A stunning investigation of the roots of the first moon landing forty years ago.This illuminating story of the dawn of the space age reaches back to the reactionary modernism of the Third Reich, using the life of “rocket scientist” Wernher von Braun as its narrative path through the crumbling of Weimar Germany and the rise of the Nazi regime. Von Braun, a blinkered opportunist who could apply only tunnel vision to his meteoric career, stands as an archetype of myriad twentieth century technologists who thrived under regimes of military secrecy and unlimited money. His seamless transformation from developer of the deadly V-2 ballistic missile for Hitler to an American celebrity as the supposed genius behind the golden years of the U.S. space program in the 1950s and 1960s raises haunting questions about the culture of the Cold War, the shared values of technology in totalitarian and democratic societies, and the imperatives of material progress.
The authors recreate in vivid detail the "parallel universes" of the two space exploration programs, with visionaries Wernher von Braun and Sergei Korolev and political leaders John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev at the epicenters. The conflict between countries, and the tense drama of their independent progress, unfolds in vivid prose. Approaching its subject from a uniquely balanced perspective, this important new narrative chronicles the epic race to the moon and back as it has never been told before—and captures the interest of casual browsers and science, space, and history enthusiasts alike.
"Celebrates a bold era when voyaging beyond the Earth was deemed crucial to national security and pride."
-The Wall Street Journal
Restoring the drama, majesty, and sheer improbability of an American triumph, this is award-winning historian Craig Nelson's definitive and thrilling story of man's first trip to the moon. At 9:32 a.m. on July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 rocket launched in the presence of more than a million spectators who had gathered to witness a truly historic event. Through interviews, 23,000 pages of NASA oral histories, and declassified CIA documents on the space race, Rocket Men presents a vivid narrative of the moon mission, taking readers on the journey to one of the last frontiers of the human imagination.
A selection of the History, Scientific American, and Quality Paperback Book Clubs
For a very brief moment during the 1960s, America was moonstruck. Boys dreamt of being an astronaut; girls dreamed of marrying one. Americans drank Tang, bought “space pens” that wrote upside down, wore clothes made of space age Mylar, and took imaginary rockets to the moon from theme parks scattered around the country.
But despite the best efforts of a generation of scientists, the almost foolhardy heroics of the astronauts, and 35 billion dollars, the moon turned out to be a place of “magnificent desolation,” to use Buzz Aldrin’s words: a sterile rock of no purpose to anyone. In Dark Side of the Moon, Gerard J. DeGroot reveals how NASA cashed in on the Americans’ thirst for heroes in an age of discontent and became obsessed with putting men in space. The moon mission was sold as a race which America could not afford to lose. Landing on the moon, it was argued, would be good for the economy, for politics, and for the soul. It could even win the Cold War. The great tragedy is that so much effort and expense was devoted to a small step that did virtually nothing for mankind.
Drawing on meticulous archival research, DeGroot cuts through the myths constructed by the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations and sustained by NASA ever since. He finds a gang of cynics, demagogues, scheming politicians, and corporations who amassed enormous power and profits by exploiting the fear of what the Russians might do in space.
Exposing the truth behind one of the most revered fictions of American history, Dark Side of the Moon explains why the American space program has been caught in a state of purposeless wandering ever since Neil Armstrong descended from Apollo 11 and stepped onto the moon. The effort devoted to the space program was indeed magnificent and its cultural impact was profound, but the purpose of the program was as desolate and dry as lunar dust.
From the author of ‘Seven Wonders of the Industrial World’, the ebook edition of the TV tie-in charting the shocking but true story behind the space race – and the ruthless, brilliant scientists who fuelled it.
With the end of the Cold War it is now possible to reveal its generation of secrets and cover-ups, bringing an historical opportunity: the unmasking of the true heroes and villains behind the race to be the first to conquer space.
This is one of the greatest stories in history, beginning in the throes of the Second World War and spanning through to the moon landings. With the US and Russia pitched against one another during the Cold War, it was the race to create the most powerful rocket and dominate the world, culminating in 1969's 'giant leap for mankind'. The most pioneering and high-risk experiments ever undertaken cost untold millions – and hundreds of lives, as mistakes were made, some too horrific to be made public.
It is a tale that plays out against a backdrop of communism and espionage. Buried within this multi-million-dollar battle between nations, are the dramatic accounts of the individuals who seek to be the winners at any cost. With ex-Nazi Wernher von Braun on the American side pitted against the enigmatic Sergei Korolev on the Soviet side, this revealing new history shows the extent to which politics and personal ambition combined to create an explosive race for the glory of victory.
Note that it has not been possible to include the same picture content that appeared in the original print version.
Launched by the Third Reich in late 1944, the first ballistic missile, the V-2, fell on London, Paris, and Antwerp after covering nearly two hundred miles in five minutes. It was a stunning achievement, one that heralded a new age of ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles. Michael J. Neufeld gives the first comprehensive and accurate account of the story behind one of the greatest engineering feats of World War II. At a time when rockets were minor battlefield weapons, Germany ushered in a new form of warfare that would bequeath a long legacy of terror to the Cold War, as well as the means to go into space. Both the US and USSR's rocket programs had their origins in the Nazi state.
When the Soviet Union launched the first orbital satellite, Sputnik I, Americans panicked. The Soviets had nuclear weapons, the Cold War was underway, and now the USSR had taken the lead in the space race. Members of Congress and the press called for an all-out effort to launch a satellite into orbit. With dire warnings about national security in the news almost every day, the armed services saw space as the new military frontier. But President Eisenhower insisted that the space effort, which relied on military technology, be supervised by civilians so that the space race would be peaceful. The Navy's Vanguard program flopped, and the Army, led by ex-Nazi rocket scientist Wernher von Braun and a martinet general named J. Bruce Medaris (whom Eisenhower disliked), took over. Meanwhile, the Soviets put a dog inside the next Sputnik, and Americans grew more worried as the first animal in space whirled around the Earth.
Throughout 1958 America went space crazy. UFO sightings spiked. Boys from Brooklyn to Burbank shot model rockets into the air. Space-themed beauty pageants became a national phenomenon. The news media flocked to the launchpads on the swampy Florida coast, and reporters reinvented themselves as space correspondents. And finally the Army's rocket program succeeded. Determined not to be outdone by the Russians, America's space scientists launched the first primate into space, a small monkey they nicknamed Old Reliable for his calm demeanor. And then at Christmastime, Eisenhower authorized the launch of a secret satellite with a surprise aboard.
A Ball, a Dog, and a Monkey memorably recalls the infancy of the space race, a time when new technologies brought ominous danger but also gave us the ability to realize our dreams and reach for the stars.