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 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...


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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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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