[Download] Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years of Lockheed By Ben R. Rich, Leo Janos

Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years of Lockheed

By: Ben R. Rich, Leo Janos
Narrated by: Pete Larkin
Length: 12 hours
Release date: Jul 14, 2015
Rating: 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (122 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)

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From the development of the U-2 to the Stealth fighter, the never-before-told story behind America's high-stakes quest to dominate the skies Skunk Works is the true story of America's most secret and successful aerospace operation. As recounted by Ben Rich, the operation's brilliant boss for nearly two decades, the chronicle of Lockheed's legendary Skunk Works is a drama of cold war confrontations and Gulf War air combat, of extraordinary feats of engineering and human achievement against fantastic odds. Here are up-close portraits of the maverick band of scientists and engineers who made the Skunk Works so renowned. Filled with telling personal anecdotes and high adventure, with narratives from the CIA and from Air Force pilots who flew the many classified, risky missions, this book is a riveting portrait of the most spectacular aviation triumphs of the twentieth century.
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70 Responses to “[Download] Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years of Lockheed By Ben R. Rich, Leo Janos”

  1. Mazie B.

    fantastic read! worth your time for sure. but…
    this was a great read. Very interesting and keep my attention the whole way the one thing that I didn’t really like was the order at which things were laid out. I would have preferred things be laid out in chronological order. It doesn’t take away from the book either way really. Just personal preference.

  2. Arden B.

    I really know about the bomb now!
    Not what you expect. It goes way back to childhoods of key players, which was a little too detailed at times but via these stories you learn a lot about the world in the decades before WWII. And their research and the huge challenges they overcame to pursue the quest of atomic fission.

    Fascination begins when Teller and other scientists begin to unlock and understand nuclear fission. Here all the details make for a great story and some terrific anecdotes.

    In depth history of Nazism and its impact, Roosevelt, political intrigue, power plays, it’s a great true story.

    He takes a tack against the huge civilian death toll the Allies used as a strategy to win the war. Very thought prolong and well presented.

    My favorite was when they finally get Oppenheimer planning the location for the Manhattan Project (know why it’s called that?) and then the ongoing buildup and research and decisions that led to that first successful test.

    And it goes on with deep history of the decision to drop it, where to drop it and maybe best of all, Tibbits and the Enola Gay, their training… the bombing run.. the horrible results.
    And how all this planted the seeds for the Cold War.

    Probably should be a must read for either high schoolers or college freshmen.

    Highly recommend.

  3. Customer

    “the most secret projects in the free world”
    Exceptional book! I have listened to these great stories like hardly ever. A must read for everyone who is interested in the history of technology, politics or war.

  4. Everett Matskin

    This is an excellent book for the military nonfiction junkie. These guys are unsung heroes!

  5. Chanelle Mccalebb

    Great Story, Can’t tell if new person speaking
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

  6. Neely Pudenz

    This is one of the best books I have ever read. I highly recommend it!

  7. Marinda Aimbez

    Great listen.
    Worth the time and money. Very entertaining. Having worked in military aviation I found the story of skunk works to be very interesting and couldn’t agree more with Ben Rich ‘ s opinion of defense spending and government mismanagement.

  8. Dylan Elftman

    Quick Quiet Quality
    Would you listen to Skunk Works again? Why?

  9. Duncan Kohnz

    Very interesting insights into the process
    A very interesting book. Provided insights on the Skunk Works I hadn’t seen before. The challenges on the U-2, F-117, and SR-71 were all very interesting displays a substantial bias towards Lockheed Martin and Skunk Works products, though that’s not surprising. He also rather blithely assumes he knows the ‘true motivations’ of any officers that don’t support his ideas — it MUST be careerism or short-sightedness, couldn’t possibly be that they didn’t trust Lockheed and disliked Kelly Johnson’s ways.

    I did find the sequencing a bit odd — they didn’t talk about the planes in order of development.

    The narrator was pretty good. However, two things annoyed me:
    1) There was a lot of discussion about SAC. The narrator always pronounced this as "S – A – C," but no one familiar with it would do so — it’s always "SAC" (like sack).
    2) There were several references to Russia’s Tyuratam. The narrator pronounced this as "Tie-your-a-Tam," but it should just be "Ture-a-tam" (with Ture pronounced like pure)

  10. Ricarda Zenbaver

    very intriguing
    this book was very intriguing and interesting the whole way through. it was difficult to keep up with chronologically because of the way it jumped around

  11. Chantal T.

    As an aerospace engineer, I loved every word!
    Absolutely incredible insight to ideas, processes, problem solving, manufacturing and overall intellect of the Sink Works. A must read for all aircraft lovers

  12. Fletcher V.

    Interesting but too short to cost almost $18 bucks
    Very interesting story and fun to see into Lockheed for a change. But worth the money though

  13. Billie Z.

    I have always loved airplanes. the Blackbird is the best. I enjoyed hearing about the problems working with this strange new metal that made the skin of the SR71.
    Hearing the names I grew up hearing about. Well worth the time it took to listen to.

