An enjoyable retelling of one of the momentous American achievements that made the moon landing possible.

APOLLO 8

THE THRILLING STORY OF THE FIRST MISSION TO THE MOON

How NASA defeated the Soviets in the space race by becoming the first country to send three astronauts on a flight to the moon despite what might have been a disastrous setback.

Time science editor and senior writer Kluger (The Narcissist Next Door: Understanding the Monster in Your Family, in Your Office, in your Bed—in Your World, 2014 etc.) begins in 1968 with the daring decision to push the flight schedule for Apollo 9 forward and change its itinerary from simply orbiting the Earth to a flight to the moon and back. The author explains that the context for the decision was the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union and President John F. Kennedy’s promise to land an American on the moon by 1970. The decision went through despite the fact that only 18 months earlier, three astronauts had been killed in a tragic fire during tests of Apollo 7. Faulty wiring proved to be the cause of the fire, likely as a result of the pressure to meet deadlines. “To the pilots [testing the ship], the Apollo felt like a slapdash machine,” writes Kluger. “It was temperamental, error-prone, and impossible to work with for more than a little while before something broke down.” Nonetheless, morale remained high, and the original plan was scrapped. Rather than delay the mission, Apollo 9 would become Apollo 8. The author was fortunate to be able to interview the three astronauts who flew the Apollo 8 mission: Cpt. Jim Lovell, with whom he co-authored the bestseller, Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 (1994); Col. Frank Borman; and Maj. Gen. Bill Anders. Kluger also had access to NASA’s Oral History Project, which contains transcripts of conversations during the flight, both inside the spacecraft and between the astronauts and ground control.

An enjoyable retelling of one of the momentous American achievements that made the moon landing possible.

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-832-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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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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The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics,...

HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE

A provocative analysis of the parallels between Donald Trump’s ascent and the fall of other democracies.

Following the last presidential election, Levitsky (Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America, 2003, etc.) and Ziblatt (Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy, 2017, etc.), both professors of government at Harvard, wrote an op-ed column titled, “Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy?” The answer here is a resounding yes, though, as in that column, the authors underscore their belief that the crisis extends well beyond the power won by an outsider whom they consider a demagogue and a liar. “Donald Trump may have accelerated the process, but he didn’t cause it,” they write of the politics-as-warfare mentality. “The weakening of our democratic norms is rooted in extreme partisan polarization—one that extends beyond policy differences into an existential conflict over race and culture.” The authors fault the Republican establishment for failing to stand up to Trump, even if that meant electing his opponent, and they seem almost wistfully nostalgic for the days when power brokers in smoke-filled rooms kept candidacies restricted to a club whose members knew how to play by the rules. Those supporting the candidacy of Bernie Sanders might take as much issue with their prescriptions as Trump followers will. However, the comparisons they draw to how democratic populism paved the way toward tyranny in Peru, Venezuela, Chile, and elsewhere are chilling. Among the warning signs they highlight are the Republican Senate’s refusal to consider Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee as well as Trump’s demonization of political opponents, minorities, and the media. As disturbing as they find the dismantling of Democratic safeguards, Levitsky and Ziblatt suggest that “a broad opposition coalition would have important benefits,” though such a coalition would strike some as a move to the center, a return to politics as usual, and even a pragmatic betrayal of principles.

The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics, rather than in the consensus it is not likely to build.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6293-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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