Powering Apollo: James E. Webb of NASA

Overview

When President Kennedy issued his well-known challenge to reach the moon and return safely before the end of the 1960s, the immediate responsibility for undertaking the task fell to 54-year-old NASA director James E. Webb. Eight years later, when the Apollo 11 spacecraft splashed down safely in the Pacific and the screens in NASA's Mission Control at Houston flashed the words "Task Accomplished," it was Webb who deserved much of the credit. In Powering Apollo, W. Henry Lambright explores Webb's leadership role in...

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Overview

When President Kennedy issued his well-known challenge to reach the moon and return safely before the end of the 1960s, the immediate responsibility for undertaking the task fell to 54-year-old NASA director James E. Webb. Eight years later, when the Apollo 11 spacecraft splashed down safely in the Pacific and the screens in NASA's Mission Control at Houston flashed the words "Task Accomplished," it was Webb who deserved much of the credit. In Powering Apollo, W. Henry Lambright explores Webb's leadership role in NASA's spectacular success—success that is rare in ambitious government policies and programs.

A North Carolina native and Congressional staff member, Jim Webb had served in Congress, worked in the Truman administration, and risen to high office in the defense and energy industries by 1961 when Kennedy named him to head the new National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Examining Webb's role as both Washington insider and government program director, Lambright probes the skills and experience that equipped him to handle his enormous responsibilities. He also shows how Webb's performance reflected important changes in twentieth century public life, including the concentration of political power in Washington; expansion of the federal bureaucracy; the rise of big science; and visions of cooperation among government, industry, and higher education.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Science
The reputation of James Webb is hostage to Apollo. He, more than any other single individual, made Apollo happen... This fine biography will keep his memory warm.
Library Journal
James E. Webb was not a household name during the 1960s Apollo moon program, as were many of the astronauts. But as NASA administrator from 1961 to 1968, he provided the leadership that steered the fledgling space agency on a course to the moon, and he is generally acknowledged as being the standard by which subsequent NASA administrators are judged. Lambright (political science and public administration, Syracuse Univ.) examines Webb's career from his stint as budget bureau director and under secretary of state during the Truman administration, to his work in private industry, to his appointment by JFK as NASA head, a post he accepted reluctantly but in which he came into his own as a manager par excellence. Focusing on Webb's administrative skills, Lambright makes the case that the United States beat the Russians to the moon largely because "we out-managed them." While this book leaves the reader wishing for a proper biography that would reveal more of the man behind one of the greatest technological achievements of the century, it is still highly recommended for academic and large public libraries as a thoroughgoing account of Webb's achievements.-Thomas J. Frieling, Bainbridge Coll., Ga.
Booknews
Examines how Webb, as director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration fulfilled John F. Kennedy's 1961 challenge to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. Describing Webb as a Washington insider as well as a program director, Lambright (political science and public administration, Syracuse U.) places his achievement in the context of changes in public life such as the concentration of power in the national government, the expansion of the bureaucracy, the rise of big science, and the government's cooperation with industry and higher education. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801862052
  • Publisher: Hopkins Fulfillment Service
  • Publication date: 1/20/2000
  • Series: New Series in NASA History
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

W. Henry Lambright is a professor of political science and public administration at the Maxwell School, Syracuse University.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 The Making of a Public Executive 11
2 Directing the U.S. Budget 30
3 Managing the Department of State 47
4 The Oklahoma Years 69
5 NASA: From Appointment to Apollo 82
6 Launching a Stronger NASA 102
7 The Struggle to Maintain Momentum 132
8 The Apollo Fire 142
9 From Crisis to Recovery 165
10 Last Hurrah at NASA 189
11 The Moon and After 206
12 Legacy 214
Notes 219
An Essay on Sources 255
Index 265
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