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Two Sides of the Moon: Our Story of the Cold War Space Race Hardcover – September 23, 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"A very valuable account of the way the Cold War was ended in Space."
- Sir Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey

"A very valuable account of the way the Cold War was ended in Space." (Sir Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey)

From the Inside Flap

"Dave Scott and Alexei Leonov have each borne the enormous responsibility of commanding spacecraft and of representing their respective countries in the most fascinating and most expensive race in human history. This is their transcendent recounting of that competition."
- Neil Armstrong, from the Foreword

"Leonov and Scott have gone to extra lengths to explain the inexplicable in Two Sides of the Moon. And thank goodness they have. Theirs was a gamble taken voluntarily and eagerly with the single-minded pursuit of earning the assignment and then getting the job done. Sometimes they were first. Often they were best. Always they were colorful. And yet each time they returned, neither man claimed to have come back a changed man who had gone into space and seen the spirit of the universe. They came back from their missions in space having seen the spirit of themselves as even more of the human beings they were before leaving our world of air, land, and water…. Leonov, the artist and Scott, the engineer/dreamer. The two of them-the Cheaters of Death."
- Tom Hanks, from the Introduction

"What was most significant about the lunar voyage was not that men set foot on the moon, but that they set eye on the Earth."
- Norman Cousins


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1st edition (October 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312308655
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312308650
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 10.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #775,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Thomas Moody on February 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In his seminal work "A Man On the Moon", author Andrew Chaiken describes the quintessenal American astronaut: "Even in a pack of overachievers like the astronaut corps, David Scott stood out. He seemed to have come straight from Central Casting, a six footer with All-American good loooks and built like a decathlon champion. In some circles there was a joke that if NASA ever came out with an astronaut recruiting poster, Scott should be on it." This glowing testament and the providence of being on the most ambitious lunar mission up to that point (Apollo 15) made Dave Scott seem somewhat a hero to young Apollo-crazed 5th grade students like myself (in 1971). That feeling really never went away, so it was with great anticipation that I undertook this dual auto-biography with Alexei Leonov...and the result was mild disappointment. I suppose I expected more in-depth discussion of the technical aspects of Apollo 15 and the training for it, but got a rather pedestrian telling of that mission and the events leading up to it. True, "Two Sides of the Moon" doesn't promise to be a comprehensive account of any particular mission, rather an overlay of two perspectives of the moon race between the Soviet Union and the U.S. If looked at from that perspective, this work is a useful addition to the mountain of literature on the space race...indeed Leonov exposes much new information on the Soviet program that essentially carries this book.

Thrown together for the symbolic Apollo-Soyuz joint mission in 1975, Scott and Leonov established a shaky initial relationship that prospered following the demise of the Soviet Union and this book is the result of the many story-telling sessions that followed.
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this book just a month ago while in a business trip and I must admit that my first impression was that the book was a sort of commercial best-seller, rather hollywood-like. So I was not expecting serious really serious content. But the more I read, the more I came to the conclussion it was a really good book.

I had not the kind of tech-focused expectations of Thomas Moody (see useful review above), but I think it is serious enough for the non-tech or specialized public, whithout been arcane. It's rigorous and at the same time, very readable. A real page-turner.

I think that the book is worth the money. Provides a smart picture not only of space race but also of cold war in a wider sense, from a special and interesting point of view.

Overall, the point with the book is that it is based on two different careers and lives, wich brings a richer depiction of the evolution, both professional and personal of this two outstanding men, astronaut and cosmonaut, at the same time that their respective space programs in Soviet Union and USA.

My congratulations to the authors, the journalist, editors and all people involved in the project. A very well balanced approach on how to present the story and how to narrate it. They've got a great result.

I really enjoyed this book.
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Format: Hardcover
"Two Sides of the Moon" is a fascinating addition to the library of any space historian, whether casual or professional. The book, written by American Astronaut Dave Scott and Soviet Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, focuses on personal and professional struggles set within the political framework of the 1960s (and early 1970s) cold war.

Although I would have preferred more technical detail in the book, I still enjoyed it very much though more from the human interest angle. I liked the technique of alternating narratives from the American and Soviet points of view: the book was skillfully written to reveal the emotions and perceptions of both sides of the space race during key points in the race to the moon (Sputnik, the Apollo 1 fire, Apollo 11, etc.) I found both authors to be likable and appreciated their willingness to share credit with people unknown to the general public, from important organizational keys like Bill Tindall's famous (within NASA, anyway) Data Priority Meetings (and their resultant "Tindallgrams," page 194,) to the awe with which Leonov held Sergei Korolev, the Soviet Chief Designer, whose death all but dashed Soviet attempts to land on the moon prior to the Americans.

The book has an upbeat and optimistic tone, and is good-natured throughout. I enjoyed the behind the scenes trivia the pair provided. Did you know that the first animals to achieve circumlunar flight were a pair of Steppe Tortoises on the Soviet Zond-5 mission? The were recovered safe (but probably confused) in the Indian Ocean on September 17, 1968. Little known facts like this made this book a treasure for readers who traditionally focus on the more technical aspects of the missions.

The book boasts an excellent Foreword by Neil Armstrong, Scott's commander from Gemini 8.
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Format: Hardcover
This is actually two books in one,the biographies of astronaut David Scott (Gemini 8, Apollo 9 & 15) and cosomonaut Alexi Leonov (Voskhod 2, Apollo-Soyuz). In my opinion, Leonov's story is the more interesting and well-told of the two because it describes events in the Soviet space program of the 1960s and 70s I've never read before and the language of the ghost writer doesn't detract from the story. Scott's story is rather bland when compared with the excellent Gemini-Apollo astro-biographies of Gene Cernan and Mike Collins. What I did not like about the book was the ghost writer's (Christine Toomey) propencity to write in such strong Britsh language you'd swear Dave Scott was a bloke in an English pub instead of American fighter pilot/astronaut. Additionally, the ghost writer's total unfamiliarity with aviation came through in her writing, making some of tales told in the book rather silly and disappointing (I've been in the Air Force 19 years, four years at the holy of holies, Edwards AFB). Despite these clangers, the book kept my attention and I enjoyed it. It's not the best book on the space race, but neither is it the worst.
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