Hot Best Seller

American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race

Availability: Ready to download

Instant New York Times Bestseller As the fiftieth anniversary of the first lunar landing approaches, the award winning historian and perennial New York Times bestselling author takes a fresh look at the space program, President John F. Kennedy’s inspiring challenge, and America’s race to the moon. “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy/>“We/>As Instant New York Times Bestseller As the fiftieth anniversary of the first lunar landing approaches, the award winning historian and perennial New York Times bestselling author takes a fresh look at the space program, President John F. Kennedy’s inspiring challenge, and America’s race to the moon. “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.”—President John F. Kennedy On May 25, 1961, JFK made an astonishing announcement: his goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade. In this engrossing, fast-paced epic, Douglas Brinkley returns to the 1960s to recreate one of the most exciting and ambitious achievements in the history of humankind. American Moonshot brings together the extraordinary political, cultural, and scientific factors that fueled the birth and development of NASA and the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo projects, which shot the United States to victory in the space race against the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. Drawing on new primary source material and major interviews with many of the surviving figures who were key to America’s success, Brinkley brings this fascinating history to life as never before. American Moonshot is a portrait of the brilliant men and women who made this giant leap possible, the technology that enabled us to propel men beyond earth’s orbit to the moon and return them safely, and the geopolitical tensions that spurred Kennedy to commit himself fully to this audacious dream. Brinkley’s ensemble cast of New Frontier characters include rocketeer Wernher von Braun, astronaut John Glenn and space booster Lyndon Johnson. A vivid and enthralling chronicle of one of the most thrilling, hopeful, and turbulent eras in the nation’s history, American Moonshot is an homage to scientific ingenuity, human curiosity, and the boundless American spirit.


Compare

Instant New York Times Bestseller As the fiftieth anniversary of the first lunar landing approaches, the award winning historian and perennial New York Times bestselling author takes a fresh look at the space program, President John F. Kennedy’s inspiring challenge, and America’s race to the moon. “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy/>“We/>As Instant New York Times Bestseller As the fiftieth anniversary of the first lunar landing approaches, the award winning historian and perennial New York Times bestselling author takes a fresh look at the space program, President John F. Kennedy’s inspiring challenge, and America’s race to the moon. “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.”—President John F. Kennedy On May 25, 1961, JFK made an astonishing announcement: his goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade. In this engrossing, fast-paced epic, Douglas Brinkley returns to the 1960s to recreate one of the most exciting and ambitious achievements in the history of humankind. American Moonshot brings together the extraordinary political, cultural, and scientific factors that fueled the birth and development of NASA and the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo projects, which shot the United States to victory in the space race against the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. Drawing on new primary source material and major interviews with many of the surviving figures who were key to America’s success, Brinkley brings this fascinating history to life as never before. American Moonshot is a portrait of the brilliant men and women who made this giant leap possible, the technology that enabled us to propel men beyond earth’s orbit to the moon and return them safely, and the geopolitical tensions that spurred Kennedy to commit himself fully to this audacious dream. Brinkley’s ensemble cast of New Frontier characters include rocketeer Wernher von Braun, astronaut John Glenn and space booster Lyndon Johnson. A vivid and enthralling chronicle of one of the most thrilling, hopeful, and turbulent eras in the nation’s history, American Moonshot is an homage to scientific ingenuity, human curiosity, and the boundless American spirit.

