From Publishers Weekly
Phelps ( Chappie ) tells a disconcerting story of a meritocracy with a melanin ceiling. The U.S. government's space program is depicted as a corps shaped by an arrogant, ingrown elitism which discouraged racial diversity among its candidates regardless of their competencies. For the first 17 years of manned space flight, America's astronauts were exclusively white and male; since 1978, only seven African Americans have cracked that circle. Phelps's profiles include chapters on Air Force Capt. Edward Dwight, passed over by NASA in 1962, Ronald McNair, who died in the Challenger explosion, and Mae Jennison, the first African American woman in space. Their experiences suggest that the path to the stars may be open to those who dream, but dreamers of color must fight for their place--the right stuff isn't necessarily enough. Photos not seen by PW .
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
YA-When the Eisenhower administration created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1959 to counter the Russian efforts in space exploration, it was strongly speculated that the "promise of fame and glory that came with the title of astronaut led to a conscious decision to exclude minorities and women from the program." This was no idle speculation because those first astronauts, all of them white males, won instant celebrity, lucrative contracts with national magazines, and profitable speaking tours. As of today, only seven African Americans have been a part of this program, and only one of them female. Phelps has personalized the struggle to integrate it by recounting the obstacles these disciplined professionals faced. Written in a frank, easy-to-read style, the detailed accounts of these dedicated individuals show the evolution of NASA and its space program in a very personal way.Pat Royal, Crossland High School, Camp Springs, MD
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.