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

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 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017


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



Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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