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Korolev: How One Man Masterminded the Soviet Drive to Beat America to the Moon 1st Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0471327219
ISBN-10: 0471327212
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The history of the intensely secretive Soviet space program makes a riveting backdrop to this lucid biography of the dominant figure in that program, Sergei Korolev (1907-66). A brilliant engineer and superb organizer, Korolev also possessed the cynicism and political cunning necessary to get his work done and protect his staff from a government so paranoid he was forced to work in anonymity, known only as the Chief Designer. The author, himself an aerospace professional, interviewed many of Korolev's colleagues in Russia and brings to life both his enormous achievements and his earthy personality. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In the late 1950s and early 1960s when the West was stunned by the space accomplishments of the Soviet Union, the identity of their "Chief Designer" was a state secret in keeping with the tradition of Russian national secrecy. It was not until his death at age 59 that the name of Sergei Korolev was revealed to the world for posthumous honor by his government. Through interviews with family members and former colleagues, Harford, executive director-emeritus, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, reveals the complex, driven personality of a man who, despite unjust imprisonment in the Gulag, toiled tirelessly for the Soviet military industrial complex. Harford clearly demonstrates that Korolev was literally the indispensable man behind the Soviet space program whose untimely death hobbled the Soviet effort to land men on the moon. More than just a biography, this is also history of the Soviet space program at the height of the Cold War. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.?Thomas J. Frieling, Bainbridge Coll., Ga.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (March 11, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471327212
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471327219
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #217,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Jones on May 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
Sergei Pavlovich Korolyev was the "chief designer" responsible for the development of the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and artificial earth satellite (Sputnik 1). The authoritative biography of Sergei Pavlovich must probably await a translation from the Russian. More technical detail is required beyond what is available in Hartford's book. Still, the present volume is the best current study of Korolyev available in English. The book is more than adequate for a popular readership but will occasionally annoy the professional with errors like the one on page 255 where Hartford claims that the Soyuz reentry capsule is spherical and the orbital module is bell-shaped. The opposite is true. I also felt there was a bit too much speculation mixed in with the historical fact.
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Format: Hardcover
In the movie,"The Right Stuff," there is a scene where Lyndon Johnson is in a briefing room, viewing stolen film footage of the Soviet space program. As head of a White House Committee to get America's own space efforts back on track, Johnson seethes with frustration as he sees a smiling image of the mysterious Chief Designer. "Get that moron off the screen," he cries, as he can no longer take any more of what certainly appears to be gloating.
The man on the screen is Korolev, subject of Harford's exceptionally researched biography. As it turns out, Korolev was indeed "off the screen" of world events of the time. The very idea is so contrary to American impulses -- having a huge role to play in the glamourous, headline-grabbing battle of superpowers -- and remaining anonymous. This story is one of keeping what could have been a justifiably enormous ego under excruciatingly tight wraps. Perhaps it is a story which Americans now need to hear, in this age of media hype and instantly manufactured celebrities.
Harford tells of Korolev's rise to prominence in the Soviet space program with real passion. He does not, however, idealize, as he is careful to present many diverse opinions from many sources. Most of these come from deep within that bureaucratic enigma of Russian space engineering and research organizations. All told, however, the Chief Designer's life and times invoke tremendous respect and admiration. The pressures this man faced, developing the manned space flights as well as military missiles as well as spy sattelites ... as well as coping with a paranoid leadership which insisted on optimum results with far from adequate resources. Job stress redefined on a new level!
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By A Customer on June 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is an amazing book. If you're interested in the space race this is a must read. The book is filled with facinating, little-known facts. For instance, the first manned flight nearly killed Yuri Gagarin when his spacecraft began to spin out of control.
It starts a little slowly but by the time Korolev is sent to a Gulag (for no reason) the pace picks up and never subsides.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are not familiar with the space race between the U.S. and Soviet Union from 1946-1969, this book would bore you. If you have a degree of familiarity with the subject, this tome will fascinate you. Harford does a fabulous job in his depiction of Sergei Pavlovich Korolev, the "Chief Designer" of the Soviet space program. He was able to interview several of the engineers and designers who worked under Korolev (who died in 1969), shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union. By utilizing these rare oral histories from the actual participants, mixed with his review of archival documentation and his knowledge in rocketry, he weaves together a fact-based account of the life of one of the most important people in the history of the space race.

If there is a detriment to the book it would be that his technical expertise comes in during discussions of rockets and rocket engines. Without prior knowledge of the intricacies of rocket dynamics, the information becomes meaningless to the reader.

Having an extensive interest and curiosity into the space race, and with having read numerous volumes on the topic prior to picking this book up, I rate it five-stars.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sergei Pavlovich Korolev was pure genius. Largely unknown in his time and now largely forgotten, Korolev was the chief designer of the Russian space program. He designed and developed the Russian ICBM R7 rocket, Sputnik -- the first Earth-orbiting satellite, Vostok -- the first spacecraft which carried Yuri Gagarin around the Earth, and began the design of the Soyuz spacecraft -- the workhorse still in use today as transit to the International Space Station.

Hartford's book is a must read for anyone wanting to learn about Korolev. His story may surprise you. The journey of a young flying enthusiast, his imprisonment and sentencing to a gulag preceded his slow rise to the stars.

An excellent book, thoroughly researched and well written make for a well-informed, even riveting, biography well worth the reading. Most highly recommended.
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By Robert M. on February 16, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This guy burned himself out building the Soviet Space Program.
He did it like an Entrepreneur, in the Soviet Union to boot.
Just pay the biggest bonuses to the folks who build the best equipment.
Now isn't that a novel idea!
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