• Last Days of the Concorde

  • The Crash of Flight 4590 and the End of Supersonic Passenger Travel
  • By: Samme Chittum
  • Narrated by: Teri Schnaubelt
  • Length: 8 hrs and 53 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (70 ratings)

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Last Days of the Concorde  By  cover art

Last Days of the Concorde

By: Samme Chittum
Narrated by: Teri Schnaubelt
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Publisher's Summary

The gripping true tale of a devastating plane crash, the investigation into its causes, and the race to prevent similar disasters in the future. 

On July 25, 2000, a Concorde, the world's fastest passenger plane, was taking off from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris when it suddenly burst into flames. An airliner capable of flying at more than twice the speed of sound, the Concorde had completed 25 years of successful flights, whisking wealthy passengers - from diplomats to rock stars to corporate titans - between continents on brief and glamorous flights. Yet on this fateful day, the chartered Concorde jet, en route to America, crashed and killed all 109 passengers and crew onboard and four people on the ground. Urgent questions immediately arose as investigators scrambled to discover what had gone wrong. What caused the fire? Could it have been prevented? And, most urgently, was the Concorde safe to fly? Last Days of the Concorde addresses these issues and many more, offering a fascinating insider's look at the dramatic disaster, the hunt for clues, and the systemic overhauls that followed the crash.

©2018 Cineflix Media Inc. and Smithsonian Institution (P)2019 Tantor

What listeners say about Last Days of the Concorde

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A Solid Introduction

Chittum's focus is steady if somewhat distant from the precipitating event in Concorde's demise, providing a nice ingress into a subject. The tone is scholarly but with a journalist's linguistic accessibility (there are no obtuse phrases like, "journalist's linguistic accessibility," in Chittum's book, and it's the better for it.). She introduces us to some of the key figures in the events of Concorde's crash and does a serviceable job conveying the emotional toll of that horrible day and the subsequent aftermath.

Chittum plays the aftermath pretty much down-the-middle, a totally valid choice that, none-the-less limits the potential resonance of a book about Concorde. There's a brief section about the reaction of Queens (New York) residents to the cessation of Concorde flights that illuminated some of the socio-economic impacts of Concorde. In addition to being a technological marvel, and beautifully crafted airplane, it was also a plaything of the super-rich that significantly degraded the lives of citizens living beneath its flightpath. The sentiments of residence living near JFK airport was better characterized as, "good riddance," than sorrow about the cessation of Concorde flights.

The detour in Queens was brief and Chittum sticks primarily to the accident that brought down Concorde and the reconstruction of that accident by investigators. It's a zippy narrative that I enjoyed.

Narration: I don't think I ever once thought about the narrator, which earns it an A+ in my book.

Note to publisher: That cover design is some rough stuff. It is, objectively, a nice design, but one would be challenged to come up with a less sympathetic image. Holy mother.

5 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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End of an Era

Chittum does a good job of describing the chain of unlikely events that culminated in the crash, and ultimately, the scrapping of the Concorde. She casts the loss of the unique aircraft as a loss to the world of aviation, and so it is.

Teri Schnaubelt's narration grows more irritating as she plods her way through endless lists of measurements rendered at least twice each - once in imperial measure, once again in metric - and occasionally three times as she converts feet to yards or yards to miles.

Clearly, Chittum intended her book to be a definitive source of information on the topic, but perhaps the overwhelming pile of data could have been included in an appendix where it would not have cluttered the narrative with numbers and measurements.

2 people found this helpful

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Mediocre at best

I wanted to get into the details of what happened. This was told in minutes so the hours of the book included peripheral information that is only mildly relevant.
I couldn't stand the sections where every number was converted from meters to feet and the like.
Overall, I consider this to be a mediocre read. An American Airliner dropped a part on a RWY, said part was picked up by the landing gear which sent the part at great force in the fuel tanks and the plane burned... That's about the story I think.
I do not recommend this book

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Number conversion hell...

