Book Reviews

Here we will provide reviews on some of the available books that can help you with microwaves. There are hundreds of titles out there, so this is going to take some time to come up with the best. By clicking one of the links below and buying a book from Amazon, you will help lift the Unknown Editor out of poverty that is associated with working as an lowly, Caucasian male engineer for a Fortune 500 company!

Got favorite (or unfavorite) book on this topic? Send us a book review, and win a pocket knife!

Free books

Go to our page on Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (DTU) and follow the link to download Dr. Vitaliy Zhurbenko's two new books, "Passive Microwave Components and Antennas" and "Advanced Microwave Circuits and Systems".

"Electromangetica Waves and Antennas" by Sophocles J. Orfanidis can be downloaded from the Rutgers site here.

Update September 2012: MYJ's filter book is available for free as a scanned pdf in our download area. It is in the public domain so there is no harm in grabbing a copy!

Man of High Fidelity: Edwin Howard Armstrong, a Biography

By Lawrence Lessing

First published in 1956, this is the definitive work on Edwin Howard Armstrong's life. Out of print, but available used in paperback. Armstrong invented the feedback amplifier, the superhet receiver and FM radio. For these accomplishments, RCA pretty much tried to destroy his life.


Tuxedo Park : A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science That Changed the Course of World War II

by Jennet Conant

  This is the only book on Alfred Lee Loomis's life, first published in 2003. Fueled with Wall Street money that he held in cash during the 1929 crash, Loomis developed an incredible private laboratory for research into topics such as radar, ultrasonics, EEG and nuclear, and formed a close association with many of the top scientists of the day. He personally invented LORAN, which is still used today for keeping aircraft on course. He was the founder of Rad Lab, and often kicked in his own money when the government fell short. He was not in the science game for name recognition or money, just for the good of mankind.


The Tube Guys

By Norman H. Pond

This book is about the history of vacuum tubes, with an emphasis on high-power microwave varieties, back in the day when companies were run by engineers who worked hard, took risks, and didn't suffer fools lightly. You'll learn about the origins of the magnetron, the traveling wave tube, the carcinotron, the ubitron, the klystron, the backward wave oscillator, and much more. There's plenty of discussion on the history of the microwave oven as well. There's company histories of Raytheon, Varian, Litton, Sperry, GE, RCA, Sylvania, AT&T, Federal Telegraph (ITT), Westinghouse, e2v, Eimac, Bomac, Hughes, Microwave Associates, Huggins, Watkins Johnson, Roger White Electron Devices, SFD, Teledyne, Northrop Grumman, MLI, Star Microwave, M-Square Microteck, and Asian and European tube companies, it almost puts our "where are they now page" to shame! You'll learn that the Varian brothers were practically communists, their original goal was to establish a commune with a working farm where engineers could live grow their own vegetables and chickens. A water leak at Varian once caused foam rubber "falsies" to float away from the company across the street... this book is Solid Gold for microwave nerds everywhere!



By Erik Larson

Thunderstuck is a thoroughly entertaining tale that provides information on how Guglielmo Marconi went from tinkerer/dreamer (or maybe obsessed crackpot) to set up the Marconi Company that soon dominated wireless telegraphy. You'll learn about massive peak-bog-fueled steam-powered generators powering spark-gap transmitters, and coherer receivers, which are now in microwave engineering's fascinating compost heap. The book also tells how an infamous murderer was apprehended on a transatlantic ocean liner. The ship's wireless traffic to Scotland Yard was intercepted by newsmen who built up the story, while no one on the ship but the captain and the wireless operator knew what was going down.


Fire in the Belly Building a World-leading High-tech Company from Scratch in Tumultuous Times

by Jerry D. Neal with Jerry Bledsoe


The title of this book made us buy it just to make fun of it. The boyz at RF Micro (and the rest of us) look a little too well fed to have "fire in the belly" like the Oakies did picking crops in California during the Great Depression. Tumultuous times? Like the French Revolution? Didn't RF Micro just sprout up because they had the right idea at the right time?

The book didn't disappoint, but in the opposite sense of the reason that we bought it. It's a great read! This is the story about how a chain-smoking visionary engineer (Bill Pratt), a hands-on fab and test guy (Powell Seymour) and a NASCAR fan and marketeer (Jerry Neal) found themselves laid off from Analog Devices after developing "RF stuff" that the company didn't see any market potential for. Founding RF Micro Devices in 1991, their original market play was to be a fabless source of amplifiers for the handset market, processing three-inch GaAs HBT wafers at TRW in California. Working 16 hour days for no pay the first year, the founders couldn't have been more enthused if they were Br'er Rabbitt in his briar patch. After some disastrous reliability problems were worked out, they went on to swamp the capacity of TRW's fab in a few short years and built the biggest GaAs fab campus in the world in their home town of Greensboro North Carolina. "Fire in the Belly" refers to Jerry's need for a roll of Tums while maintaining a stream of investor cash during the startup years. We bought a used copy of the book, and it came with his autograph!

