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T-Minus: The Race to the Moon Paperback – May 19, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up–Beginning 12 years before the lunar landing, this book chronicles the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union through a catalog of both countries' multiple attempts on the road to manned spaceflight. Organized as a countdown, making the outcome seem inevitable, the frequent, prominent sidebars list a type of rocket, the duration of its flight, and whether the mission was a success or a failure. There are more than 30 attempts chronicled, and the shift between Soviet and U.S. successes creates an interesting balance in the narrative. Ottaviani credits the early Russian successes to chief designer Korolev, and his influence and personal vision fill the first half of the book. The American portion of the narrative lacks a parallel central architect, with the text focusing less on process and more on the majesty, beauty, and peril of simply being in space. The story is necessarily condensed–the author notes that approximately 400,000 people worked on the U.S. projects overall–but plentiful information is provided in the numerous panels and explanatory captions per page. The copious detail will appeal to some, and certainly helps to underscore the meticulous research that went into this undertaking. Ottaviani is particular with facts and eager to inspire readers with regard to the scientific process.–Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NH END --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Jim Ottaviani, a former engineer who is now a librarian at the University of Michigan, has garnered numerous nominations and awards (including Eisner and ALA/YALSA nods) for his graphic novels about science. He speaks regularly on comics in venues ranging from local schools to Stockholm’s Nobel Museum. Jim lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Kevin Cannon and Zander Cannon (no relation) have worked together since 2004, illustrating such books as Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards and The Stuff of Life. Zander earned two Eisner awards for his work on the Top Ten series. Both Cannons reside in Minneapolis.
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Central organization vs decentralized approaches, strict vs "try to guide" public affairs management, system vs personal responsibilities.
This is an excellent book. It is as much a comparative study of management and economy styles as it is a history of the aera now called the space race.
While it emphasizes the american side, it does not look to the soviet side without respect and sympathy.
It is among the few books I recommend to gift to others.
The illustrations are great. When the Russians speak, the occasional letter appears backwards. It seems well researched and is well plotted giving proper praise of each triumph whether it be East or West. A great read for those who recall the heady days of NASA or those too young to have experienced the race to the moon. My only complaint is that it is too short.
This is mostly an ensemble cast, but if there's a single star it's the mysterious genius in charge of the Soviet space program - The Designer. I didn't really know much about him (we still don't, in absolute terms, but I sure know a lot more now). And in fact the USSR most likely would have beaten the US to the Moon if not... well I won't spoil the why.
While the art may be appropriately clinical, the story is as much human as technical, and the book is a slowly building crescendo to a double page spread that to my surprise actually choked me up a bit. I had not to that point realized how pulled into the book I was.
Some of Ottaviani's other books are a bit too introspective for me to recommend to just anyone, but this and Bone Sharps I would recommend to anyone of any age.
Over all this is a solid story and any space enthusiast will appreciate it. It succeeds in breathing life into the less glamorous side of th space race.
Every boy with an interest in space, rocketry, science or engineering should have a copy and so should every school library.