30 review for American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race

  1. 4 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    “We choose to go to the moon--we choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because the challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.” – JFK at Rice University- September 12, 1962. “The Eagle has landed.” – Neil Armstrong, July 20, 1969 “We choose to go to the moon--we choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because the challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.” – JFK at Rice University- September 12, 1962. “The Eagle has landed.” – Neil Armstrong, July 20, 1969 JFK delivering his “we choose to go to the moon” speech at Rice University – image from History Hub. Public Affairs Officer – Three minutes, 45 seconds and counting. In the final abort checks between several key members of the crew here in the control center and the astronauts, Launch Operations Manager Paul Donnelly wished the crew, on the launch teams' behalf, "Good luck and Godspeed." There have been many events in American history that can bring one to tears, decades later. There is no shortage of dark moments in our violent past, domestic and international. I was alive in 1963 when JFK was murdered, and when RFK and MLK were killed by sinister forces. Recalling those moments can bring tears of grief, a sense of a blow to us all, as well as a feeling of personal loss. 9/11 was a Pearl Harbor trauma for the 21st century. I choke up even thinking about it. But there have also been moments when threatened waterworks were of a very different sort. Moments of joy and pride, being at Woodstock, the 1969 and 1986 Mets, (OK, so maybe those two were not national events in the same way, fine) the election of Barack Obama and that day in July 1969 when a promise was kept, an ages-long dream was no longer deferred, and in the name of our global humanity, a human being first set foot on the moon. For me, in my lifetime, there has never been a prouder moment to be an American. Saturn C-1 - a predecessor to the Saturn V that would boost the Apollo missions - Image from This Day in Aviation Public Affairs Officer – Two minutes, 30 seconds and counting; we're still Go on Apollo 11 at this time. Douglas Brinkley has been charting the history of the United States since the 1990s. The guy has some range. He was a mentee of Stephen Ambrose, which should be recommendation enough. In addition, he was literary executor for Hunter S. Thompson, and was the authorized biographer for Jack Kerouac. He has been active in and has written about the environmental movement, and has been attacked by occasional Republicans, which usually means he is doing something right. Brinkley is CNN’s goto expert on things presidential, having written books about many of them. His focus here is on the brief, but impactful presidency of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and how he led the nation to the signal achievement of transporting a man to the moon and bringing him safely home. Douglas Brinkley - image from politicaldig.com Public Affairs Officer – We just passed the 2-minute mark in the countdown. Brinkley follows JFKs early life, from so-so student, enduring considerable medical miseries and enjoying a very active social life, both in two prep schools and then in two different colleges to someone with a keen interest in and talent for public policy. Of particular interest is the impact of seeing the face of fascism in 1932 when he toured Germany in a bit of a reconnoiter for his politically connected father, who would be appointed the US ambassador to the United Kingdom a few years later. Wernher von Braun - image from Space.com Public Affairs Officer – T minus 1 minute, 54 seconds and counting. Our status board indicates that the oxidizer tanks in the second and third stages now have pressurized. We continue to build up pressure in all three stages here at the last minute to prepare it for lift-off For much of the book, Brinkley parallels JFK’s rise with the career of Wernher von Braun, the German rocket expert who had overseen the development of the V-1 and V-2 rockets that Hitler used in attacking England. Von Braun is a fascinating character, however much his Hitlerian expedience marked him as a war criminal. Thousands of slave laborers perished in the Peenemünde rocket development site that he ran. He had dreamed of making space flight a reality ever since he was a child, and was willing to do whatever it took to move this goal forward. Post World War II, with the USA and the Soviet Union gearing up for the possible next great war, von Braun’s expertise was in high demand. He found his way to American forces in Germany, bringing with him a considerable supply of materials and research. Under a program called Operation Paperclip von Braun, and many other technically expert Germans, were brought to the United States to aid in the impending showdown with the Soviet Union. You will appreciate Tom Lehrer’s parodic ditty about him. Apollo 11 en route to Launch Pad 39A - image from NASA Public Affairs Officer – One minute, 25 seconds and counting. Our status board indicates the third stage completely pressurized. Von Braun was, and remained a key player in the USA’s space program, being the force behind the development of the huge Saturn-V launch vehicle that sent most of the Apollo missions on their way. He remained a subject of considerable controversy, which he parried by becoming as American an immigrant as he possibly could. He had a gift for public relations, which led to a TV show promoting space travel, and a consultancy with Walt Disney to help design Tomorrowland at Disney’s new theme park. His articles appeared in many national magazines, which helped keep the space program in the national consciousness, a beautiful thing for those who supported American space efforts. It also made him a powerful friend in the new president. The two men were more than just convenient allies. Apollo 11 at Launch Pad 39A - image from NASA Public Affairs Officer – We're approaching the 60-second mark on the Apollo 11 mission. We get a good overview of JFKs career, his heroism in the Pacific, and the subsequent fame he received for his PT-109 adventure, after a book written about the episode became a national best-seller, with help from his father. On domestic policy he was certainly of a liberal bent, but his foreign policy placed him much more in a conservative posture. He had seen what authoritarianism looked like and was eager to challenge it wherever possible, seeing the Soviet Union as the major authoritarian threat in the world. The crew heads to Launch Pad 39A - image from NASA Public Affairs Officer – 55 seconds and counting. Neil Armstrong just reported back: "It's been a real smooth countdown". Brinkley catches us