Not very many businesses go from garage shop to $1B in ten years, but RFMD did. Their success reminds us of a rule of thumb:

When engineers decide to quit the comforts of their employment and start a new company, they should never attempt this without a really good marketing guy. Engineers often think that it's simply "build it and customers will come" but that is never the case!

Now let's have a look at essential North Carolina culture on Youtube (sorry, Neal, we couldn't resist!)



Thomas A. Milligan

Here's a review that won Jari, from the Finnish Defence Forces Research Centre the coveted Microwaves101 knife. Give us some time to link it to Amazon before you buy it!! We've heard from other people that Milligan's book is a good one.

An exceptional book on antenna design. It is very design oriented, easy to read and does not contain long derivations of anything - the stuff we antenna designers would skip anyway. The book deals with basic theory (of course), basics of numerical methods, arrays and array synthesis, all the basic radiator types, and phased arrays. In my opinion, only relevant information for practical design work is included in the book, no more to confuse you or make your reading experience tedious. That is why I like it. I have used that book a lot and found it exceptionally useful.

Another excellent reference, by the way, for practical antenna engineer is "Antenna Engineering Handbook" (R. C. Johnson), which is a new version of legendary book from Henry Jasik.

Thanks, Jari!


Here's a book on microstrip antennas and the many ways to increase bandwidth, we found it easy to understand even for non-antenna types.


Here's Advanced Packaging by a team of professors from University of Arkansas. It's crammed with useful info on materials properties, and even though it is not specifically about microwave packaging it has a lot of good microwave stuff in it!


Here's a book on virtual teams. Nothing to do with microwave engineering you say? Buy it anyway, one of the co-authors works here!


This is our new favorite book. Microwave Tubes by A.S. Gilmour was published in 1986, so it isn't really new, but it is one of the best written microwave books we have come across. It includes some great microwave history, including tidbits about the Varian brothers, Kompfner, Pierce, Boot and Randall. It also describes the math behind why 50 ohms was chosen way back when. This is a must-have book if you want to learn about tubes.


If you are at all serious about designing microwave filters, you'll need to pick up a copy of Matthaei, Young and Jones' book Microwave Filters, Impedance-Matching Networks, and Coupling Structures, which is still in print more than four decades after it was first published. We like the book so much we put MY&J in the Microwave Hall of Fame! Remember, Matthaei rhymes with paté. Update September 2012: this book is available for free as a scanned pdf in our download area. It is in the public domain so there is no harm in grabbing a copy!


Steven Maas' book on microwave mixers is a great resource on this topic, and his Cookbook will really get you cookin'.


If you are interested in radar, we have two recommendations. Merrill Skolnik's Introduction to Radar Systems is a good reference, and George Stimson has made radar understandable even to non-technical people in Introduction to Airborne Radar.


Microwave Engineering

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The most-required book for microwave students is David M. Pozar's Microwave Engineering, published in 1996, but he's got two others as well. Warning, these books actually derive formulas using calculus, which has been known to induce sleep in baby-boomers! Pozar is now in the Microwaves101 Hall of Fame!


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Les Besser's two-book series is titled Practical RF RF Circuit Design for Modern Wireless Systems. You can even get volume one as a digital download, though here at Microwaves101, we prefer the hard copy. Great books, both.


Harlan Howe's book on stripline circuit design, cleverly called Stripline Circuit Design, is a little long in the tooth, but belongs on every stripline engineer's bookshelf.


A great coplanar waveguide book is Coplanar Waveguide Circuits Components & Systems by Rainee N. Simons.


Communications Receivers: Principles and Design by Ulrich L. Rohde and T.T.N. Bucher is a good reference on receivers.


Here are some oldies but goodies: K.C. Gupta, Ramesh Garg and Rakesh Chadha's book titled Computer-Aided Design of Microwave Circuits is full of useful formulas on all manner of transmission line structures. Stephen F. Adam wrote a book, sponsored by Hewlett Packard, titled Microwave Theory and Applications. It has historic value in that it explains slotted lines and wavemeters, but it also is a great book for hands-on microwave experimenters.


Microwave Engineering: Passive Circuits

We recently started referring to this book by Peter Rizzi, and we really like it for basic theory. Buy it place it next to Pozar's book. Often if you don't find what your looking for in one, it's in the other. Those Massachusetts professors know how to write!


Empire of the Air is a great book if you are interested in the history of radio. Learn how De Forest, Sarnoff and Armstrong took radio from a mere curiosity to a consumer product. De Forest and Armstrong are in our Microwave Hall all of Fame!

Author : Unknown Editor