(Avery, $27)

This “breezy and fact-filled history” of jet travel reveals that jet technology was a surprisingly “tough sell,” said Daniel Michaels in The Wall Street Journal. Ex-military pilot Frank Whittle began patenting his jet-engine designs in the 1930s, but the British engineer “struggled for years to get funding,” and U.S. airlines were in no hurry to give up on propellers. It wasn’t until Geoffrey de Havilland’s fleet but flawed Comets began breaking air-speed records in the early 1950s that Boeing “took up the jetliner challenge.”

The ensuing race between the U.S. and Britain is ably brought to life in this entertaining book, said Jerry Harkavy in the Associated Press. One needn’t be an aviation buff to appreciate its colorful stories of the test pilots, stewardesses, and entrepreneurs who helped shepherd commercial travel into the modern era. Better yet, the whole story can be read “in the time it takes to wait in a terminal, board a jet, and cross an ocean.”