up on the progress, or lack of same, in the USA’s space program in the 1950s, as it was fraught with military branch in-fighting and was short on successes. But the launch of Sputnik was the wakeup call it took to refocus American interest in space. There remained naysayers, and many who believed that resources targeted to space exploration and development would have been better spent on more earthbound pursuits. But there was a growing sense that the country needed to make some serious headway in the exploration of space, lest the country be left in the dust by the Soviet advances, with repercussions that were not only military, but political and economic as well. Spacecraft communicators in mission control - image from NASA Public Affairs Officer – We've passed the 50-second mark. Power transfer is complete - we're on internal power with the launch vehicle at this time. What Brinkley captures here is Kennedy’s view of the whole enterprise as a main act in the Cold War, the peaceable competition of the Western states, led by the USA, with the Eastern bloc, led by the Soviet Union. The East and West were not only doing kinetic battle in proxy wars like Vietnam, but struggling to win hearts and minds across the planet. Kennedy saw that US success in the space race would elevate the status of the West, leading many to tilt West instead of East when looking for alliances. He also emphasizes that Kennedy saw the space effort as a form of Keynesian economy-boosting similar to the infrastructure development of the FDR era. Kennedy was also quite aware of the likelihood that the research undertaken in this project would leapfrog the USA ahead in technological development, with impact in fields across the economy. Brinkley offers an impressive list of some of the developments that were created or boosted by the space program. Apollo 11 at ignition - image from NASA Public Affairs Officer – 40 seconds away from the Apollo 11 lift-off. All the second stage tanks now pressurized. 35 seconds and counting. Just as Trump is a clear master of the new tech of Twitter, JFK was an early master of the PR potential of television, holding press conferences every sixteen days to make sure the messages his administration wanted in the public eye remained there. The focus on locating much of the NASA program in southern states was his version of a Southern Strategy, looking to build support for himself and Democrats by channeling federal investment where it was likely to do the most political good. But also, the nation was emerging from a recession, and a big public works project, like Eisenhauer’s national highway program, would pump enough money into the sluggish economy to get it moving again. It succeeded wildly in that. Launches - image from NASA Public Affairs Officer – We are still Go with Apollo 11. 30 seconds and counting. Astronauts report, "It feels good". T minus 25 seconds. One thing that the book makes eminently clear was that Vice President Johnson was not only all in on supporting the Apollo program, he in fact was much more knowledgeable about the realities of space exploration challenges than JFK ever was. In addition, while Kennedy, privately, was more concerned with the potential military advantages of the space program, Johnson was more firmly in the peaceful-uses camp. Liftoff - image from NASA Public Affairs Officer – LIFT-OFF! We have a lift-off, 32 minutes past the hour. Lift-off on Apollo 11. One of the great joys of reading a well-researched work of history is the opportunity to pick up some nuggets of odd intel here and there. For example, where the term “moonshot” originated, JFKs fondness for Joe McCarthy, the existence of a program that you probably never heard of that preceded and spurred US manned space flight, who was really the first man to orbit the earth, and a new update on the first words from the Moon. Apollo 11 clears the tower - image from NASA Public Affairs Officer – Tower cleared The 1960s was certainly a very exciting time in the USA. There was a lot going on, not all of it wonderful, but there was a drive to move beyond, to move forward, to fulfill not only the dream of our fallen leader but a dream that had been shared by humanity for as long as people had looked up and wondered about that thing in the sky. Douglas Brinkley has given us an insightful and informative look into the nuts and bolts of how Apollo 11 came to be, into some of the geopolitical forces of the Cold War, into the domestic political battles that were being engaged, into the economic considerations that fed JFKs need to push forward, and into the personalities that proclaimed the mission as achievable and then used all their powers to drive the mission forward to a glorious fulfillment. He shows the impact of the program on our relationship with the Soviet Union, and the impact the program had on our economy. In doing this, he has captured the feel of the time, the excitement about, as well as fear for, the manned space missions, and ultimately the joy in seeing the dream realized. He has given us a sense of who the people involved really were, and what drove them. It is a very readable history, and for someone who has been a lifelong fan of space exploration, it is no exaggeration to say that American Moonshot is out of this world. Apollo 11 at about 4,000 feet - image from NASA Review posted – April 26, 2019 Publication date – April 2, 2019 Lunar Module at Tranquility Bay – image from NASA =============================EXTRA STUFF Brinkley’s personal site He has a twitter page, but it has not been updated since 2013. I found no personal Facebook page for him. Brinkley non-book writings and/or appearances (partial) -----CNN -----Vanity Fair -----NY Times -----RollingStone -----Foreign Policy Interviews -----The Reading Life with Douglas Brinkley with Susan Larson – audio – 28:56 Really, this one should do Items of Interest -----Operation Paperclip -----Peenemünde -----V-1 flying bomb -----V-2 Rocket -----A 1955 video in which von Braun describes his plan for not only a manned moon mission, but a permanent space station -----The NASA log of the Apollo 11 flight from which I extracted the “Public Affairs Officer” announcements included in the review -----JFK’s We choose to go to the moon speech at Rice University – Video – 18:15 -----A transcript of that speech -----C-SPAN – a nice documentary on the 25th anniversary of Apollo 11 mission -----Smithsonian Magazine - June 2019 - What You Didn’t Know About the Apollo 11 Mission - by Charles Fishman - excellent, informative article. Worth a look. -----New York Times - June 14, 2019 - Fifty Years Ago We Landed on the Moon. Why Should We Care Now? By Jill Lepore - interesting look at the extant rash of Apollo 11 anniversary books and sociopolitical implications Music -----Space Oddity -----Telestar - by The Tornadoes

