In one of the most turbulent years in modern American history, the Apollo 8 mission to the moon served as a desperately needed morale boost for Americans.
Sandler explains the historical significance of the mission in the broader context of the Cold War space race and the tumultuous events occurring in the United States. In 1968, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, riots in major cities across America, and growing protests against the Vietnam War left Americans needing something good to believe in. NASA’s mission to orbit the Earth in Apollo 8 and test a lunar landing module was scheduled for the end of the year, but this changed when the CIA discovered the Soviet Union planned to send its own mission around the moon. That would be another crucial victory for the USSR in the space race that began in 1957. Sandler describes how NASA decided Apollo 8 would be the first manned trip around the moon and offers a detailed chronicle of the difficult mission and the crew who successfully completed it. The book is abundantly illustrated with archival photographs, and a highlight of this informative, engaging text is Sandler’s discussion of the iconic Earthrise photograph and how it “became a symbol of the Earth’s fragility, a reminder of just how small and insignificant the Earth’s place in the universe truly is.”
In its 50th-anniversary year, a compelling account of the historical significance of a lesser-known space mission. (photos, source notes, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-14)