  14. Julie

    Absolutely fascinating
    I’ve heard of the Skunk Works and had a general idea of what the term referred to, but this book tells the story, and it’s a fascinating story. The author makes what could have been a dry and merely scholarly account of the development of some of our most successful aircraft into a riveting story. It’s a crucial part of our history, presented in a way that is entertaining and informative and interesting, weaving together the elements of the ideas, the engineering, the problem solving and the personal stories of so many who were part of the saga. The writing and narration were spot on.

  15. elorc

    Fantastic book
    The content of the book itself is fantastic, full of the author’s personality and offering a fascinating tale of the evolution of Lockheed’s Skunk Works. Further, the performance is excellent.

  16. Chante Nasson

    great read
    A really interesting story of some very famous planes including the U2 SR71 and F117. It was engaging, interesting and informative.

    If you have any interest in aeroplanes you should stop reading this review and get this book.

  17. Amanda Belschner

    very good.
    I have always wanted to know what the skunk works did and to know how aircraft like the sr71 and the f117 came about. this was a fun read, I really enjoyed it.

  18. Melina Featheringham

    Very interesting audio book
    This book was enjoyable and pleasant to listen to audio book, I recommend it to anyone.

  19. Olen Merklein

    Excellent book
    Thrilling and entertaining. What a book!!! If you like airplanes, this is the one to read.

  20. Lashawnda Karsnak

    Excellent read for anyone interested in aerospace and project management
    This book does an excellent job detailing the history of some of the most fascinating air craft programs of the past 70 years. It also does a great job lending the costs and tribulations of the project and programmatic challenges when deleting on sensitive programs and the hurdles faced by leadership and technical staff.

    I’ll be recommending this to a few people and it should be a required book for technical project management.

  21. Allyn B.

    fascinating story about aviation development
    the narrative jumped around a bit and the last part about Ben Rich’s ideas for improving military procurement was slow going. overall, though it was a interesting story about how high performance aircraft were developed and operated.

  22. The Kindler

    Beautiful Birds
    Astounding Memoir of some of the most innovative aviation advancements ever made. The U2, SR-71, and the F-117 are the main focuses of this narrative but other airplanes are mentioned. This details the struggles, successes, and failures of Lockheed’s Skunk Works and the story of Ben Rich. If you like airplanes, this is a must have and you will not regret it.

  23. Samyag

    a wonderful story describing the beauty of great r and d that would give America it’s advantage for decades in the military field

  24. Leigh Greenfeld

    Great book for anyone interested in the subject
    The stunning accounts and great storytelling kept me hooked despite the sometimes quite technical talk. It’s an amazing piece of history that very few people even know and as such having a story right from the source is fabulous.

  25. Audrie I.

    Discount John Wayne tells schoolchildren about the Skunkworks
    Excruciatingly difficult to listen to, and gave up about and hour in. This target audience for this book is clearly kids in the third grade. The author can’t go more than a paragraph or two without adding awkward analogies to make his point. Pair this with the narrator’s delivery and it sounds like a discount John Wayne speaking to schoolchildren about what it was like to build a stealth fighter.

  26. ibrahim sultan

    Very detailed and well thought
    As a Mechanical Engineer, I find this book very interesting and helpful, I look up to these kind of engineers, the little stories that have been told were Awesome.

  27. Lloyd Cychosz

    A 3 hour audiobook stretched to 12 hours
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

  28. Bryan J Allen

    Great read!
    I absolutely loved this book. The story is great, with enough technical detail to keep you satisfied and full of larger than life men from days long gone. The narrator’s tone makes it sound like Ben Rich is telling sea stories from the back porch over a couple drinks. I strongly recommend it to anyone with a love of aerospace history or just good storytelling.

  29. Geoff E.

    A must for any military aircraft enthusiast!
    Awesome peek behind the scenes of the Skunk Works and the development of it’s most famous projects such as the U2, SR-71 (or as it was intended to known the RS-71), the F-117, and other aircraft and systems, as told through the eyes and memories of it’s second great leader Ben Rich.

