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Into That Silent Sea: Trailblazers of the Space Era, 1961-1965 (Outward Odyssey: A People's History of Spaceflight) Paperback – September 1, 2009
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"Eminently readable, well-crafted. . . . The merits of this popular history rest in the elegant narrative and the authors' thoughtful awareness of the space explorer genre." -- Martin Collins "Air & Space Smithsonian" (10/01/2007)
"The straightforward yet engrossing writing style of this history will interest readers from the junior-high level to adults. . . . What is especially compelling about this race into space story is the humanistic narrative, describing the individual cosmonauts and astronauts. . . . For younger readers, the description emphasizes the characteristics of determination, scholarship, loyalty, comraderie, dedication, and fitness-traits that are essential for astronaut applicants." -- Rita Hood "Journal of College Science Teaching" (03/06/2008)
?Eminently readable, well-crafted. . . . The merits of this popular history rest in the elegant narrative and the authors? thoughtful awareness of the space explorer genre. Air & Space Smithsonian -- Martin Collins "Air & Space Smithsonian" (10/01/2007)
?The straightforward yet engrossing writing style of this history will interest readers from the junior-high level to adults. . . . What is especially compelling about this race into space story is the humanistic narrative, describing the individual cosmonauts and astronauts. . . . For younger readers, the description emphasizes the characteristics of determination, scholarship, loyalty, comraderie, dedication, and fitness?traits that are essential for astronaut applicants. Rita Hoots, Journal of College Science Teaching -- Rita Hood "Journal of College Science Teaching" (03/06/2008)
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This book changed all that, with a vengeance! In the biographical accounts of these astronauts and cosmonauts, I found myself confronted with characters I simply couldn't dismiss-- real people with fascinating life stories (especially the cosmonauts), who took unthinkable risks to make unprecedented discoveries. I got a strong sense of what each person was about, what drove him or her, and I grew to feel quite an affection for four in particular (Titov, Popovich, Carpenter, and Wally Funk. Oh, Wally Funk! She's marvelous).
I was drawn in by the set-up of the chapters, which alternate smoothly between the American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts. As stated, the cosmonauts held slightly more fascination for me (with the exception of Funk), but there is not a dull page in the book. Suspense is masterfully built up. At times I began to experience the more dangerous moments a little too vividly, and had to remember to breathe!
Non-fiction books rarely affect me so. Perhaps this is due to the approachable, warm, no-nonsense writing by Francis French and Colin Burgess. It is a collaboration, yet speaks with one consistent voice.
I'm sure this book is great for people who already have a love for the history of space travel. Even more, though, I'd recommend it for readers like me: those who need to be reminded how interested they once were and, when it comes down to it, still are.
Some highlights for me:
-the Soviet program chapters. I actually started caring about these guys even more than I had before. Reading about their early lives, learning where exactly they came from and how they came up, drawing similarities and differences between them and our earliest astronauts... And especially finding out at the end of the day, most of them were just fly by the seat of their pants, jet fuel in their veins, fighter jocks just like our guys were.
-the Lovelace testing for women. Now this I had heard of, but I definitely did not know how deep it went or who the big names in the movement were. Incredibly interesting.
-early Soviet aerospace medicine vs. NASA flight surgeons. If Deke Slayton were born in Ukraine instead of Wisconsin, studied/flew at Zhukovsky instead of Edwards, became a cosmonaut instead of an astronaut, but still had that same atrial fibrillation, he would have probably been cleared to fly Vostok, Voshkod, or Soyuz.
So that's just a few. But of course, for those of you who have not read this book on the early American and Soviet programs, definitely pick it up!
Much of what I have read has been focused around Apollo but it was nice to read more about Mercury and the brave astronauts who flew in that spacecraft.
A great companion to In the Shadow of the Moon. Highly recommended!
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