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SAFELY TO EARTH

THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO BROUGHT THE ASTRONAUTS HOME

A narrative rocket-powered by experience, intelligence, knowledge, and gratitude.

An engineer and software manager who worked on both the Apollo and space shuttle flights rehearses some behind-the-scenes activity during the decades he worked with NASA.

In his debut, Clemons, now a freelance writer and speaker, begins with some background—e.g., John F. Kennedy’s vow to send Americans to the moon; the author’s youthful love of science fiction—and then proceeds chronologically through some of NASA’s great successes and failures. The author is adept at explaining complicated technical concepts by employing quotidian analogues (how a “free-return trajectory” is similar to tossing a ball), so general readers will have little trouble navigating his pages. He is also generous with praise for his colleagues, celebrating their contributions, and he offers startling reminders: NASA was still basically in the slide-rule, pre-computer era when they first landed men on the moon in July 1969. One of the most gripping segments deals with Apollo 13 (“Houston, we’ve had a problem”) and the eponymous movie, which Clemons discusses flatteringly. (He also alludes to the recent film Hidden Figures.) During the shuttle missions, the author worked on the software, a massive undertaking that he describes in rich detail; he notes how virtually impossible it is to create error-free computer code and how close to that objective the shuttle engineers came. He deals, too, with the great NASA tragedies: the Apollo 1 fire, the Challenger and Columbia disasters. Clemons writes only briefly about his personal life—his marriage, fatherhood, divorce, and eventual change of career when he left the space program in the mid-1980s. These events and experiences are mostly breaths he takes before diving back into his primary narrative. In a lengthy appendix, he deals with some common questions and dismisses as “silly stories” the rumors that the moon landings were faked.

A narrative rocket-powered by experience, intelligence, knowledge, and gratitude.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8130-5602-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Univ. Press of Florida

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Awards & Accolades

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


  • New York Times Bestseller


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  • National Book Award Finalist

Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

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

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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