  30. Kristopher Schehl

    This book has some really wonderful aspects and some preachy ones. The history, behinds the scenes accountings, and perspectives are amazing! Some of the people get pretty preachy and some of the claims are pure ego. I don’t see a need to belittle the achievements of others to prop up their own. Their advertisements truly stand on their own.

    I like how he includes “other voices” in the book. However; it gets really hard to remember who is who. The narration really needs multiple people voicing all the “other voices”

    Still, well worth the read and/or listen.

  31. Nathan Primeaux

    Great historical insight, but very 1 sided
    Overall I liked the book and the historical information about the Skunk Works. At times it came across as a little self idealizing, but overall a good look inside a very important company in the American defense industry.

  32. Retta Giebler

    Great insight to a tremendous company.
    A well written and read story about the development of some of the great military aircraft.

  33. Jessie Sones

    well worth the read
    Loved getting the inside story about the development of the most innovative aircraft ever produced. The narrator did a great job and I would definitely recommend this book.

  34. Martin Stansberry


  35. Stephen T. Coomes

    Great listen for military aircraft fans!
    This was an extremely interesting look into the skunk works and the amazing aircraft that those engineers produced. It’s an inspiring tail not only of can-do people, but smart businesses in action. It also gives a deep look into just how badly our military and government mismanages taxpayer money. Never at any time was that board with this story. Highly recommended!

  36. Andre Zachary Arguelles

    For those who love stealth and leadership
    This was one of the greatest reads I have had. This book is a must for anyone who works in the world of engineering or leadership. There is a constant feeling of excitement, fear, understanding, and honor. If you are just looking for a casual read or are in the mood to learn some leadership ideals, this is the book for you.

  37. Waldo C.

    Government official must read list.
    For everything wrong with leadership, industry, and the future of America’s work force, look no further…

  38. Demetrius Pullings

    great book on problem solving
    loved it! just what I needed to understand what it takes to mesh research with development.

  39. Robert D Rosenberger

    Great book
    My grandfather was a skunkworks engineer and worked on two of there most famous aircraft. After he retired he read this book and was blown away by the amount of detail it goes into about skunkworks projects. There are many great insights in this book about the Cold War and politics behind some of the greatest technological projects in American history. Definitely a great book.

    The narration seemed really slow so I bumped up the speed to 1.2 and it was much better.

  40. Jimmy Smallen

    This story is unmatched. A

    This is a fantastic read,however
    This story is unmatched it makes me proud to be an American, and the Skunk Works could only happen here in a free country and under a profound free enterprise system. However why does an author,any author suppose that by frequent taking the name of the Lord in vain makes this or any story more real or authentic is beyond me and is extremely offensive and as a result will not pass on an otherwise wonderful story. This is not only unacceptable but extremely offensive. D J

  41. Regan Portie

    Awesome Look into Lockheed’s Skunk Works
    If you could sum up Skunk Works in three words, what would they be?

  42. Joan Reardon

    A must read for any aviation enthusiast!
    I loved this book from beginning I end. It was extremely captivating and told a very interesting story of how Lockheed’s Skunk Works developed some of the most interesting aircraft in the world.

  43. Customer

    Technical and Historical Balance
    This book strikes a good balance between technical details and historical discussion. In addition to giving insight into the internal workings of Lockheed’s Skunk Works program, there are also many stories of Air Force and CIA missions from the Korean war era through the Dessert Storm era.

  44. Dakota Brackenbury

    One word to describe the stories contained. wow
    Perfectly told stories and great lessons to be had. If you want to understand how and why to run a small research firm this is the book to read

  45. Alnico Cunife

    Learning from the past
    If you could sum up Skunk Works in three words, what would they be?

  46. Caitlin R.

    amazing technology and leadership !
    amazing technology and leadership related in an easy to understand format. I loved listening to it!

  47. Eduardo Holiman

    Very entertaining and informative
    I loved this book, and I am far from being an engineer! This book gave great information on the stories behind our military aircraft. It made me appreciate those great minds behind the scenes of our military.

  48. Elden Kissling

    Comic Reader
    I couldn’t really get into “Skunk Works” because of the reader. Pete Larkin’s voice is more like a comic book reader. Almost felt like too humorous at times. I didn’t really get attached to the Stealth fighter until the second half of the book. This memoir didn’t really appealed to me as it should. I’ve been reading too much on this genre on memoirs and the military that I should had waited on this one.