  2. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    With the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing only a few days away, Douglas Brinkley’s latest book surrounding the early years of space exploration, seemed the perfect fit. Told as a loose biography of the race to get into space, Brinkley explores the two main camps vying for control of the territory outside of Earth’s atmosphere—USA and USSR—as well as bringing in the promise President John F. Kennedy made about sending a man to the moon by the end of the 1960s. Brinkley begins his na With the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing only a few days away, Douglas Brinkley’s latest book surrounding the early years of space exploration, seemed the perfect fit. Told as a loose biography of the race to get into space, Brinkley explores the two main camps vying for control of the territory outside of Earth’s atmosphere—USA and USSR—as well as bringing in the promise President John F. Kennedy made about sending a man to the moon by the end of the 1960s. Brinkley begins his narrative by examining the mystery of space, at least as seen through the eyes of those positing about missions into the atmosphere. Writers have long created stories about inter-planetary adventures and trips to the Moon, even before they was a means to get off the ground. As Brinkley discusses, this science fiction soon turned into a spark that began a race to use the skies as a means of transportation at high rates of speed. The Nazis capitalised on this, though both superpowers poached their rocket scientists at the end of the War to begin creating their own rocket weapons and early prototypes of space vehicles. The Soviets pushed full speed ahead, while America lagged behind with President Dwight Eisenhower less than keen on the space race. Enter John Kennedy, a young congressman from Massachusetts, who sought to harness this race as being of utmost importance to the American psyche and as a key element of the Cold War. Brinkley uses the middle portion of his book to really explore the Space Race and how the Soviets sent so much time focussing their attention on outmanoeuvring the Americans. It was truly a Cold War battle, but one in which the Americans were not—surprisingly—invested. One can speculate that America had domestic issues that needed solving, while the Soviet state suspended everything to ensure a cosmonaut made world headlines. There is an interesting undertone throughout this portion of the book, one that argues that Eisenhower was less than interest in seeing man enter space or land on the Moon. It was the Kennedy push, with Lyndon Johnson working his magic on the Senate floor, who pushed for the American Space Program. Brinkley thoroughly explores the early talk of rockets and the Space Program, strongly supported by Kennedy and Johnson, while Eisenhower continued to fumble and remained in constant catch-up mode. Seeing the price tag as being unrealistic or unfeasible, Eisenhower acted only to ensure the egg left on America’s collective face did not solidify. Kennedy’s eventual win in the 1960 Presidential election paved the way for a new era in space, one in which Kennedy vowed to push America ahead and land a man on the Moon by the end of the decade. Brinkley proves repeatedly how the contrasting US Administrations tackled space in different ways. Under Kennedy, space was finally of the utmost concern, even if it was still a lukewarm idea to many who saw the expense as being too high. Kennedy pushed forward with missions orbiting above the Earth and locked in a location for many of the future launches into space. Kennedy was convinced that the Americans could land a man on the Moon and do so before the Soviets, though it would take innovation and excellence, something the president felt the country had in large quantities. During his brief time in office, Kennedy watched as the US Space Program came to life and the world could see its progress on television. More familiar names, such as Glenn, Shephard, and Armstrong, pepper the narrative and show how incremental successes helped Kennedy disprove his detractors. Armed with ongoing Cold War issues, Kennedy worked to keep the Space Race going, even as Khrushchev sought to tighten his grip in Europe with the Berlin Wall and pushed the Soviet Space Program to take risks to keep pace. During his short time in office, JFK showed the world just how dedicated he was to his pledge, which miraculously continued on after an assassin’s bullet ended the life of the 35th President of the United States. Kennedy’s footprint remains permanently etched on the American Space Program, with his insights leading to the eventual Apollo 11 Moon Landing, whose anniversary reminds the world of the important innovation made when humans eventually made their way onto the Moon’s surface. While I am no expert on things related to space, my interest in history fuelled my desire to give this piece a try. Brinkley does a masterful job of creating an intriguing narrative about the Space Race and how it became one plank of the ongoing battle throughout the Cold War. More than that, Brinkley effectively argues that an obsession with getting into space far surpassed when he became feasible, citing numerous books and articles on the subject. His pinning the development of space exploration on the keenness of JFK’s life-long curiosity proved a secondary biography of sorts that will appeal to those who have an interest in all things Kennedy. Brinkley has been able to create a seamless narrative discussing the enormous world of space progress and its science into something that can be easily comprehended by the layperson. Using a number of key characters in both American and Soviet space camps, the story takes on a new light as the race to land on the Moon heated up throughout the 1960s. With political vilification of the US-USSR politicians, as well as in-fighting within America, Brinkley shows just how controversial and divisive this venture would be, as well as the astronomical amounts spent to see Neil Armstrong make that prolific walk outside of Apollo 11 in July 1969. With detailed chapters full of information and told in a well-paced narrative, Brinkley brings space development to life throughout and paves the way for the event 50 years ago that many who were alive can remember with great detail. It was surely one of the great feats humans have undertaken in their constant march towards technological mastery, though Brinkley asserts that the exploration should never stop, even if they race to do so is no longer as fervent. Kudos, Mr. Brinkley, for telling this wonderful tale and bringing history to life yet again. I have enjoyed both books of yours that I have read and will have to try more, when time permits. Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/ A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeff J.

