A contextualization of the space race within world and American history.
KLIATTAmericans living in the late 1960s went through the most exciting days of space exploration. Astronauts were more famous than rock stars, and the world eagerly followed each venture beyond the Earth's atmosphere. Apollo 11 was the logical climax to the great Space Race, and Neil Armstrong and "Buzz" Aldrin certainly deserve their immortality as the first humans ever to walk the surface of the Moon. An earlier mission, however, generated fully as much excitement, and is remembered even more fondly. When Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders splashed down safely after circling the Moon in December 1968, they provided an upbeat ending to a ghastly year of assassinations, riots, and social unrest. More importantly, their flight marked the first time that humans had ever escaped from the Earth's gravity well. All of mankind seemed to hold its breath during the long minutes while the spacecraft was out of contact beyond the far side of the Moon. The three astronauts not only proved that a manned landing on the Moon was possible, but also brought back the first photographs showing Earth in its true perspective: a lovely blue marble in the black immensity of outer space. It was Frank Borman, however, who gave the world its most unforgettable moment when, on Christmas Eve, he slowly began to read: "In the beginning" Robert Zimmerman is a filmmaker who has written extensively on space and astronomy subjects. He has done an excellent job here, giving us a richly anecdotal account of the mission that nicely balances rocket science with the human element. He never lets the story get bogged down in melodrama, however, and is skilled in making all of the engineering and technologyunderstandable to the average reader. Best of all, he puts the story of Apollo 8 into the perspective of the times. This is probably the best writing on the space program since Michael Collins' Carrying the Fire. KLIATT Codes: JSA*Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1998, Dell, 350p, 18cm, illus, notes, bibliog, index, $6.99. Ages 13 to adult. Reviewer: Raymond L. Puffer; Ph.D., Historian, Edwards Air Force Base, CA, May 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 3)
Library JournalZimmerman, who writes for the Sciences, Astronomy, and the Wall Street Journal, tells the story of the three astronauts involved in the "first manned flight to another world" as we approach its 30th anniversary. The story is well told in the astronauts' own words and through interviews with their wives and children. The sections covering selected events and personages of the Cold War and the 1960s provide a unique perspective; the role of religion in the astronauts' lives is an important theme not found elsewhere. While Apollo 8 is included in many other books on the Apollo program, Zimmerman's work is the first to cover this flight alone and to stress its monumental significance as the most important Apollo mission. A strong purchase for all academic and public libraries.--Dale Ebersole, Carlson Lib., Univ. of Toledo, OH
BooknewsAn account of the 1968 Apollo 8 mission to the moon, weaving details of the mission into the saga of the three astronauts' careers, family lives, and the emotional and spiritual after-effects of their historic journey. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus ReviewsThe year 1968 is memorable for any number of reasons, science writer Zimmerman reminds us, not the least of which was the historic flight of Apollo 8, the first manned space flight to slip out of Earth's gravitational tethers. Apollo 8, with Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders aboard, blasted off in late December of 1968, its intention to journey beyond Earth's orbit, slip into a lunar orbit, then escape again, and return. Its success was a momentous occasion-the frontiers of space had been effectively pushed out, way out-although it was overshadowed six months later by the actual lunar landing. Zimmerman, a science and technology writer who has contributed to American Heritage, the Sciences, and other publications, has chosen two aspects of the Apollo 8 mission to emphasize. First, he depicts a space program then still the venue of the hero/ace pilot who, sacrificing family priorities and personal safety, was the Cold Warrior nonpareil. In relating this, Zimmerman situates the flight within the context of that electrifying and appalling year the Tet Offensive, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, student uprisings, the Chicago Democratic convention, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, when more than a spacecraft appeared to be spinning out of orbit. Zimmerman keeps in check this potentially hyperbolic drama, giving it a nice steady rhythm, but he loses that touch when he goes after his second theme, attempting to infuse the event with righteousness. It showed the world, Zimmerman claims, an "American vision of moral individuality, religious tolerance and mutual respect," though it's difficult to see the space race as an expression ofsuch respect or to decipher the meaning of "moral individuality" in this context.
- Random House Publishing Group
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- 4.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.75(d)
What People are saying about this
Jim LovellThe flight of Apollo 8 brought a shining ending to a year of turmoil. Zimmerman tells the reality of the story with vigor.
Frank BormanGenesis captures the essence of the space race and the Apollo program.
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