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Falling Back To Earth: A First Hand Account Of The Great Space Race And The End Of The Cold War Paperback – June 2, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
Unfortunately, the NASA part of the book is sandwiched between two irrelevant sections. The first tries hard to rehabilitate two of that Administration's dimmest political bulbs, John Tower and Dan Quayle. The last part is a maundering account of his visits to Yeltsin-era Russia as a Lockheed-Martin executive, filled with descriptions of furniture and lunches.
Even the space policy part of the book is extremely disappointing. Albrecht gives us lots of details, including seemingly verbatim versions of meetings and conversations, but never really gets down to the real issues. Why did senior executive branch officials think that a 24% increase in the NASA budget would be approved by a hostile Democratic Congress? Why did they expect Truly (a former Shuttle astronaut) to help them dismantle Shuttle and Station and promote vague ideas for "new technology" and "new approaches". What was really going on with Lowell Wood and his crazy fly-to-Mars-in-balloons proposal? Why did Albrecht choose Goldin to replace Truly? You won't find any answers here.
The only real value of this work is that it reminds us that the increasing irrelevance of the NASA manned program was becoming obvious to some people over 20 years ago, and that even the smartest people in the business have not thought up a post-Cold War rationale for it (Norm Augustine has tried twice).
Albrecht combines the street savvy of a veteran political operator with a historian's sensibility--a rare, and valuable, combination. This book sent me back to reread Bush and Scowcroft's A WORLD TRANSFORMED, another underappreciated memoir of a time whose dangers, and opportunities, were grasped by only a visionary few. If you lived through the late 1980s and early 1990s and are intrigued by space exploration, this book will take you behind the scenes of policymaking that brought NASA into the new century. If you do not know the broader history, read FALLING BACK TO EARTH in conjunction with A WORLD TRANSFORMED, and thank people like George H.W. Bush, Dan Quayle, Mikhail Gorbachev, and their space officials--especially Albrecht--for building orbital bridges between nuclear-armed nations.
The author shares interesting thoughts about complex times. He touches on problems within NASA and discusses the cultural influences on those who sought to promote cooperation with Russia.
With insight and wit, Dr. Albrecht reports on events, ever mindful of the need to re-inspire the post-Cold War approach to space exploration.
Many readers will take an interest in the serious, reflective, and open approach of Vice President Dan Quayle during the first Bush administration.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I struggled mightily while reading this book: it covers a topic near and dear to my heart, but ultimately failed to convince me of the author's heavy-handed thesis. Read morePublished on January 1, 2012 by samadhi
An insider's acount of how we got to the last Shuttle launch and what the future may have in store.Published on July 8, 2011 by pie