Just the thing for aspiring astronauts and rocketeers.



Engaging account of the race to get a rocket up to the Karman line without getting NASA involved.

In her last book, The Billionaire and the Mechanic (2013), former San Francisco Chronicle journalist Guthrie recounted Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s quest to win the America’s Cup. Here, she recounts entrepreneur Peter Diamandis’ libertarian dream of taking space exploration out of the hands of government and putting it into the hands of private citizens. Of course, there’s a reason government handles most space flight: it costs staggering amounts of money. Diamandis was not always wealthy, writes Guthrie, but he had been single-minded about his pursuit, blending studies in engineering and medicine while sublimating some of his other interests. “There were times when Peter longed for a girlfriend,” writes the author, “and other times when he realized love would have to wait.” Big-picture thinker thus secured, Guthrie’s tale turns to the foot soldiers of the piece, chief among them 63-year-old test pilot Mike Melvill and his team of desert-rat mechanics, who pinned all their hopes on winning the $10 million purse that Diamandis offered for a spacecraft that could get beyond Earth’s atmosphere. As Virgin Group founder Richard Branson writes in the foreword, because of Diamandis and his XPRIZE, “billions of dollars have been invested in commercializing space.” Guthrie’s book isn’t quite up to the literary heights of Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff (1979), but it’s very good. The author treats matters of scientific and technical weight with a light hand, as when she writes of how a test flight is put together—with a lot of data analysis and braking at first, then with a few passes in the “thin cushion of air inches above the runway,” and then, finally, in the wild blue yonder.

Just the thing for aspiring astronauts and rocketeers.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59420-672-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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