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David West Reynolds is the author of 10 books, and combined they have sold over two million copies in nine languages. He has a PhD from the University of Michigan and is an expert in space exploration and its history. He has made numerous television appearances and his writings, diagrams, illustrations and photographs have appeared in scientific journals, books, magazines and other publications, including National Geographic's best-selling Epic Rivalry: The Inside Story of the Soviet and American Space Race.
In this profusely illustrated history of America's spaceport, Reynolds supplies basic information about the place, but his best value is imparting a sense of the procedures for launching a rocket. This a refreshing difference from the usual space book's emphasis on missions and astronauts, although Reynolds' text does adopt a chronological structure from the cape's first launch in 1950 to the shuttle missions of the present. The first section describes the requisite infrastructure, such as hangars to assemble rockets and special vehicles to transport them to the launchpad. These standard elements, Reynolds explains, were devised by--who else?--V-2 mastermind Wernher von Braun, whose career in Nazi Germany and postwar America is prominently featured in this work. Telling of five decades of construction at the Cape, Reynolds also delves into the specialized prelaunch routines and the work crews who carry them out. Accenting the prosaic over the glamorous, Reynolds paints an appealing portrait of the physical installations behind the drama of ignition and liftoff.--Gilbert Taylor"Booklist" (10/15/2006)