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Space Race: The Epic Battle Between America and the Soviet Union for Dominion of Space Hardcover – May 9, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cadbury (Dreams of Iron and Steel) focuses on two men "obsessed by the same vision... locked in an unparalleled contest" to reach outer space: one is the cold, charismatic Wernher von Braun, but the soul of this finely honed, consistently compelling tale (the basis for a National Geographic channel series to air in June) belongs to Sergei Korolev. Korolev survived Stalin's gulag to become the mythical chief designer of the Soviet space program for 20 years. Driven to beat the Americans, Korolev and his team of long-suffering scientists and technicians, working with inadequate funding, threw together spacecraft of dubious quality and launched them into space. While von Braun's reputation has suffered immeasurably from the release of secret files revealing his use of slave labor under the Nazis, Korolev, though unacknowledged in his lifetime, today remains a hero in Russia. In the end this is a cautionary tale, a story of what happens when the dreams of humankind are hijacked by the darker aspirations of politics: the space shuttle still flies and the ICBMs still wait in their silos, and we are left to wonder at what price we soar to the heavens. 8 pages of color and 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Cadbury traces the development of rockets and spaceflight from German experiments before World War II to the manned moon landings, telling the story in layperson's language (though with a fine glossary appended) and in the process providing powerful biographies of the two outstanding designers, Wernher von Braun and Sergei Korolev. Korolev began as a supervisor of the efforts of German technicians captured during and after the war but later achieved outstanding results with his own designs by launching Sputnik and the first manned orbital flights. Von Braun's history included winking at the use of slave labor but also a succession of breakthroughs that led to the historic day in July 1969 when Neil Armstrong stepped out on the moon. Both Soviet and U.S. programs were plagued with failures and outright disasters that Cadbury graphically though evenhandedly describes, and Korolev literally worked himself to death. The true monument to both designers is the last two generations of manned spaceflight. Appealing to everyone from the generation who listened in high school to the early launches to high-school students today who want a keen-sighted view of the spacefaring past, this outstanding volume is likely to be one of the standards on its subject for years to come. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (May 9, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060845538
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060845537
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #197,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Susan Anonstrom on January 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Note: this book has already been released in the UK and Australia, so I'm doing a review of it before it has been released in the USA.

I should have realized when I picked up the book that I was wasting my money. The front cover of the UK/Australian version of this book is slightly different from the USA edition and the title is "Space Race: The untold story of two rivals & their struggle for the moon". Of course this story has already been told at least a dozen times - just do a search for `Space Race' or similar on Amazon. I should have realized that with a title that was so blatantly wrong to put the book down and get something else.

The book is basically a historical look at the USA and USSR space programs up to the Apollo 11 landing and there is nothing wrong with this - I enjoy reading books covering the historical background on various scientific, engineering and technical topics. Great examples include `Latitude' by David Sobel, `The Measure of all things' by Ken Alder, and of course, `The Right Stuff' by Tom Wolfe. However in `Space Race' there are numerous scientific and technical errors - and not just a few small ones either. Almost every time the author delves into some technical area there are fundamental and gross errors. For example, the author states that solar panels use the sun's heat to generate electricity. Well, no, solar panels (photovoltaic panels) actually use light, not heat. She refers to oxidizers as `fuel' rather than propellant and states that napalm will ignite in the vacuum of space. To some it may be unreasonable to criticize these errors, but if such basic technical errors are made it not only shows that the book was not properly researched and proof-read, but it also leads one to doubt the historical accuracy of the book.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By book addict on May 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
If there's one thing more difficult than making history interesting to a general audience, it's writing a history of scientific achievement. While Deborah Cadbury's Space Race is not a perfect work, it does a worthy job of telling the history of the race between the United States and the Soviet Union to achieve supremacy in space. Cadbury makes this more than dry scientific history by looking at the two programs from the standpoint of the two men leading the projects.

Space Race is a companion to a television series of the same name that aired on the BBC last year and is scheduled to air on the National Geographic Channel next month. Cadbury tells the story by alternating in each chapter between Wernher von Braun and the American program and the Soviet program during roughly the same time period with a focus on von Braun's Soviet counterpart, Sergei Korolev. While von Braun was appearing before television cameras and gracing magazine covers, Korolev was unknown even in his own country. The Soviet obsession with secrecy meant that he was known only as the "Chief Designer." In fact, when Yuri Gagarian was honored in Red Square for being the first man in space, Korolev was not on the balcony or at the head table for the celebratory events. In fact, he never even made it to Red Square because his car broke down.

Cadbury uses this approach to take us from Korolev's imprisonment in the Soviet gulag during the Stalinist purges and the race to find Nazi rocket scientists as World War II came to a close to Korolev's death in 1966 and the ultimate success of America's lunar program. Where Cadbury excels is in taking us inside Korolev's life, work and struggles.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Irishgal on May 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
Non-fiction is, for me, often a struggle to read. I love stories, and while fiction can always serve my needs, I've found non-fiction usually falls short. Even historical events, which are stories in and of themselves, can become so full of technical jargon and academic analysis that they become flattened and I find myself losing interest.

Thus, I have found myself surprised by the general negative reviews of Deborah Cadbury's "Space Race". I picked this book up at the library after looking for something on the Apollo program and immediately became enthralled. Cadbury focuses on the two men behind the race to the moon: German Wernher von Braun, who worked for the Americans after World War II, and Sergei Korolev, the secret mastermind behind the Soviet space program. Rotating between their lives both before the Nazi regime fell in Europe and after, as the Cold War went into full swing, she paints a picture of two men driven by the same intrinsic need: to see men on the moon.

The men themselves couldn't be more different. Wernher von Braun was portrayed as the golden boy, a former Nazi scientist who willingly came to the United States in the hopes of launching a space program that would send man to the moon. Charming, good-looking, and full of ideas, it was his Saturn V rocket that became one of the most powerful pieces of engineering man has ever created. On the flip side is Korolev, a former inmate of the Soviet gulag system who rose above the ashes to become the nation's premier rocket engineer. Though he often had a clash of wills with his engine developers and was frustrated by a lack of funding, he devoted himself completely to his nation's space program, doing whatever was necessary to be the best - with absolutely no recognition during his lifetime.
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