What David Oliver offers in this book is a graphically-appealing description of the development and use of flying boats and amphibious airplanes over the course of the twentieth century. Beginning with the earliest craft, he details their use in the First World War, their development as race planes and long-distance passenger transport in the interwar period, their roles during the Second World War, and their evolving use in the postwar era. All of this is supplemented with a generous use of photos and maps which help capture some of the glamor and majesty these craft so obviously have for the author.
All of this makes Oliver's a book an enjoyable enough read, but it is also a frustrating one. While he describes the many ways in which these planes were employed, he never really provides a context for his information. What readers get is the what and the when, but not the why of flying boats and amphibians. Such a context might better explain some of the outsized fascination these planes have held for people, as well as how they were eventually superseded in many of their roles by other craft. Anyone interested in answers to these questions has to look elsewhere, as Oliver's book ultimately serves as little more than a visual introduction to these fascinating and functional creations.