Essential to understanding JFK’s sponsorship of an historic enterprise linking him to the future.

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JOHN F. KENNEDY AND THE RACE TO THE MOON

With new documents now available, a space historian and founder of George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute revisits a scholarly topic he pioneered: John F. Kennedy’s decision to go to the moon.

It has been a half-century since JFK announced before a televised joint session of Congress, “that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.” In scope and difficulty history’s most astonishing engineering feat, Project Apollo’s success also depended on political will. Logsdon (The Decision to Go to the Moon: Project Apollo and the National Interest, 1970) rightly characterizes the moon shot not as a single decision, but rather a series of pragmatic judgments that kept pushing the program forward. Rejecting the notion of JFK as a space visionary, the author views the president as a practical politician who, in the crucial context of the Cold War, acted to secure the nation’s defense, prestige and progress. Although the challenge and risk of manned space flight—something for which Eisenhower had little enthusiasm—particularly appealed to this youthful, competitive man, Kennedy continually revised his thinking, questioning NASA about its priorities and performance, prodding his White House staff for alternative views and more information and orchestrating a defense against political critics and members of the scientific community unconvinced of manned space flight’s utility. Logsdon charts the evolution of JFK’s thinking about space—including repeated offers as president to cooperate with the Soviets—from his senatorial career up until the assassination. He chronicles the intragovernmental struggle for consensus and highlights the policymaking contributions of presidential aide Ted Sorensen, science advisor Jerome Wiesner, Vice President Lyndon Johnson and NASA administrator James Webb.

Essential to understanding JFK’s sponsorship of an historic enterprise linking him to the future.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-230-11010-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2010

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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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