Top-flight debunking takes all the air out of the moon race.

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DARK SIDE OF THE MOON

THE MAGNIFICENT MADNESS OF THE AMERICAN LUNAR QUEST

An exposé arguing that the Apollo Program conned taxpayers and provided a lavish, risky ego trip for technocrats and politicians.

DeGroot (The Bomb, 2004; History/Univ. of St. Andrews, Scotland) crafts a winning formula: While peeling away layer after layer of the deceptions and spin that sold NASA’s lunar program to the funding public, he indulges readers with a nostalgia binge of epic proportions. Although cautioning against finding any heroes in his reading of the case, he does isolate President Eisenhower as a voice in the wilderness, protesting, however faintly, against the massive expenditures he correctly foresaw would ultimately be required to administer a “$35 billion happy pill” to a depressed America. We were never behind, the author stresses, in the so-called “space race” when it came to developing technology with direct national-security implications; Ike knew it but couldn’t say it because intelligence-gathering was top-secret. What the public saw instead was a Soviet circus with brutish booster-rockets throwing into space seemingly at will the first orbiter, then the first dog, man, woman, etc. All their failures were cloaked; all of ours screamed in headlines. The villains? DeGroot first fixes on Wernher von Braun, the former Nazi wunderkind whose rocketry, built by slave labor, had rained death on London. Ike and anyone else counseling restraint had no chance against the salesmanship of a visionary scientist with the requisite foreign accent. But it was John F. Kennedy, the author says, who insisted on a manned, space-based world-opinion coup—forget science—the gargantuan budget of which he would later come to rue. The author provides lots of philandering-astronaut stories and similar fun stuff to go along with the overview, all metaphorically topped by Enos, second chimp in space, who yanked off his diaper at his post-flight press conference and tried to fondle himself.

Top-flight debunking takes all the air out of the moon race.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-8147-1995-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: New York Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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