Breaking the Chains of Gravity: The Story of Spaceflight before NASA Third Printing Edition
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"Teitel … illuminates the foundations of American spaceflight with this exceptional and detailed ‘prehistory’ of the field … fascinating new territory, filled with a galaxy of lively characters." - Publishers Weekly
"This is a good treatment of the origins of the US space program." - CHOICE magazine
"Breaking the Chains of Gravity tells the story of how we began to explore the cosmos – the lessons we had to learn the hard way – and shows why space exploration even today remains anything but routine." - Bobak Ferdowsi, Flight Director, Mars Science Laboratory
"The Space Race wasn't all about tall, silvery rockets and moon landings. Before America and Russia squared off in an expensive race for glory, a number of quirky, inventive personalities pursued their own goals, with little support. Often facing ridicule for ideas that seemed outlandish to most, they nevertheless laid the foundations for humanity's greatest achievements. Amy Shira Teitel ably chronicles these early efforts to reach beyond our home planet." - Francis French, author of IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON
"Teitel delivers on detail, such as the exploits of supersonic-flight pioneer Chuck Yeager." - Nature
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Second, it goes into depth about the people and their personalities and motives at the time. From the Nazi links of the German scientists to their desire to surrender to the Americans and not the Russian, British, or French armies for fear of retribution for their V-1 and V-2 terror bombings. It also explores the conflicts between the various US service branches and their desire to out perform one another to be the first to put a satellite in orbit. Also, she paints a vivid picture of the fear and panic the US felt when the Soviets get into space first with their Sputnik satellite that orbits over the US, sending its beeping signal out for the whole world to hear.
The only thing I can fault her for is the book being too short. Just as you get all wrapped up in the upcoming manned spaceflight struggle between the US and the USSR, the book ends with the creation of NASA and the selection of the Mercury astronauts. Obviously, the book is about the beginnings of the race to put people in space, it even says so right on the cover with its subtitle: "The Story of Spaceflight before NASA." But still, she's done such a fine job with the pre NASA story, it just cries out for another book about the early days of NASA up till, at least, the final Apollo flights. I have no idea if she is working on such a book, but one can hope.
I enjoyed this book and look forward to Amy's next book.
Since before this book came out I've wanted it, and now I finally have it! And the hardcover was the same price as the softcover, so bonus! This book exceeds my expectations (which were already pretty high because of all the great stuff in her vlog Vintage Space) and I'm really grateful to the author for putting together this wonderful collection of lesser-known historic events and people, which is somehow just exactly the stuff I'm interested in! Well done!
Top international reviews
This book has a style which carried me through events in a very engaging way. I didn't feel as though I was getting a history lesson, but rather I was being let in on a fascinating story with quirky characters and some real eyebrow raising details!
I think where this book really stands out for me (and perhaps where other authors miss the mark) is that it has a definite direction, and it stays right on target. There is a good balance of details and facts (backed up by an extensive glossary and bibliography) and easy flowing narrative which I think will appeal to a broad range of readers. I know members of my family who don't qualify for space-nerd status who will derive just as much enjoyment from this as me! Highly recommended.
I cannot wait for a sequel, picking up where this left.