The good: It's an interesting book that goes into great detail on the development of the Concorde as well as the crash and following investigation. The narrator has a pleasant voice and is a nice change from the male voices in every other book I have listened to on Audible.

The bad: This is a book about an air crash investigation, so there are a lot of numbers. This is fine and to be expected. The problem is that the author insist on giving both metric/imperial measurements AND conversions to different units of measure EVERY TIME they read a number! Normally, conversions wouldn't bother me, but in a book on a topic like this - it renders some sentences so long and broken up that you forget the point. Consider this sentence (not a direct quote, but is conveys my point, and there are many in the book just like this): "The plane, due to it's weight of two hundred tons / four hundred thousand pounds - OR - one hundred eighty one metric tons / one hundred eighty one thousand kilograms, was unable to take off and skidded eight hundred thirty three yards / two thousand five hundred feet - OR - 0.72 Kilometers / seven hundred sixty two meters, before coming to a halt". Insane right? Tough to read? Try listening to it in an audio book... This can literally happen five or six times in a few minutes! VERY distracting.

I do a lot of driving, and normally can listen to a book of this length over the course of 2 or 3 days. I had to muscle through this one over the course of 3 to 4 weeks, listening to it a little at a time before becoming frustrated.

Hope this helps.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Go Christian Go!!!!

So Sad! Very informative! Helped me develops a love for this beautiful aircraft!!!!
Come back!




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The history of the Concorde

Here's a rule for you... if a plane crashes and there's no survivors, the author is going to have to come up with something to fill out the book. In this case, the author uses the history of the plane as the filler. Overall it's not bad, but it repeats a ton of the same information and can get dry at times.

Overall it's like a 3-out-of-5 book, where you read it and go, meh, what's next. It's neither good or bad, it's just meh.

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Captivating

Narrator is brilliant. The inside detail is not all distracting. Rather, it makes the story m ore personal and intimate.

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great inside story

when it is concorde no questions asked. liked the narrators voice!. great book hope to have some more about concorde.

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Overall very good

Although there are small technical mistakes (e.g., “knots per hour”), generally this complicated subject was well-explained. It made for a fascinating read. And the narrator did a good job with the French pronunciation.

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nice to have the story in one place

It's a pretty good book but I also found the constant conversion of units to be a little bit annoying. There were also more than a couple of occasions where the wrong units were used all together for example when she mentioned several thousand tons of fuel :). I've not quite sure I understand her changing voices when she was quoting men speaking. In any case it was an interesting and sometimes emotional listen that provided cohesion for information which I mostly already knew.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-08-22

Absolutely amazing

Love the book & the detailed story. I don’t speak French, but still, the pronunciation was great! Apart from the American ’aluminum’ .. that drives me crazy

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • paul baldwin
  • 02-07-22

Narrater

A powerful poignant story ruined my poor narration from someone who clearly by the awful pronunciation had not a clue of what they were narrating.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Shane canning
  • 12-22-21

first 2 hours good

not the best first 2 hours is good then ive no idea about the rest to much information about build off plane

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Cameron Paterson
  • 09-25-21

Disappointing

As an Engineer, a historian and a reader of many aviation history books, I looked forward to this detailed account of the tragic demise of that most wonderful of European aircraft — Concorde. However, I am left very frustrated with this over-detailed and repetitive account, and am thus moved to write this review. Although the flow is good and the depth of content is broadly satisfying, it could have been kept much more concise, without losing the vital detail. The continual translation of every technical measurement into both metric and imperial units is particularly grating (& entirely unnecessary). Matters are made considerably worse by the significant number of factual and technical inaccuracies throughout — there is no excuse for the obvious lack of fact checking and these mistakes then making it into print. Even more grating is the fairly awful narration — this is essentially a story featuring the French & the British, yet the American narrator was quite unable to correctly pronounce many of the (mainly English) names. Very irritating!