Chasing the Moon: The People, the Politics, and the Promise That Launched America Into the Space Age
This companion to the six-hour American Experience documentary airing on PBS goes beyond the series to reveal the stories of the visionaries who helped America complete the 1961 vision of President John F. Kennedy, with the first lunar landing in 1969.
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Description of this Book
An iconic young president issued the historic moon landing challenge. These are the stories of the dreamers--based on newly discovered archival material--who helped America win the space race with the first lunar landing fifty years ago. In 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy ridiculed the idea of space travel as a colossal waste of money with no scientific importance. A year later the new president proposed the nation spend twenty billion dollars to land a man on the moon before the end of the decade. More than a story of engineers and astronauts, America's moon landing grew out of the dreams of a handful of people whose work led to the lunar landing. They include: * Science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, whose writing inspired some of the key players in the moon race. He also proposed an idea to the FCC that helped the U.S. beat Russia in one area of space: communications satellites. * Werner von Braun, the former Nazi military genius who oversaw Hitler's rocket weapons program. Recruited to work for NASA, he managed the creation of the Saturn V moon rocket. * Astronaut Frank Borman, whose powerful testimony before Congress in 1967 decisively saved the U.S. lunar program from being cut. * Poppy Northcutt, a young mathematician who was the first woman to work in Mission Control. Her appearance in popular ad campaigns allowed her the freedom to stand up for equal rights for women and minorities. * Edward Dwight, the single African-American Apollo astronaut candidate, wanted by the Kennedy White House to promote public support for Civil Rights legislation and to boost the image of America in the Third World. Famous for a brief time, he was then dropped from the program. Setting these key players in the political, social, and cultural climate of the time, Chasing the Moon tells a unique, multifaceted history through a combination of new eyewitness accounts and recently discovered archival material.
Awards, Reviews & Star Ratings
||Chasing the Moon is rich, lively, and deeply human--a thriller of its own to parallel PBS's American Experience series on the moon program. --Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning author of Energy: A Human History Designed to be a companion volume to a documentary film, Chasing the Moon is so informative and so entertaining that it can easily stand on its own as a popular history of the Space Race. Stone and Andres capture not only the Cold War rivalry and turmoil of the period, but its heady optimism. --Joseph Kanon, New York Times bestselling author of The Good German Chasing the Moon is not only the story of America's epic moon landing, but a brilliant, no-holds-barred investigation of the politics, technology, and ambitions behind it. --Edward Jay Epstein, author of How America Lost Its Secrets It was one of the most amazing achievements in human history. And now we have a book worthy of the grand endeavor. Chasing the Moon sweeps us along from the first dreams of rocketry to the famed Apollo program, and a grand epic of discovery it is, filled with drama and detail, peopled with characters who dream big and drive themselves to the outer limits of their endurance. It's a book that demonstrates the best of our twentieth-century selves, when passion and professionalism, both public and private, helped us to do the impossible. --William Martin, New York Times bestselling author of Cape Cod and Bound for Gold If you think you know all that is important about the Apollo moon landings, you would be wrong. In Chasing the Moon, Robert Stone and Alan Andres offer scintillating stories both great and small. From the first serious thinking about space futures at the beginning of the twentieth century to the reflections on the meaning of Apollo, Stone and Andres make a most welcome contribution to documenting the efforts to reach the Moon. --Roger D. Launius, former chief historian, NASA, and author of The Smithsonian History of Space Exploration
Robert Stone is an Oscar- and Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker. He and his work have been profiled in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Entertainment Weekly, among many other publications. Alan Andres spent three decades in trade book publishing and managed a small magazine enterprise. He served as a consulting producer and researcher on PBS's Chasing the Moon.