SPACE RACE by Deborah Cadbury
Kirkus Star


The Epic Battle Between America and the Soviet Union for Dominion of Space
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A swift, exciting history of the race to the moon, from Sputnik to “The Eagle has landed.”

Science writer Cadbury (Terrible Lizard, 2001, etc.) also produced a four-part BBC/National Geographic series about the 12-year competition between the Soviet Union and the United States. In this splendid book-length treatment of the same material, she cuts back and forth between the two sides’ principal players: American immigrant warrior Wernher von Braun and homegrown Soviet hero Sergei Korolev, whose identity was kept secret throughout his remarkable career. The author thoroughly explores von Braun’s dark, disturbing background in Germany. A member of the Nazi party and the SS, he used slave labor to help produce the deadly V-2 rockets that devastated London. As WWII neared its end, both the Soviets and the Americans raced to see who could round up the most talented German rocket scientists. The U.S. won, covered up von Braun’s heinous history and made him the face of America’s space effort; when that face turned up on the cover of Time magazine, it cemented his celebrity status. Depicting both von Braun and Korolev as huge talents and ferociously hard workers, Cadbury catalogues the successes, failures and frustrations on each side. The Soviets were the first to orbit a satellite; in fact, they placed first in many of the competition’s early heats. But they were hampered, the author effectively argues, by a restrictive political system, by their fear of their opponent’s military might (the U.S. was first with atomic and nuclear weapons) and by lack of money. The Americans, much more animated once Sputnik began beeping its message from space in 1957, committed millions to make certain the U.S. landed first on the moon. Cadbury’s prose is heart-racing as she describes the individual missions, poignant as she acknowledges the loss of American and Soviet lives.

First-rate research and reporting.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-06-084553-8
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2006


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