I Finally Finished It!

I’ve been listening to this audiobook since January 20, 2021, and I finally finished it!

I’ve mentioned on a handfull of occasions in the past that airships are one of my favorite things. If I had the capacity to do so, I would advocate for the return of the airship to our daily lives. In fact, I wish I could start a company whose purpose was the operation of a line of airships that would be used to tour cities, national landmarks, and make slow, relaxing journeys across the country.

Imagine embracing the mentality of “it’s the journey, not the destination.” Imagine the things you would see and the people you would meet. Taking an airship journey from New York to LA would be an entirely different experience than driving, or taking a train or a commercial airplane. Driving would be faster than taking a train, but the fuel costs would most likely be cost prohibitive, though you would remain in control of your speed, ability to stop when needed and any secondary destinations. Taking a train might save you on fuel costs. It would give you the freedom to engage in other activities during the journey, and it would give you a view of the countryside that you are unlikely to get from the highway. Unfortunately, a train journey would take significantly longer than if you were to make the drive. Take an airplane and you will definitely get to your destination quickly, but you’ll miss out on all that the country has to offer between your starting point and your destination. Taking an airship would be similar to taking a luxury cruise ship across the country.

Choosing the airship wouldn’t be about speed or about saving money. It would be about experiencing travel in a slow and deliberate way. It would be about seeing the Earth from the sky, but not so high that every place looks the same. It would be about relishing every moment of the journey.

Empires of the Sky by Alexander Rose

Empires of the Sky

by Alexander Rose

Rating: 3 out of 5.


The early 1900’s saw the invention of the airplane, but before it would soar to become the king of the air, the airship ruled the sky. Count von Zeppelin had a very different vision of how humans would achieve flight. While the Wright brothers were sledding and studying birds, Zeppelin was building increasingly large and beautiful machines of the lighter-than-air variety. In their infancy, airplanes were extremely fragile and dangerous to operate, so the commonly held belief, at least in Europe, that airplanes were a fad and that the airship would remain the domninant technology. But, the battle between airship and airplane technologies wasn’t that simple, nor was it free from economic and political influence.

My Thoughts

Oh my goodness. The history presented in this book is facinating. I’m giving it 3-stars because of it’s length. I know that is more of a “me” problem than the actual book, but perhaps, it could have been broken down into two volumes. I think that if I’d sat down with a paper copy of the book though, I probably would never have finished it, just on account of how long it is. The audiobook was roughly 32 hours in length. Phew! When you only listen to audibooks for 15 minutes on the way to and from work, it can take a while to get through a book like this one. The book is organized topically, which for a book of this length makes a lot of sense, as opposed to a timeline-like list of historical events. However, it did make the book seem very repetitive, as the author revisited events and persons of interest many times in order to discuss how those events fit with the particular topic being covered in a given chapter.

Graf Zeppelin from Encyclopædia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/technology/zeppelin#/media/1/656592/96518

I only bookmarked one thing in the book and it’s humorous to me because it shows that some things about airplanes still haven’t changed, even from the early days. One airplane passenger’s opinion of air travel was that…

“…the seats were designed for one frail woman, accompanied by a male contortionist.”

– Alexander Rose, Empires of the Sky (Timestamp in Audiobook 12:15:45)

I’ve flown a number of times in my life, and I’ve never been in a position to afford anything other than economy. But as any 6 foot tall (plus) man, weighing nearly 300 pounds can attest, a flight of anything more than about two hours can become quite uncomfortable.

So… Would I recommend this book? To those who are diehard fans of aviation, yes, I think that this is a must-read. If airplanes and airships aren’t your thing, feel free to move along to another book. For a 32 hour audiobook, I’m sure there’s a lot more that could be said, but I think I’ve given you just enough that you’ll know whether or not you’re interested in this book.

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Can you believe it’s May already?!

You may have seen a notification from me elsewhere explaining that I’ll soon be focusing (nearly) exclusively on my Substack content. I am truly grateful to everyone who has been following my journey here on WordPress over the past couple of years. I would be honored if you would head over to davidsheley.substack.com and subscribe to my newsletter. Initially, it will be the same content as you see here, but as I make the transition, I will allow my WordPress site to fade into the background as my Substack publications come online. If you’d like to know more about what this Substack stuff is all about, drop me a comment, and I’d be happy to tell you more.

The Nutcracker Trilogy

I will continue to shamelessly promote these books because I’m so excited about being a small part of Drosselmeyer’s journey. If you’re new here, let me encourage you to check out The Nutcracker Trilogy by Paul Thompson. All three books are available in print and as e-books. Books one and two are available as audiobooks, narrated by yours truly. Click the links below to explore.

Oh, and it doesn’t have to be Christmas for you to enjoy these stories (just like it doesn’t have to be Christmas to enjoy Harry Potter).

Apple Books / Apple Audiobooks / Amazon / Audible

Author’s Website

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