Wernher von Braun: The Man Who Sold the Moon

18 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0275962173
ISBN-10: 0275962172
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Comment: A very good former library copy with protective dust jacket cover. Only library markings are "withdrawn" stamp on front free end paper and library's name stamped along top edge of text-block (stickers have been cleanly removed). Binding is very good. No underlining, highlighting or notes. Inspected and cleaned prior to listing. Shrink wrapped for added protection. Eligible for FREE Super Saving Shipping! Fast Amazon shipping plus a hassle free return policy mean your satisfaction is guaranteed! Tracking number provided in your Amazon account with every order.
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rocket scientist Wernher von Braun (1912-77)?who helped develop the U.S. missile arsenal during the Cold War, built rockets for NASA, helped put astronauts on the moon and designed Disney's Tomorrowland?was a major in the Nazi SS and one of Hitler's elite. Designer of Germany's V-2 rocket, which killed thousands of British civilians during WWII, von Braun supervised the rocket's construction at the Nazis' Mittelwerk factory, which used slave labor from the nearby Dora concentration camp. This gripping, well-documented biography shatters von Braun's claim that he never witnessed maltreatment of prisoners?a claim buttressed by the U.S. Army in its attempts to cover up von Braun's Nazi record to facilitate his entry into the U.S. Space historian Piszkiewicz (The Nazi Rocketeers) synthesizes available bits of information that prove von Braun's complicity. SS Major von Braun made at least one "official visit of inspection" to Dora in 1944 and participated in a Nazi administrative meeting at Mittelwerk to discuss bringing in a thousand French civilians as slave laborers; over 700 of them later died there. Moreover, in a letter to Mittelwerk's production manager, von Braun tells how he himself went to the notorious Buchenwald camp to arrange for the transport of more prisoners to Mittelwerk. Von Braun, who became a U.S. citizen in 1955, was a national hero to many and prophet of the space age. Including a history of the U.S.-Soviet space race, this biography makes a convincing case that he was also a war criminal, his past sanitized for expediency. The book may provoke moral outrage and a reassessment of the history of America's space program, launched with the help of 118 German rocket scientists brought here from Hitler's Third Reich.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

?[T]his biography makes a convincing case that [von Braun] was also a war criminal, his past sanitized for expediency. The book may provoke moral outrage and a reassessment of the history of America's space program, launched with the help of 118 German rocket scientists brought here from Hitler's Third Reich.?-Publishers Weekly
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger (November 30, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0275962172
  • ISBN-13: 978-0275962173
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,458,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By "timewalker" on August 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
BIASED - That is, unbalanced research by a man who could easily have gone to some firsthand sources but who evidently reached his conclusions before he even bagan his study, then stuck to those conclusions, with all the skill of a lawyer deciding which evidence to select and exclude, in order to show us only one half of a man's face. We are then left to judge, from that half-portrait, the full measure of the man. Granted: von Braun aimed for the stars and sometimes hit London, but he was by every account I know a timid and at times frightened man who was far, far from being a devoted believer in nazism. The historian Walter Lord (who worked for the OSS during World War II) found no similarities between the captured von Braun and Hitler's architect Speers, (the latter spoke loudly and with great charisma about being "the repentant nazi" but the remorse was, according to Lord, all pretense). Sir Arthur C. Clarke had known von Braun before the war and they remained very close friends after the war, right up to the time of the rocket pioneer's death. George Zebrowski and I asked Arthur, some two years ago, about von Braun's knowledge of slave labor at the rocket factory. Arthur said von Braun had told him: "I knew there were bad things happening... prison laborers... slave labor... hangings. I knew some things, and I knew that I could have made an effort to learn more. But I was not brave enough to learn more. If I would have learned more, I would then have felt morally obligated to speak out, again, and try to do something about it. And then I would have very quickly become just another corpse. So I looked away... I looked away." These words echo the lament of Charles Victor Groves in his letters to Walter Lord, describing another cold night in another time and place - but the questions remain the same: What would we have done, in their place? How much does darkness weigh?
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Don't be fooled by the title and outline. While being sold as a biography, this book's place is in "tabloid investigative report"/"war crimes" category.
It is not a biography of Wernher von Braun "per se", neither is it the history of rocket development under his supervision. Rather it is a highly emotional attempt to prove that:
1) Wernher von Braun was a war criminal
2) he should have been put under trial, sentenced and serve the sentence
3) United States did wrong by bringing him in and using his skills and genius for US rocket program Period
The book presumably covers 30 years span from 1945 (von Braun arrival to US) to 1975 (his death). The developments of rocketry in this era are only a background for the author and never paid any serious attention. Mr. Pinzkiewicz 's real interest and effort are invested into collecting and presenting accusations against von Braun Nazi past in chronological order. The technical details of particular important developments of principal space programs are scarce, while "dirty clothes" and cover-up theories are inspected at length and with great interest.
The whole story of Moonship project from 1960 President Eisenhower directive to Apollo 11 landing in 1969 is covered in 9 pages(!). Wernher von Braun's one-time interchange with a French newspaper concerning his Nazi past takes 3 pages. Compare - 9 years of hard and complex work in 9 pages. Several days and several letters - 3 pages.
Even so - Mr. Pinzkiewicz seems never be able to get to any kind of consistent statement- either PRO or CONS. He never has the bravery to say "Wernher von Braun IS beyond reasonable doubt a war criminal based on this, this and that".
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27 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Giovanni Abrate on January 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is an extremely biased account of Wernher Von Braun's life. It makes a strong effort to find "skeletons" in Von Braun's closet, but finally fails miserably in its intent. The fact that the German scientist was, during WW2, a member of the Nazi party and was commissioned by the SS shouldn't surprise anyone who knows how, in order to succeed in the military-industrial complex of Nazi Germany, these were absolutely unavoidable prerequisites. The book is a witch-hunt against the man who, more than anyone else, created modern rocketry and opened the way to space exploration. His record as an American citizen is exemplary and he was a pillar of the community where he lived. The world of science owes Wernher Von Braun a debt of gratitude. Mr Piskiewicz's bitter biography is best avoided. There are other, better biographies of Von Braun available, namely the one by Ernst Stuhlinger and Frederick Ordway, who knew and worked with the German rocketry pioneer.
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24 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Robert Carver on June 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Sadly, books like this one by Piszkiewicz are considered by many to be historically accurate. Piszkiewicz is not a historian and his attempt to hide behind psuedo-historical wording still cannot hide his obvious bias against von Braun. I wrote my MA thesis on von Braun and his Team and these men were not Nazis. Von Braun gets labeled (Neufeld for one) as an opportunist, like that is a bad thing. If I had to choose between the USSR and the USA, darn right I would go with the Americans. Thankfully, von Braun and his team did come to America and were the foundation of our booster program that led to the incredible Saturn V which landed Americans on the moon. Von Braun is a great American Hero, warts and all. There are numerous books out there much better than this shallow attempt at character assassination.
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