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Starman: The Truth Behind the Legend of Yuri Gagarin Paperback – April 12, 2011
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“An extraordinary and accessible examination of this enormous contribution to space exploration, supported by riveting first-hand anecdotes. Essential to any air and space collection.” ―Library Journal (starred)
“Well-written, engaging, and brow-raising in many ways.” ―SpaceCoalition.com
“This excellent narrative will keep you enthralled and give you new perspectives on an old name we're all familiar with.” ―Astronomy Magazine online
“This extraordinarily intimate account of the 1967 death of a Russian cosmonaut appears in a new book, Starman, by Jamie Doran and Piers Bizony, to be published next month. The authors base their narrative principally on revelations from a KGB officer, Venymin Ivanovich Russayev, and previous reporting by Yaroslav Golovanov in Pravda. This version -- if it's true -- is beyond shocking.” ―Robert Krulwich, in his post on NPR.org
About the Author
Piers Bizony is author of the award-winning 2001: Filming the Future a detailed account of the making of Stanley Kubrick's film, The Rivers of Mars: Searching for the Cosmic Origins of Life and Island in the Sky: Building the International Space Station. He also lectures and organizes exhibitions on space-related subjects.
Jamie Doran of Atlantic Celtic Films is an international award-winning documentary producer. After seven years at BBC Television, he went into independent production, where many of his films have concentrated on lifting the lid of secrecy within the former Soviet Union.
Top Customer Reviews
Gagarin had no pedigree whatsoever, yet the distinct lack of it made him perfect for the Communist idea that anyone, no matter how humble, had the opportunity to rise to new heights (in his case, quite literally, albeit briefly) within a so-called egalitarian society, which, as the First Cosmonaut (as he was known) found out to his cost, was nothing of the kind.
Born in 1934, Gagarin entered training as a foundry-man at the age of 16, and it was then that he discovered a new love - flying. His first flight was on board an old Yak-18 trainer, and that made quite an impact on him. In 1953, he was accepted for pilot training in the Soviet air force and he later met and married his wife, Valentina, a nurse. It was when he had been posted to Nikel, a base near the Arctic Circle, that he was asked questions by some mysterious doctors. Within a few weeks, he and a host of other fighter pilots underwent a series of utterly demanding physical tests until eventually he and 19 others were declared the Soviet Union's first cosmonauts.Read more ›
But the flap is peripheral to the book itself, which I found to be a well researched and well written treatment of one human being who was the focal point of humanity's breakout into space. I wholeheartedly recommend it for yourself or family members with even only a vague interest in the subject.
The authors bring up some new material from recently published memoirs from people who have yet to be accepted by space historians [including myself], and perhaps that reluctance is prudent -- time will tell, since there are still deep secrets in Moscow archives that we are not allowed to see, that could knock our socks off. This controversial material of profoundly uncertain reliability is treated fairly by the authors and cautious readers will not be misled.
For telling an old story in a grand new way, for taking advantage of the hindsight that several decades now allows, and for integrating material only recently reaching the public, this book has earned respect.
I grew up a child of the seventies living in the United States, where the Russians only personality according to all the news I got, was that they were bloodthirsty communists and never as the humourous multidimensional people with rich cultural heritage I came to know them to be.
Having been born in the late sixties, from the time I was aware of space as a concept, we were already ahead of them. By the time I was two years old, the United States had already beaten the Russians in the space race.
Yes, we were taught about Sputnik and the fact that the Russians put the first man ( and woman) in space was something mentioned , but not discussed in detail. This book, takes advantage of archives only recently opened, and interviews the people close to Gargarin, and the orginal Soviet cosmonauts, the "little eagles"
Gargarins life after his brief time in space, made him a worldwide rockstar- with all the trappings and temptation that comes with a meteoric vault into superstardom. It humanises him as a man and legend. Additionally this book also does a fantastic job of discussing the life and times of those other fathers of modern space flight that were in orbit around him. People like Alexi Leonov . It's fantastically researched biographical material and does a great job of not only telling Gargarins story, but the stories, life and times of many fascinating people around him. If you're a space dork, this book should be in your collection. I highly recommend it, and at just under four dollars for the Kindle version , it's a bargain of epic proportion.
Buy this book!!!
What was so amazing and sad was how Yuri Gagarin was treated in the years following his epic first flight into space. Too much of a national treasure to be risked for further flights, he became a toy of Soviet propaganda. Yet Gagarin risked all that he had gained to confront Leonid Brezhnev and the Soviet Politburo leaders with the dangers they put other Russian cosmonauts under to fulfill impossible obligations, one that cost the life of fellow cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov with the launch of Soyuz 1, all in the name of a Soviet space spectacular to coincide with Lenin's birthday.
Even the cause of Gagarin's death may have been covered up to suit Soviet politics. He died doing what he loved best - flying - and now, more than ever is a legend.
Starman brought me insight not only to what it was like to be a space pioneer, but illuminated me about life in the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War. It's an excellent book, one that tells a larger story than the larger-than-life central figure of Yuri Gagarin. I highly recommend it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Starman, Jamie Doran and Piers Bizony’s biography of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, was originally published in 1998 and rereleased in 2011 to capitalize on the 50th anniversary... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Karl Janssen
Definitely NOT a hoax. His journey to the moon is more genuine than the claim of George Bush that the US government had no involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Great read!Published 2 months ago by Gladys
For anyone unfamiliar with the " Race for Space " in the 60's this is a must read. If you are old enough to have lived through this period the specifics will be... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Brad Patten
I remember my teachers discussing Yuri's amazing flight during the "current events" part of our history class. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Gus
Great book. Well written, fun and detailed account of a memorable human who sat atop an impressive pyramid of technical accomplishmentPublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
I was part of Mercury and Gemini at the Cape. Many parallels with the Russian program. Gemini spacecraft were manufactured at McDonnell St. Louis, not California! Gene H.Published 4 months ago by Kindle Customer
I had heard of Gagarin, and knew he beat us into space but this story made him human and a real hero. No less than our own astronauts. The Politics of the USSR bPublished 4 months ago by Kindle Customer
Very entertaining and educational book on the shadowy days of the Communist era Soviet space program.Published 7 months ago by Leclerque