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Strange Angel
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The weird and wonderful life of John Whiteside Parsons - a pioneering rocket scientist who also delved into the occultBRILLIANT ROCKET SCIENTIST KILLED IN EXPLOSION screamed the front-page headline of the Los Angeles Times on 18 June 1952. John Parsons, a maverick rocketeer whose work had helped transform the rocket from a derided sci-fi plotline into a reality, was at first mourned as a tragically young victim of mishandled chemicals. But as reporters dug deeper a shocking story emerged. Parsons had been performing occult rites and summoning spirits as a follower of Alesteir Crowley.George Pendle tells Parsons' extraordinary life story for the first time. Fuelled from childhood by dreams of space flight, Parsons was a crucial innovator during rocketry's birth. But his visionary imagination also led him into the occult community thriving in 1930s Los Angeles, and when fantasy's pull became stronger than reality, he lost both his work and his wife. Parsons was just emerging from his personal underworld when he died - aged thirty-seven. In Strange Angel, Pendle recovers a fascinating life and explores the unruly consequences of genius.
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George Pendle is a highly promotable young journalist who writes for The Times, amongst others 'George Pendle's superbly detailed and addictively readable book makes the reader fall in love with these young men's energy and enthusiasm, and the blazing trail that Parsons left behind him as he finally fell to earth' DAILY TELEGRAPH 'A case of truth being stranger than fiction in all its glory...the whole mix is fascinating. Parsons' struggle to achieve a working rocket would make a good story in their own right, but add in the science fiction, add in the strange religion and characters like Hubbard - and finally, throw into the mix Parsons' horrendous death in an apparently accidental explosion at home...it's a cracker, that rarest of things a popular science book that's a page-turner too' Popular Science.co.uk 'George Pendle, with his graceful, measured prose, describes a handsome man of charm and intellect...The author skilfully steers us through the quagmire of Parson's personal life to place him on the pedestal that he deserves, so that we may admire his remarkable legacy to modern rocket science' OBSERVER 'Readable and engrossing' LITERARY REVIEW

About the Author

George Pendle writes about science for The Times and the Financial Times, among other publications. He lives in New York City.

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