    Not exactly what I expected. It’s marketed as a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, and while it does cover the space program up to the moon landing, the real focus is on President Kennedy’s career and his contributions to the space program. It may not be false advertising but be wary.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Peter Mcloughlin

    covers the history of the space program from earliest imaginings of Jules Verne in 1863 through the rocketry of Robert Goddard in the 1920s, Werner Von Braun and the Nazi V-2 during the second world war, and a big focus on the cold war especially the JFK and his role in the moonshot and covers the story up to the 1969 moon landing. Good political history which is its focus rather than the science of the moonshot. Good to know how cold warriors got Apollo off the ground.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Terrific book. Brinkley is a wonderful writer. I read his book about Theodore Roosevelt and all he did to preserve significant sections of our country as National Parks and wildlife habitats. This book follows the develop of the space program. Having been a JFK fan, for many years this books’ pairing of the race to the moon with JFK’s excitement and support of the space program allowed me too see another side of this remarkable man. Very well documented and a wonderful read in this 50 year anniv Terrific book. Brinkley is a wonderful writer. I read his book about Theodore Roosevelt and all he did to preserve significant sections of our country as National Parks and wildlife habitats. This book follows the develop of the space program. Having been a JFK fan, for many years this books’ pairing of the race to the moon with JFK’s excitement and support of the space program allowed me too see another side of this remarkable man. Very well documented and a wonderful read in this 50 year anniversary of men walking on the moon.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Porter Broyles

