On the same trajectory as Shelton's American Space Exploration (1967-Little, Brown), this is a fairly mechanical countdown (you can count them up in the appendix-all tile Lunas, Cosmoses--nearing the 170 mark) of the Russian accomplishments. Shelton demythologizes a little in the beginning but Gherman Titov, in his introduction, says the Russians are not competing in any race. Throughout, however, Time-Fortune writer Shelton (who has also written juveniles in this area) makes comparisons with the U.S. which, while having less firsts to add to national pride and prestige, is also very close. He also indicates the inevitably military implications at the beginning, later followed by a chapter called ""Applications"" Which expands the point and makes very clear that the Russians permit us to take ""a look at what they want us to look at."" In between the programmed flights, more glamorous chapters on Titov, Gagarin, and his cosmonette, although Shelton's attempt to enliven his earthen prose sometimes is silly--comparing Titov's ""questioning detachment"" to Holden Caulfield. Primarily it is to be read for its information which is solid--a guided miscellany of orbits, probes, reconnaissances, etc.