Neufeld, chair of the Space History Division at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, offers what is likely to be the definitive biography of Wernher von Braun (1912–1977), the man behind both Nazi Germany's V-1 and V-2 rockets and America's postwar rocket program. Spearheading America's first satellite launch in 1958, which brought the U.S. up to par with the Soviet Union in space, von Braun was celebrated on the covers of Time and Life. Neufeld has a deep understanding of the technical and human challenges von Braun faced in leading the U.S. space program and lucidly explains his role in navigating the personal and public politics, management challenges and engineering problems that had to be solved before landing men on the moon. Neufield doesn't discount von Braun's past as an SS member and Nazi scientist (which was downplayed by NASA), but concludes nonjudgmentally that von Braun's lifelong obsession with becoming the Columbus of space, not Nazi sympathies, led him to his Faustian bargain to accept resources to build rockets regardless of their source or purpose. A wide range of readers (not only science and space buffs) will find this illuminating and rewarding. 16 pages of photos. (Sept. 26)
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*Starred Review* A historian of German rocket technology (The Rocket and the Reich, 1994), Neufeld enters the populated field of von Braun biographies with, it is safe to say, the most comprehensively researched one. Only von Braun's relatives, it seems, have denied their stories to the author, whose documentary synthesis covers the qualities that vaulted von Braun into technological leadership. Neufeld argues that von Braun's true distinction lay in organizational management. He could spot talent, motivate it with charisma, and persuade national leaders to fund his futuristic visions. That these leaders were initially those of Nazi Germany is the fulcrum of von Braun's life: Neufeld's account and assessment of von Braun's enmeshment in the Nazi system illustrates a progression arriving at party and SS membership, and involvement with forced labor. Letting readers mull the war-criminal question, Neufeld proceeds to the von Braun team's capture and transportation to the U.S. in 1945, von Braun's Christian conversion experience, and his fame in the 1950s and beyond as a space-flight proselytizer. Cautious in tone, Neufeld's judicious portrait of von Braun's outstanding qualities and his moral compromises promises to become a space-history mainstay. Taylor, Gilbert --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
It is a biography of an exceptional man, astonishingly gifted and
hardworking, whole life pursuing his space dream to become reality. Read more
This biography is extremely well researched, and is surely a staple of the available literature on von Braun. Read morePublished 7 months ago by John S.
This book has a strong bias against Von Braun it is a constant theme rather than being delt with once and then moving on to other things. Read morePublished 10 months ago by major
Solid recap of Wehner Von Braun and his quest to shoot rockets into the air and space. Much discussion has been made about his ties to the Nazis and the author spends a... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Robert Sparrenberger
The author does not let words flow in this book. I found it very hard to read and capture my attention. There is way too much little detail that means nothing about the story. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Joe Julian
I rate this book very highly, because of the information provided by the author. However, it is difficult to rate Von Braun. He was a brilliant opportunist. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Raymond J. Grochowski
The historical detail of this book is quite impressive, and Neufeld is a passable writer. The book is quite good overall, though there were aspects of it that consistently... Read morePublished 16 months ago by P.H.