LOST MOON

THE PERILOUS VOYAGE OF APOLLO 13

In another of this year's lunar memorial volumes, Lovell, commander of Apollo 13, vividly recalls that nearly disastrous moon mission in superb, measured, dramatic prose. It was to have been NASA's third lunar landing. But on April 13, 1970, almost 56 hours and 200,000 miles away from Earth, an explosion aboard the spacecraft left astronauts Lovell, Fred Haise, and John Swigert with almost no power and less than two hours' worth of oxygen. If something wasn't done, the three men would soon suffocate and the crippled craft would continue in an ``absurd, egg-shaped orbit...for millennia.'' While the world watched and waited, inescapable comparisons were drawn with the January 1967 tragedy in which Gus Grissom, Roger Chaffee, and Ed White were killed in an explosion during a dress rehearsal for the first manned Apollo mission. The authors (Kluger is a contributing editor of Discover) provide a gripping version of that event and an excellent history of the whole Apollo program. Lovell had been on Apollo 8, the first manned ``trans-lunar journey,'' and his description of his initial glimpse of the moon as the spacecraft began orbit is extraordinary. But sightseeing was far from his mind when Apollo 13 went haywire. The scientists at Mission Control, those ``responsible for keeping the mechanical organism alive in a place that it really had no business being,'' put the spacecraft through a series of maneuvers that they could only hope would return the astronauts safely. Lovell and his men, meanwhile, abandoned ship, climbing into the tiny but intact lunar excursion module (LEM), where they stayed until just prior to splashdown. They then returned to the command module, jettisoned the LEM, and landed in the Pacific, shaken and ill from their ordeal. Even the hard science comes clear here. Lovell and Kluger recapture—and rekindle—our sense of awe and wonder at manned space flight. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 1994

ISBN: 0-395-67029-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1994

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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