The Observer
Fascinating . . . Wallis was in the unenviable position of being one of Britain's most talented engineers who was nevertheless under-appreciated in his lifetime . . . [Morris] does a sterling job of re-establishing his reputation as an innovator in countless fields, in highly readable fashion
James Holland, author of BROTHERS IN ARMS
A stunningly good and surely definitive biography of one of the most fascinating British engineers ever to have lived. Morris skilfully picks through the myths, the legend, and the ever-evolving narrative to put flesh back onto the bones of an unquestionably brilliant, but also highly complex, figure. The time-span of Barnes Wallis's career, which cut through the heart of the 20th century, including two world wars and into the Cold War, was remarkable, and Morris not only paints an astonishingly vivid portrait of the man, but also of the time through which he lived.
Tony Buttler, AMRAeS, Aerospace magazine, Royal Aeronautical Society
A superb book ... beautifully written ... for an account of a major name in British aviation history this is, I would suggest, as good as it can get. It is a superb read and I highly recommend it to anybody interested in aviation