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Five Billion Vodka Bottles to the Moon: Tales of a Soviet Scientist Hardcover – July, 1991

2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0393029901 ISBN-10: 0393029905 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

These shrewd and poignant anecdotes of a creative astrophysicist's life in the Soviet Union bear witness to the scars of his generation: WW II privation and poverty, Cold War science hysteria, Soviet anti-Semitism, the politicization of science. Shklovsky seems to have borne them all with nearly comic grace while producing some of the era's most important theoretical insights, in radioastronomy in particular. His Jewish ethos, his iconoclastic nature (the title metaphor refers to Shklovsky's own calculation of the magnitude of the U.S.S.R.'s alcoholism problem) and the intuitive, even eccentric nature of his work, kept him outside the Soviet science establishment but made him both loved and respected in the international space-science community. The science in the book is almost incidental to Shklovsky's sketches of working within Soviet bureaucracy, battling academic hacks, impressions from his few trips to the West and encounters with colleagues like Andrei Sakharov and Lev Landau. This collection, selected from a typescript version circulated in the Soviet scientific community, includes his ponderings on extraterrestrial life, initial encounters with a French menu--and firsthand accounts of the terrors of Stalinist repression. The book gives a ragged impression of a scientist who was a strong force in his field and an irrepressible spirit. Shklovsky died in 1985 at age 69.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Although Shklovsky was a brilliant theoretical astrophysicist, this volume of his reminiscences tells relatively little about his scientific work. It amounts, rather, to a collection of anecdotes about his experiences as a Soviet citizen from the years of Stalinist terror to the time of his death in 1985. His remarks are very opinionated, frequently hilarious, and consistently fascinating. Some of his tales provide vivid accounts of the horrors of life under repressive rule and amidst the slaughter of World War II. Some of the translators' footnotes correct minor textual errors concerning American individuals and institutions. All in all, this is an uplifting book about the survival of a productive scientist and undaunted human being during perilous times.
- Jack W. Weigel, Univ. of Michigan Lib., Ann Arbor
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 268 pages
  • Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc; 1 edition (July 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393029905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393029901
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 1.1 x 5.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,449,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 14, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This out-of-print book is full of great stories by/about a little known soviet scientist whose work foreshadowed many of the ideas later popularized in the west. For example, a book by Shkolvsky was the launch-pad for Carl Sagan's career; "Intelligent Life in the Universe" was Shkolovsky's (translated by Sagan and with Sagan's annotations marked) but no royalties or fame ever came Shkolvsky's way and surprisingly enough this caused no (apparent) animosity between them. If you would enjoy a book by/about a better known scientist such as Sagan you will find this an excellent and enjoyable addition to your shelf!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Maria Gainer on February 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the book that I have ordered. The book was delivered on time and in good condition. I have read this book in Russian in the past and ordered it to see how it was translated. I have not yet have time to look into it.
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