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T-Minus: The Race to the Moon Paperback – May 19, 2009
I Am: 40 Reasons to Trust God
Through Bible stories, short devotions, and prayers, children discover the meaning of each name and how it relates to their lives. Hardcover
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In the case of T-Minus, the countdown is the premise of the book and while the reader knows that the race will be won when the clock expires, the book's characters are racing against a different deadline: JFK's challenge to put a man on the moon and return him to earth by the end of the decade.
So brings T-Minus: The Race to the Moon, a compelling behind-the-scenes story of the space race filled with software glitches, landing bags that deploy prematurely, loose heat shields and a pair of cosmonauts forced to hide in their downed capsule while Siberian wolves threaten them outside. Told with parallel stories of the United States vs. the Soviet Union, with characters that come and go as the years pass, the artwork pulls you into the world of scientists and space travelers and makes you feel what they actually felt. The character introductions are subtle. Every few pages I say to myself "Oh, there's John Glenn..." or "Hey, that's Yuri Gagarin." They are woven in seamlessly and their allegiance is discernable by a clever variance in speech bubble font (the Russkies speak their words with a backwards N).Read more ›
There's a lot of good about this book. It tries to tell the story of the space race with as much of an eye to the Russian side as to the American. I had never heard of The Great Designer, Sergei Korolev, the sickly Soviet master engineer who was the Werner von Braun of the Soviet space program. The contrast between the stunning early Russian space "firsts" contrasted with string of the US rocket disasters was as eye-opening as the later American series of successes and Russians debacles.
That said, the book's missteps were irritating. Many launches are described with a single illustration on the sides of a page. Many critical missions of the Gemini program, which tested the ability of astronauts to rendezvous and dock in space, were "covered" in a few confusing throwaway side panels. And the attention paid to certain missions or events was out of balance to their importance. The routine orbit of Apollo 8 around the moon went on for page after page. Also, the arguments about which corporations should build the US space craft were hard to follow and borderline irrelevant. And Ottaviani more than occasionally got lost in depicting unintelligible NASA space-talk.
In the end, though, I came away a great deal of knowledge from this imperfect depiction of the space program, and the two-party race to the moon. Not a glowing endorsement, but a thumbs up, weakly, nonetheless.
Every boy with an interest in space, rocketry, science or engineering should have a copy and so should every school library.
This is mostly an ensemble cast, but if there's a single star it's the mysterious genius in charge of the Soviet space program - The Designer. I didn't really know much about him (we still don't, in absolute terms, but I sure know a lot more now). And in fact the USSR most likely would have beaten the US to the Moon if not... well I won't spoil the why.
While the art may be appropriately clinical, the story is as much human as technical, and the book is a slowly building crescendo to a double page spread that to my surprise actually choked me up a bit. I had not to that point realized how pulled into the book I was.
Some of Ottaviani's other books are a bit too introspective for me to recommend to just anyone, but this and Bone Sharps I would recommend to anyone of any age.
The illustrations are great. When the Russians speak, the occasional letter appears backwards. It seems well researched and is well plotted giving proper praise of each triumph whether it be East or West. A great read for those who recall the heady days of NASA or those too young to have experienced the race to the moon. My only complaint is that it is too short.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought this book for a young boy who loves all things space and astronauts. Flipping through it, I saw a curse word in it so I don't feel good about giving it to him now. Read morePublished 1 month ago by VALERIE SINEX
An excellent way to track the Superpowers' struggle for domination in space as each launch and development is shown with national iconography. Read morePublished 10 months ago by ProfClio
I'm a real space nut and enjoyed this story. It's nice to see other characters in this incredibly important story get their day in the sun too... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Czarchaeologist
This is an historically and technically accurate, although somewhat simplified, story of the race between the United States and the Soviet Union to land a man on the moon. Read morePublished on January 1, 2014 by John H Ousterhout
I got this book out of my local library because I love the whole space travel concept, And also because my friend reccomended it. Read morePublished on April 23, 2011 by Adam
A great story, well told and beautifully illustrated. I couldn't put it down. Aside from the engaging story-line, this incredible work is loaded with interesting facts and figures. Read morePublished on August 11, 2009 by Rob Hess