Eccentric Orbits: The Iridium Story

By John Bloom - Rating: 9/10

Eccentric Orbits is the history of the rise, fall, and eventual rebirth of the world’s first (and only) global satellite phone system. This is not the sort of book I would ever expect to like. Corporate history is not really my thing. However, this is more the story an astounding technological achievement that was almost destroyed but not for the small group of individuals who believed in it and were willing to risk millions for it. John Bloom—better known by his alter ego, trash cinema expert Joe Bob Briggs—has crafted a thrilling narrative that first seduces the reader to fall in love with a satellite system, then cheer for its implementation, and, finally, be infuriated by Motorola’s lack of commitment to the project. And that’s just the first half of the book. Second half is the tale of Dan Colussy’s quest to save the whole thing with one frustrating sequence of broken promises and ineffectual political wrangling after another. The sheer number of names and meetings wore on me by the time I got to the end, but it was worth it to fully understand the complexity of such a massive undertaking.

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