In the Shadow of the Moon: A Challenging Journey to Tranquility, 1965-1969.

Author:Weller, Grant T.
Position:Book review
 
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In the Shadow of the Moon: A Challenging Journey to Tranquility, 1965-1969. By Francis French and Colin Burgess. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007. Photographs. Bibliography. Pp. xix, 425. $29.95 ISBN: 0-8032-1128-5

This book, the second volume in the University of Nebraska Press' "Outward Odyssey: A People's History of Spaceflight" series, meets that series' intent. It is clearly written and priced for general rather than academic readers. Unusual for a book from an academic press, In the Shadow of the Moon includes neither notes nor an index, usual staples of scholarly writing. The authors are accomplished popular space writers, not university professors, and have several previous books on space history to their individual and joint credit including the first volume in the series, Into that Silent Sea: Trailblazers of the Space Era, 1961-1965.

This is also a "people's" history as it focuses almost exclusively on the human dimension of spaceflight. The stories of the Gemini and Apollo programs and their Soviet contemporaries Voshkod and Soyuz are told through the stories of the crewmembers and their experiences before, during, and after each mission. Each new astronaut or cosmonaut (not already profiled in Into that Silent Sea) receives a short biography beginning with his earliest dreams of flying or going into space and continuing through training to his mission(s). The accomplishments and failures of each mission receive thorough coverage in chronological order. There is far more about the politics of NASA's Astronaut Office and anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union, both of which impacted which spacefarers flew, and in what order, than there is about the role of the Space Race in the Cold War or the development of space hardware. It is tolling that the book contains twenty five photographs of astronauts and cosmonauts, with politicians and rockets only in the background, if at all visible.

French and Burgess emphasize the importance of the American Gemini program as a crucial...

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