    I don’t know if the Pulitzer Prize committee is going to feel sentimental about the 50th anniversary of the moonlanding, but if it does, then I would not be surprised if this book wins it. This is by far the best book about the space race that I’ve encountered. While other books focus on the astronauts and the space program, this book deals with American culture and politics that drove the space race. The book starts off talking about the earliest days of flight I don’t know if the Pulitzer Prize committee is going to feel sentimental about the 50th anniversary of the moonlanding, but if it does, then I would not be surprised if this book wins it. This is by far the best book about the space race that I’ve encountered. While other books focus on the astronauts and the space program, this book deals with American culture and politics that drove the space race. The book starts off talking about the earliest days of flight and rocket science, but unlike other books dealing with the space race, this one delves into the cultural conceptions of space. It talks about how characters such as Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, and those cheesy movies from the first half the 20th century shaped America’s passion for space. It then delves into the research of the German’s and weaponization of the rocket science during WWII. During the war, the German scientist negotiated with the Americans and avoided being tried as War Criminals in exchange for helping America’s rocket program. After the war, they helped America, but when Eisenhower was elected president, funding came to a virtual halt. Ike never fully trusted the scientist of the country he fought. While Eisenhower was lauded for many things, during his presidency the Russians achieved numerous symbolic victories---the first space launch, the first animal in space, the first man in space, etc. While other books mention these events and how state that they fueled America, this book shows you how and why it fueled America. It also talks about how Democratic candidates (namely Kennedy and Johnson) saw these events as a path to the presidency. Both men embraced the space race seeing it as a means to attack a popular presidency. Johnson made a great quote about how the Romans dominated the world because they ruled the roads, the British dominated the world because they ruled the seas, America dominated the world because it owned the air, but that the Russians were situated to dominate the world because the US was not going to challenge the them in ruling space. Kennedy, despite being briefed by the FBI to the contrary, made allegations that there was a missile gap with Russia. Eisenhower and Nixon could not refute Kennedy’s claims without revealing their sources. (This isn’t the only place wherein Kennedy misrepresented the Eisenhower/Nixon presidency knowing that they could not respond without violating America’s intelligence network.) After being elected, Kennedy/Johnson pushed the space program. Kennedy’s challenge to place a man on the moon was a big gamble. Brinkley discusses the political realities’ of making the moonshot a reality. While we often think of the period as a great unification/push for the moon, it was a politically divided issue. The moonshot was criticized because others argued the money would have been better spent fighting poverty, curing cancer, dealing with civil rights, etc. One of the interesting conclusions of the book is that without the Kennedy assassination, America might not have made it to the moon and if we did it might not have occurred within his stated goal. While it is not my pick for Pulitzer, it would not surprise me if it wins. It is about an important subject to America, during the 50th anniversary of a pivotal event, very well written, from a different point of view for the subject, by a respected author.

  7. 5 out of 5

    KC

    On July 20 1969, the country and the world watched as Astronaut Neil Armstrong walked on the moon's surface. Nearing the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing, David Brinkley's latest novel reminds us of President John F. Kennedy's tireless and dedicated work towards space exploration and travel. This novel encourages us to forever look upward; to gaze deeper and further and especially into the great beyond.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sherry Sharpnack

    Douglas Brinkley is an historian at Rice University and a pre-eminent scholar of US Presidents. This is the first book of his that I have read, but it won’t be the last. (In fact, I have his “Cronkite” sitting in my bookcase, waiting to be read.). Of course, I read this book to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing. “Moonshot” is less a book about the history of space exploration and more a book about John F. Kennedy’s decision to make the “race to the moon” a proxy f Douglas Brinkley is an historian at Rice University and a pre-eminent scholar of US Presidents. This is the first book of his that I have read, but it won’t be the last. (In fact, I have his “Cronkite” sitting in my bookcase, waiting to be read.). Of course, I read this book to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing. “Moonshot” is less a book about the history of space exploration and more a book about John F. Kennedy’s decision to make the “race to the moon” a proxy for the Cold War with the Soviet Union, and a boon to U.S. technological leadership after WWII. The book begins as a biography of JFK and Werner von Braun, the German rocketeer behind building the V-1 and V-2 rockets that devastated so much of England during the War. Brinkley makes no bones about the fact that von Braun was complicit w/ the Nazis by utilizing the slave labor in these rocket programs. We see JFK turn into a deft politician and become more and more enamored w/ space for itself. He was like a little kid around the rockets and the astronauts! Of course, everyone around the space program was nervous about their funding when Kennedy was assassinated, but Johnson was equally determined that the U.S. be the first country to the moon, accomplished on July 20, 1969—an event I will always remember personally. Let this wonderful quote represent an excellent book: “We choose to go to the moon—we choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we which we intend to win.” JFK, Sept. 12, 1962, speech at Rice University. (pp 363-364)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    The fiftieth anniversary of the first lunar landing inspires the acclaimed historian to take a fresh look at the American space program, at President John Kennedy’s inspiring challenge, and at the race to the moon. Drawing on new primary source material, Douglas Brinkley brings this fascinating history to life as he turns the spotlight on the men and women who made this giant leap possible while exploring the technology and the political tensions of the time. Readers will find much to The fiftieth anniversary of the first lunar landing inspires the acclaimed historian to take a fresh look at the American space program, at President John Kennedy’s inspiring challenge, and at the race to the moon. Drawing on new primary source material, Douglas Brinkley brings this fascinating history to life as he turns the spotlight on the men and women who made this giant leap possible while exploring the technology and the political tensions of the time. Readers will find much to appreciate in this living history that chronicles one of our nation’s most thrilling events as it pays homage to the scientists and engineers whose magnificent efforts embody the curiosity and spirit of America. Highly recommended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Brian Willis