    Was Ben Rich’s career at Lockheed worth writing about? Yes, if you work in the aerospace industry and no, as I didn’t get into this book but than again, the same can say of any specific topic.

  49. Marianna Ade

    great book
    Dedinitely worth a credit. The story is amazing and there are lots of takeaways that could improve your team’s efficiency

  50. Marvin Kupres

    Totaly worth the listen.
    If you like to tinker, airplanes, inventing, the occasional joke, this will keep your interest.

  51. Marcel Hogarth

    Very Interesting
    Kept my interest throughout. While I like nonfiction somebooks are to long. This book kept my interest throughout.

  52. Nisha Depaola

    Great aviation business book
    Great aviation business book. History bluffs of American history would love to read this book. Entertaining and engaging.

  53. Hugo Winick

    Awesome if you’re into aerospace.
    The last hour or so gets a bit drawn out but overal I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

  54. Ashleigh Tutela

    my summary of the book
    bureaucracy of the Air Force, Navy, Lockheed management adds inefficiency and cost. the freedom and Independence of the Skunk Works division equals advancement and progress.

  55. Nyla Klish

    Loved it!
    Such a good book. I couldn’t put it down. Ben Rich gives an exciting insight into something so secret. definitely reading again

  56. Customer

    Simply Fascinating
    If you’re an admitted tech-nerd like me, you will enjoy the story behind one of the most secret operations in our life time. Multiple points of view, anecdotes, and technical info combine to keep you riveted throughout the entire reading.

  57. Mariano Debski

    Incredible and touching story, coupled with a fantastic voiceover. I really felt like I was listening to the protagonists speaking

  58. Isaac M.

    Great listen for designers and makers
    Lots of good details on the design and manufacturing along with the context in which it all happens. If you are into the development of complex systems you’ll enjoy the book.

  59. Marcelo Rendel

    Ben Rich’s life story…but not in that order
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

  60. Donnetta Polino

    Awesome book and read!!
    Second audiobook and I loved it. Had a great time listening, very easy to follow and at times very technical. Great voice-over, well done.

  61. Janie Nathe

    I loved it
    This was enjoyable listen, the story of some of the greatest aircraft in history. I have been an aviation buff since my youth in the 60s when you could write to aircraft manufacturers and they would send you 8×10 photos of their plains. I would read books on WWII air war, go to air shows and knew all the different military aircraft of the time. Skunkworks brought that all home to me. Well written and narrated. The story of the U2, SR71 and the F117 was fascinating. for anyone interested in the history of aviation after WWII, read this book. You won’t be disappointed. I was sorry to get to the end.

  62. Darius Farnes

    An amazing story about the discovery and development of stealth technology. The description of planes, engines, and everything else are not overly technical, so it would be a great read / listen for anyone. The final chapter also had a handful of thoughts and ideas that are applicable to design and development today.

  63. Sammy Mody

    Skunk Works
    This book was an amazing story of what a few determined men can do given the opportunity. Ben and Kelly developed some of our countries greatest planes on minimal budgets.
    I have found myself looking for additional information about Ben and Kelly on the internet. It was very interesting to see how things have progressed since this book was written in the 90’s, almost exactly as Ben predicted.

  64. Teressa Hibble

    Any additional comments?

  65. Wm Rosewall

    Good Read- technical enough ..and I like technical
    Would you listen to Skunk Works again? Why?

  66. Michael Merceir

    GREAT book!
    Absolutely loved the book. My only complaint is the reader’s voice is a little nasally.

  67. Mervin S.

    Great Listen!
    I really enjoyed this book, so much so that I’ve listened to it twice and will likely again!

  68. Johana Maccoll

    Surprisingly touching book
    I didn’t expect to have a tear in my eye while reading a book about the team who created some of the most advanced weapons of war. As well as the details of engineering there is a thread connecting the human relationships of the team members. Lots of interesting details about the era in which these planes were developed, the secret side to foreign relations and intra-agency politics. Overall a great read. I definitely will read it again.

  69. Terrence Heuser

    Enthralling story about best of the best
    Loved it from the first verse to epilogue. Contained lots of interesting details about the challenges of building marvellous planes, both technical, organisational and politically induced. You also learn about performance of the planes developed by the skunk works team in conflicts and intelligence efforts. Everything sprinkled with anecdotes and humour that at times had me rolling
    Often had to force myself to stop listening

  70. Clark S.

    Interesting look at an unseen part of US military
    Really good book if you want to geek out on a great part of engineering history.

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