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Epic Rivalry

When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon in 1969, they personified an almost unimaginable feat-the incredibly complex task of sending humans safely to another celestial body. This extraordinary odyssey, which grew from the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, was galvanized by the Sputnik launch in 1957. Written by Smithsonian curator Von Hardesty and researcher Gene Eisman, Epic Rivalry tells the story from both the American and the Russian points of view, and shows how each space-faring nation played a vital role in stimulating the work of the other. Scores of rare, unpublished, and powerful photographs recall the urgency and technical creativity of both nations' efforts. The authors recreate in vivid detail the "parallel universes" of the two space exploration programs, with visionaries Wernher von Braun and Sergei Korolev and political leaders John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev at the epicenters. The conflict between countries, and the tense drama of their independent progress, unfolds in vivid prose. Approaching its subject from a uniquely balanced perspective, this important new narrative chronicles the epic race to the moon and back as it has never been told before-and captures the interest of casual browsers and science, space, and history enthusiasts alike.
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About the Author

Von Hardesty is a curator at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Gene Eisman is an independent historian.


With this month's 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik I, the first artificial satellite, and the forthcoming 50th anniversary in 2008 of the establishment of NASA, there are many new books to whet the appetites of space enthusiasts. These two titles start at the same place, Sputnik's 1957 launch, with some background on the development of rockets in Germany, the Soviet Union, and the United States, but A Ball, a Dog, and a Monkey stops with the launch of the first U.S. satellite in 1958, and Epic Rivalry follows the space race to the Apollo 11 moon landing. D'Antonio (Atomic Harvest), a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, brings a human perspective to the Sputnik story by interviewing still-living participants and examining a few of the major characters. Much of the focus is on Wernher von Braun and Soviet chief designer Sergey Korolyov, but interviews with scientist James Van Allen, early space reporters Jay Barbree and Wickham "Wickie" Stivers, and many others add a unique personal background to the story. Hardesty (Red Phoenix: The Rise of Soviet Air Power), a curator at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and journalist Eisman do an excellent job of covering the science, technology, and politics of the space race. As new materials become available for research in Russia, more is being learned about the Soviet space program, and Hardesty is well qualified to present the findings. The authors compare the U.S. and Soviet space exploration programs during the cold war. With 75 photos and extensive footnotes, this a good reference book as well as an engaging history. And the foreword by the grandson of Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev, Sergey Khrushchev, is great start. Both titles are recommended for space science collections in public and academic libraries. [For other Sputnik and space history titles, see also Giles Sparrow's Space Flight; America in Space: NASA's First Fifty Years; After Sputnik: 50 Years of the Space Age and Michael J. Neufeld's Von Braun.-Ed.]-Margaret Henderson, Virginia Commonwealth Univ. Lib., Richmond Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"A balanced, reader-friendly re-creation of the origins, progress, thrills and perils attending a prestigious race, desperately important at the time, only dimly remembered today." --Kirkus "An engaging story of visionary scientists focused on space travel, pragmatic politicians eager for triumphs in a propaganda war, and heroic astronauts and cosmonauts risking their lives...compelling narrative of the space race as it unfolded." --Science and Spirit Magazine

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