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Korolev: How One Man Masterminded the Soviet Drive to Beat America to the Moon Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0471327219 ISBN-10: 0471327212 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (March 11, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471327212
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471327219
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The history of the intensely secretive Soviet space program makes a riveting backdrop to this lucid biography of the dominant figure in that program, Sergei Korolev (1907-66). A brilliant engineer and superb organizer, Korolev also possessed the cynicism and political cunning necessary to get his work done and protect his staff from a government so paranoid he was forced to work in anonymity, known only as the Chief Designer. The author, himself an aerospace professional, interviewed many of Korolev's colleagues in Russia and brings to life both his enormous achievements and his earthy personality. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In the late 1950s and early 1960s when the West was stunned by the space accomplishments of the Soviet Union, the identity of their "Chief Designer" was a state secret in keeping with the tradition of Russian national secrecy. It was not until his death at age 59 that the name of Sergei Korolev was revealed to the world for posthumous honor by his government. Through interviews with family members and former colleagues, Harford, executive director-emeritus, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, reveals the complex, driven personality of a man who, despite unjust imprisonment in the Gulag, toiled tirelessly for the Soviet military industrial complex. Harford clearly demonstrates that Korolev was literally the indispensable man behind the Soviet space program whose untimely death hobbled the Soviet effort to land men on the moon. More than just a biography, this is also history of the Soviet space program at the height of the Cold War. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.?Thomas J. Frieling, Bainbridge Coll., Ga.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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If you enjoy reading about space travel, history, biography or politics, you'll enjoy this book.
Richard Ulrich
The author has done an incredible job of painting a verbal portrait of one of the world's most invisible men.
WALTER MELTON
This book tells the story of Sergei Pavlovich Korolev who was the Mastermind behind the Soviet space program.
D.J. Young

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Robert Jones on May 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
Sergei Pavlovich Korolyev was the "chief designer" responsible for the development of the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and artificial earth satellite (Sputnik 1). The authoritative biography of Sergei Pavlovich must probably await a translation from the Russian. More technical detail is required beyond what is available in Hartford's book. Still, the present volume is the best current study of Korolyev available in English. The book is more than adequate for a popular readership but will occasionally annoy the professional with errors like the one on page 255 where Hartford claims that the Soyuz reentry capsule is spherical and the orbital module is bell-shaped. The opposite is true. I also felt there was a bit too much speculation mixed in with the historical fact.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is an amazing book. If you're interested in the space race this is a must read. The book is filled with facinating, little-known facts. For instance, the first manned flight nearly killed Yuri Gagarin when his spacecraft began to spin out of control.
It starts a little slowly but by the time Korolev is sent to a Gulag (for no reason) the pace picks up and never subsides.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "rrr338" on January 6, 1998
Format: Hardcover
In the movie,"The Right Stuff," there is a scene where Lyndon Johnson is in a briefing room, viewing stolen film footage of the Soviet space program. As head of a White House Committee to get America's own space efforts back on track, Johnson seethes with frustration as he sees a smiling image of the mysterious Chief Designer. "Get that moron off the screen," he cries, as he can no longer take any more of what certainly appears to be gloating.
The man on the screen is Korolev, subject of Harford's exceptionally researched biography. As it turns out, Korolev was indeed "off the screen" of world events of the time. The very idea is so contrary to American impulses -- having a huge role to play in the glamourous, headline-grabbing battle of superpowers -- and remaining anonymous. This story is one of keeping what could have been a justifiably enormous ego under excruciatingly tight wraps. Perhaps it is a story which Americans now need to hear, in this age of media hype and instantly manufactured celebrities.
Harford tells of Korolev's rise to prominence in the Soviet space program with real passion. He does not, however, idealize, as he is careful to present many diverse opinions from many sources. Most of these come from deep within that bureaucratic enigma of Russian space engineering and research organizations. All told, however, the Chief Designer's life and times invoke tremendous respect and admiration. The pressures this man faced, developing the manned space flights as well as military missiles as well as spy sattelites ... as well as coping with a paranoid leadership which insisted on optimum results with far from adequate resources. Job stress redefined on a new level!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Walter Eichelburg on May 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is very well resarched and gives deep insights into the Soviet space effort unknown in the West. A must to read for anyone really interested in space. Before only the American side was presented to the public, while the Soviet side well hidden. Very interesting is the the fate of the N-1 Moon rocket. It is impossible to believe that the Soviets had not only one manned Moon program but two competing ones.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael Wright on June 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
I felt this was the textbook of the Russian space program, extremely detailed and cannot read it like a novel. Besides Korolev, author Harford discusses many other key people (and some from late 1800s). I also felt I had to "think Russian" to absorb the material because education, training, and customs of engineers is different than in United States. James Harford made excellent use from the people who worked directly with Korolev, including Mishin the man that became the next "chief designer" after Korolev died.

My impression of Korolev is how did he manage to do what he did? Author mentioned he had to compete with Boeing, Lockheed, Aerojet, and several other companies in USA. And Korolev also managed satellite programs while working on manned spacecraft and rockets. In addition, Korolev had to pitch for resources from the Politburo and constantly argued with others in the Soviet space program. Author James Harford captured the feeling of Korolev lacking resources he needed unlike Von Braun in developing a moon rocket and spacecraft.

One of Korolev's colleagues said when Kennedy announced the race to the moon, the Soviets could either get in the race or not. They did neither. Now it is 2011 and NASA is working on trying to get back to the moon but the politicking is almost a word-for-word play of what Korolev suffered during the 1960s.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
For any student of the Soviet/Russian space program, "Korolev" fills in the missing gaps in our understanding of the genesis of their thrust into space. The book is informative yet clear in the realization that the heavy bureaucracy, lack of money and technological advances and the "dual" moon programs pre-empted the Russians to effectively compete with the United States in the race to the moon. The author also gives us a keen insight into the cruelty of Josef Stalin and the persecution of the leading Soviet scientists.
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