    A truly great overview of the technological advances and political willpower needed to put Americans on the moon. The second half of the title is the most relevant. This is a Presidential biography of JFK filtered through the motivations and personality traits that led him to call for, motivate, push, cajole, and even cheerlead the Space Race. As it turns out, JFK was more indispensable than previously thought. It wasn't just the famous speeches; the willpower and enthusiasm emanating mainly fro A truly great overview of the technological advances and political willpower needed to put Americans on the moon. The second half of the title is the most relevant. This is a Presidential biography of JFK filtered through the motivations and personality traits that led him to call for, motivate, push, cajole, and even cheerlead the Space Race. As it turns out, JFK was more indispensable than previously thought. It wasn't just the famous speeches; the willpower and enthusiasm emanating mainly from the President overcame deep opposition to funding and vision. The United States, in the 1960s, devoted 5% of the entire budget to NASA! That would be inconceivable at almost any other time. In addition to the story of Kennedy, Werner Van Braun and the technologies of World War II that transferred to NASA are also covered, and a great deal of the book does go into the depth of the technology and science. Brinkley also covers all of the incredible innovations that still are with us today. The book goes into "Epilogue" mode after JFK's assassination, leaving Gemini and Apollo as the culmination of JFK's dream, the major technological advances having been completed by the time of his death. Handsomely illustrated with high quality photos (both black and white and great color inserts in the middle), this is a book for those who want to read about the foundation of NASA, the technology behind the Mercury program and the space race in the 50s, as well as how JFK kept pushing all of the bureaucracy and institutions to pursue his and Van Braun's dream: to get there before the Soviets, to produce positive benefits for all mankind (lots of evidence here to support that), and finally how NASA prepared for Apollo. The landing itself is well documented; this is an accessible book on the lead up to that as well as JFK's part in it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tori

    This really was a fascinating story. And very easy reading - almost like a work of fiction. Even though I lived through these events, this book made me appreciate all the work that went on to land a man on the moon. I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed that the book as more about Kennedy than I had anticipated - but on further consideration, I appreciate all that I learned about him, too. And even though the book kind of zooms over the actual moon landing, because it occurred after JFK's as This really was a fascinating story. And very easy reading - almost like a work of fiction. Even though I lived through these events, this book made me appreciate all the work that went on to land a man on the moon. I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed that the book as more about Kennedy than I had anticipated - but on further consideration, I appreciate all that I learned about him, too. And even though the book kind of zooms over the actual moon landing, because it occurred after JFK's assassination, it was a very good synopsis of events. I highlighted many passages to remind myself of the inspiring ideas shared. From Amelia Earhart: "The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity." From JFK: "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is the one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win." From Brinkley: "Throughout the United States there is a hunger today for another 'moonshot,' some shared national endeavor that will transcend partisan politics." From Brinkley: "Artists are often decades ahead of engineers and scientists in imagining the future." It was interesting to learn of Werner von Braun - who participated in Germany's weapon development during the war, but who was "snatched" for the US afterwards, to help with their space program, without being tried for war crimes. Also, interesting to think about the pros and cons of the space program. The cost was astronomical. The goal united various factions, but arguments were made about the good that could have been done in the country instead. I have so many other highlights - too much to include. But I did really enjoy this presidential biography that was so interrelated with the space race.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    I timed my reading of this book to complete it on July 20, the anniversary of the moon landing. I learned a lot about the Mercury program, a bit less about the Gemini program and coverage of the Apollo missions was incredibly brief, so that was disappointing. But the book is about Kennedy and the Space Race and it does cover Kennedy (and Von Braun) in depth. I was raised in a pro-Kennedy family so I loved the positive points made about him, but I did feel the coverage was incredibly one-sided. S I timed my reading of this book to complete it on July 20, the anniversary of the moon landing. I learned a lot about the Mercury program, a bit less about the Gemini program and coverage of the Apollo missions was incredibly brief, so that was disappointing. But the book is about Kennedy and the Space Race and it does cover Kennedy (and Von Braun) in depth. I was raised in a pro-Kennedy family so I loved the positive points made about him, but I did feel the coverage was incredibly one-sided. Still, I learned a lot. Happy Anniversary Apollo 11!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ted Hunt

