For space aficionados especially but also a good choice for general readers seeking an introduction to an underappreciated,...




An aviation historian revisits the conception, development, and inaugural flight of “the last American flying machine built to fly higher and faster than everything that had come before.”

Without the novelty and excitement attending the Mercury and Gemini missions and lacking the romance and triumphal moments that crowned Apollo, the Space Shuttle program has always been the poor stepchild in our manned space flight history, unfortunately better known for its disasters, the loss of the Challenger and Columbia spaceships, than its achievements. White (Vulcan 607: The Epic Story of the Most Remarkable British Air Attack Since the Second World War, 2012, etc.) returns us to the program’s origins, the hugely complex problem of building a reusable workhorse intended to routinize space travel, the political environment that shaped so many decisions, and the tests and preparation leading up to his almost hour-by-hour re-creation of the launch. Astronauts, of course, take pride of place among his large cast of characters, especially Cmdr. John Young and Pilot Robert Crippen and backup crew Richard Truly and Joe Engle. White’s smoothly readable account also features numerous lesser-known figures who played a crucial role in the orbiter’s story and some behind-the-scenes names that became well-known to space enthusiasts. Throughout, the author demonstrates NASA’s debt in terms of money, manpower, and expertise to the Air Force’s scuttled Manned Orbiting Laboratory, a point made most effectively as he chronicles the fear and tension over the tiles that had come loose from Columbia’s heat shield. Would the spaceship survive re-entry? Only difficult-to-retrieve photos from the Department of Defense’s top-secret recon satellites could reassure flight managers and satisfy the crew they could, “traveling three times faster than any winged flying machine had ever flown,” make it safely back to Earth, to an almost perfect landing on a dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base.

For space aficionados especially but also a good choice for general readers seeking an introduction to an underappreciated, thrilling chapter in aerospace history.

Pub Date: April 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2362-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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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