A thrill ride punctuated with spectacular failures—but also spectacular successes.

Twelve harrowing episodes in the history of space travel.

Beginning with the hatch that prematurely blew off Gus Grissom’s Liberty Bell 7 capsule, Kluger (To the Moon!, 2018) offers a truly terrifying tally of catastrophes or near catastrophes—basing each incident on authoritative sources and relating each with melodramatic flair: “It can be oddly peaceful inside a dying spacecraft.” To requisite accounts of the Apollo 1 fire, the Apollo 13 thriller, and the destruction of the space shuttle Challenger, he adds the less-well-known tragedies of the Soyuz 1 crash and the asphyxiation of the three cosmonauts of Soyuz 11 as well as such near misses as Gene Cernan’s first extravehicular venture (“The Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Space Walk”), the lightning bolt that struck Apollo 12 as it was taking off, and the space-suited Italian astronaut who (ironically) narrowly escaped drowning outside the ISS when his helmet filled with water. The author analyzes the causes of each explosion or snafu, and his view of early spacecraft as exciting but chancy death traps riddled with flawed, often hastily designed technology will be an eye-opener for readers schooled on blander space-program narratives. Sharp black-and-white photos at the chapter heads depict the actual disasters or earlier views of the affected spacecraft or astronauts (where faces are discernible, all present white).

A thrill ride punctuated with spectacular failures—but also spectacular successes. (sources, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1275-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019



Intrepid explorer Lourie tackles the “Father of Waters,” the Mighty Mississippi, traveling by canoe, bicycle, foot, and car, 2,340 miles from the headwaters of the great river at the Canadian border to the river’s end in the Gulf of Mexico. As with his other “river titles” (Rio Grande, 1999, etc.), he intertwines history, quotes, and period photographs, interviews with people living on and around the river, personal observations, and contemporary photographs of his journey. He touches on the Native Americans—who still harvest wild rice on the Mississippi, and named the river—loggers, steamboats, Civil War battles, and sunken treasure. He stops to talk with a contemporary barge pilot, who tows jumbo-sized tank barges, or 30 barges carrying 45,000 tons of goods up and down and comments: “You think ‘river river river’ night and day for weeks on end.” Lourie describes the working waterway of locks and barges, oil refineries and diesel engines, and the more tranquil areas with heron and alligators, and cypress swamps. A personal travelogue, historical geography, and welcome introduction to the majestic river, past and present. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 1-56397-756-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000



If Freedman wrote the history textbooks, we would have many more historians. Beginning with an engrossing description of the Boston Tea Party in 1773, he brings the reader the lives of the American colonists and the events leading up to the break with England. The narrative approach to history reads like a good story, yet Freedman tucks in the data that give depth to it. The inclusion of all the people who lived during those times and the roles they played, whether small or large are acknowledged with dignity. The story moves backwards from the Boston Tea Party to the beginning of the European settlement of what they called the New World, and then proceeds chronologically to the signing of the Declaration. “Your Rights and Mine” traces the influence of the document from its inception to the present ending with Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The full text of the Declaration and a reproduction of the original are included. A chronology of events and an index are helpful to the young researcher. Another interesting feature is “Visiting the Declaration of Independence.” It contains a short review of what happened to the document in the years after it was written, a useful Web site, and a description of how it is displayed and protected today at the National Archives building in Washington, D.C. Illustrations from the period add interest and detail. An excellent addition to the American history collection and an engrossing read. (Nonfiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8234-1448-5

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2000

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