Description - The Race by James Schefter
On July 21st 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first person to step on the surface of the moon. As he did so, he uttered the immortal words 'one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind'. No achievement defines the modern era more than America's historic moon landing, yet it was the culmination of a decade's long struggle between the Soviet Union and America that epitomised the Cold War. "The Race" is the definitive history of the battle between the superpowers, from the first Sputnik into space in 1957, through Yuri Gagarin's first manned space flight in 1961 to the years of America's Apollo Saturn rocket programme that finally saw the USA snatch the prize from Russia. This irresistible story is populated by inspired inventors, feuding rocket scientists, extraordinarily brave astronauts and imperturbable mission controllers. It is a tale of blind faith, of a giant leap into the unknown, of national pride and political ambition, and one of the greatest achievement of science and of humanity.
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(198mm x 129mm x 20mm)
Arrow Books Ltd
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US Kirkus Review »
A longtime space reporter takes us behind the scenes of the biggest story of his career. The space race began at the end of WWII, as the US and the Soviet Union tried to see what they could make of the remnants of the German rocket programs that had fallen into their hands. The immediate applications were delivery systems for the nuclear weapons both sides were now deploying. But it became clear to both sides that the exploration of space offered opportunities to score propaganda points, and this as much as any scientific motive led both sides to divert a few of their military rockets to the job of launching satellites. As former Life reporter Schefter (All Corvettes Are Red: The Rebirth of an American Legend, 1997) reminds us, the Soviets scored many coups in the early years: the first artificial satellite, the first man in space, several other impressive firsts. Sergei Korolev, the mysterious figure behind their space program, had a knack for headline-grabbing feats and the advantage of not having his failures publicized. But the Americans had the lead in technical and scientific expertise, and gradually they pulled ahead. By the time the Apollo program began, it was clear to anyone in the know that the Soviets had no real chance of getting a man to the moon before the US did. Despite the lack of real competition, Schefter finds plenty of good material in the expansion of NASA from its afterthought beginnings, the arrival of the astronaut as a new American role model (warts and all), and the infighting between Wernher von Braun and Bob Gilruth, the two major figures in the US race. Schefter brings the various figures to life, chronicling everything from the astronauts' drunken pranks and womanizing to the tragic deaths and the near-misses, as well as the technical accomplishments and political feuds in clear and readable style. An entertaining summary of the high points of perhaps the biggest story of the last half century. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - James Schefter
James Schefter covered NASA from 1963 to 1973. His work has appeared in magazines as diverse as Popular Science, Reader's Digest and Paris Match.