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Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream (Jane Addams Honor Book (Awards)) Hardcover – February 24, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
Known informally as the Mercury 13, these women were the best of the best: pilots who had earned their wings and wanted more. They fought to prove they were just as qualified to be astronauts as the men being trained by NASA, and they had test data to support that argument. ALMOST ASTRONAUTS tells the story of why they never made it into space - a story that serves as a shocking reminder of how deeply ingrained sexism was in American society in the early 1960s.
This book is loaded with compelling details, from vivid descriptions of the testing and training these women endured to media reports from the time period that illustrate just the kind of bias that kept the women out of space in the end. Modern students reading this account will be intrigued by the historical and scientific details, outraged at the attitudes of the powerful people who put up roadblocks for the women who might have been America's first female astronauts, and inspired by the manner in which these women paved the way for others.
Every school year, I'm able to choose just a few books that our full team reads together in class. These books are so well-written that I'm willing to read them out loud four times over the course of a few weeks.Read more ›
Yours for accurate history, Gene Nora Jessen, one of the 13
I think Oberg's follow-up comments in the discussion of his review, rather than the briefer review itself, add quite a bit to the discussion of this excellent book for young readers.
Oberg's comments illuminate the paradox that is LBJ. Then-Vice-President Johnson was nothing if not pragmatic, which is why he was later successful getting civil rights laws passed, but he could be blunt and even vicious in his language. The pragmatic LBJ recognized that making special accommodations for women would lead to other groups asking for the same thing.
But when he said that, he used the language of the bigots who were all too commonly in positions of political power, and it is easy to conclude that he, himself, was a bigot. Oberg makes me reconsider whether Tanya Lee Stone's interpretation was correct, or whether we need a little more nuance to understand Johnson. After all, later in his career Johnson became the president who pushed for and signed some remarkable civil rights legislation.
And when you follow Oberg's review's link to his 2007 article about women space craft commanders, you will see that he admires women in space and the contribution of pioneers like the ones in Stone's book.
He seems to me to be a historian who is arguing for nuance. As an author of books for the same age range as this one, I know that it is not always easy to include such nuances. So I am sympathetic to both Stone's work and Oberg's comments.Read more ›
But back in the 1960s, aspiring women had no such role models; if they wanted young girls to understand that it was possible for women to perform just as well as men, they would have to become the models for future generations. In this book, Stone tells the story of the "Mercury 13," a group of thirteen women who fought tooth and nail for entrance into the space program decades before NASA let any women in. The combination of clear prose, firm social and historical grounding, and the detail-oriented nature of this account had me hooked from the beginning, opening a window into the history of women in space.
Stone portrays her facts convincingly, utilizing quotes from contemporary media sources like newspapers and magazines along with first-person narratives from the women involved and historical photographs. This combination of sources makes the experience of reading this book visceral, something you feel in your gut. This was particularly evident to me in the chapters where Stone describes in a play-by-play manner the physical and psychological tests that the Mercury 13 underwent in order to prove that they were just as capable as men. For a moment, I felt like I was in that isolation tank, or battling with my first experience of zero-gravity.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
it was a big femisnism thing but really streched out and really boringPublished 4 months ago by Brandie Lamberth
Great book about forgotten heroes! I read it and then gave it to my 83 year old mother in law. Even though she lived during that era she'd had no idea that women had been qualified... Read morePublished 9 months ago by S. Connell
bought this for book report my 11 year old daughter had to do. She loved it..Published 20 months ago by Ken in WA
I haven't read the content yet, but it doesn't look as visually interesting and captivating as other award winning nonfiction I have read, especially about space and also about... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Morganne Hiatt
Interesting.could have used more pictures but overall very informativePublished 23 months ago by ll