Backroom Boys

Francis Spufford
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ISBN 9780571214976 Format Paperback
Published 02/09/2004 Length 272 pages

About Book

A brilliant, beautiful account of how British boffins triumphed across the decades in creating everything from computer games to Martian landers.

The book contains chapters on the Beagle II, Elite - the 80s computer game, the Blue Streak missile, Concorde, mobile phone technology and the Human Genome Project, among others.

Britain is the only country in the world to have cancelled its space programme just as it put its first rocket into orbit. Starting with this forgotten episode, 'Backroom Boys' tells the bittersweet story of how one country lost its industrial tradition and got back something else. Sad, inspiring, funny and ultimately triumphant, it follows the technologists whose work kept Concorde flying, created the computer game, conquered the mobile-phone business, saved the human genome for the human race - and who now are sending the Beagle 2 probe to burrow in the cinnamon sands of Mars.
'Backroom Boys' is a vivid love-letter to quiet men in pullovers, to those whose imaginings take shape not in words but in mild steel and carbon fibre and lines of code. Above all, it is a celebration of big dreams achieved with slender means.

  • About Francis Spufford

    Francis Spufford was born in 1964. He is the author of five highly-praised books of non-fiction, most frequently described by reviewers as either 'bizarre' or 'brilliant', and usually as both. Unapologetic, has been translated into three languages; the one before, Red Plenty, into nine. He has been longlisted or shortlisted for prizes in science writing, historical writing, political writing, theological writing, and writing 'evoking the spirit of place'. In 2007 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He teaches writing at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and lives near Cambridge. His latest book is his first novel, Golden Hill

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