Top positive review
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Hang on for a fun ride!
on January 21, 2016
Full disclosure: I know the author, although I do not know her from her aerospace background. That said, I really did enjoy this book. Being a technical person, albeit a big picture person more than a detail person, the book has enough technical insight into the X-15 program that you really know what a marvel of engineering, planning, and teamwork it was. At the same time it doesn't get bogged down in tech and read like textbook. Which brings me to what really made this book and the X-15 program successful: The people. Michelle Evans is a people person and she had access to so many people involved; pilots, crew, engineers, directors, mission control people, technicians, and the families of pilots and other X-15 personnel.
The research and interviews involved in telling this story are mind boggling, how did she get so much access? I don't know, but she did. flights are described in great detail (like from logbooks) you know dates, times, places, altitudes, and speeds. Plus so many photos there is an accompanying website to view them all. The book has photos as well.
The last thing that really made the book enjoyable for me as a native Californian who has been all over the west: They needed a big empty space to do great big things and they found it in the Mojave Desert and Great Basin of Nevada. I can put myself in Mojave or Rosamond, CA, Tonopah or Beatty Nevada because I've been there. Now I know the amazing history of what went on there long ago when the space race was brand new.