    As part of the 50th anniversary commemoration of the July, 1969, touchdown on the moon, Douglas Brinkley has written a book about the origins and early stages of the American space program. The book begins with the earliest research and inventions in rocket technology, both inside the United States and in Europe, it extensively delves into the Nazi rocket program, and then describes the origins of the Cold War "space race" between the United States and the Soviet Union. As someone who was obsess As part of the 50th anniversary commemoration of the July, 1969, touchdown on the moon, Douglas Brinkley has written a book about the origins and early stages of the American space program. The book begins with the earliest research and inventions in rocket technology, both inside the United States and in Europe, it extensively delves into the Nazi rocket program, and then describes the origins of the Cold War "space race" between the United States and the Soviet Union. As someone who was obsessed as a child with all of the intricacies of the American lunar program, it was a bit of a letdown when the book pretty much wraps up with Kennedy's death, but its purpose was to tell the story of Kennedy, not Johnson and Nixon (who refused to mention Kennedy's name during the week of the first moon landing- what a small, petty man he was!). I was very pleased that the author went as far as to label Werner von Braun as the Nazi war criminal that he was, and it was interesting to hear about the work by American intelligence to attempt to determine whether or not the USSR was intending to make a moon landing or were just goading us into spending a lot of money of trying to win a race that they had withdrawn from. (In the end, the Soviets maintained the goal of a moon landing until the epic disaster on a launch pad in 1967.) I also appreciated reading about the civilian uses of NASA research, something JFK always maintained would help to justify the huge cost of the program. (MRI technology began as a method to photograph the moon? Who knew?) My only complaint was that I thought that the book spent too much time at the beginning presenting Kennedy's biography, which I did not find either new or particularly enlightening when it came to explaining his interest in the space program. In any event, perhaps Douglas Brinkley, teaching at Rice, will use his proximity to the center of the American space program in Houston to write a sequel. Fingers crossed!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    For what it is, this is a wonderful book. However, adjustment of expectation may be warranted. This book covers the early days of the space program in the context of U.S. and the world geo-political / Cold War landscape. It tracks technology advancements and political circumstances that led to the space race culminating on the moon landings. There are many books that focus solely on the astronauts, controllers and engineers and never venture out from the labs, sims, and space craft of the U.S. / For what it is, this is a wonderful book. However, adjustment of expectation may be warranted. This book covers the early days of the space program in the context of U.S. and the world geo-political / Cold War landscape. It tracks technology advancements and political circumstances that led to the space race culminating on the moon landings. There are many books that focus solely on the astronauts, controllers and engineers and never venture out from the labs, sims, and space craft of the U.S. / NASA space program. I initially thought I would not enjoy this book because of it scope, and suspect that may be causing some of the lower reviews, but I learned so much and was impressed by the author's research, clarity and narrative delivery depicting the Geo-political world of the 50s and 60s and providing such insight into the Eisenhower and Kennedy presidencies framed against the back drop off space exploration. Highly recommended.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sandi

    Great read I was,so always excited by this American space program wish it was still going

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Jesse

    A couple of thoughts about this book... 1: How come we haven't been back to the moon? Reading this book made me wonder about how we invented all this amazing technology to get us there. And yet here it is 45+ years since we last step foot on the moon. Imagine how much better the trip could be now with all the improved technology we have. I cant believe we haven't been back. 2. I learned a lot about the space race and the race to put somoene on the moon. I didn't know the on A couple of thoughts about this book... 1: How come we haven't been back to the moon? Reading this book made me wonder about how we invented all this amazing technology to get us there. And yet here it is 45+ years since we last step foot on the moon. Imagine how much better the trip could be now with all the improved technology we have. I cant believe we haven't been back. 2. I learned a lot about the space race and the race to put somoene on the moon. I didn't know the only thing we beat the Russians to was landing on the moon. First person in space (Russian), First Satellite in Space (Russian), 1st Female in Space (Russian), longest orbit around the Earth (Russian). And yet we got to the moon 1st. Everything else was "won" by the Russians. 3. The ending of the book was short, way, way too short. Here's all this in-depth stuff about the lead up to the moon and then the actual Apollo 11 portion was the "epilogue." The author focused on the Gemini and Mercury Missions, but the Apollo missions were basically a footnote. And the actual Apollo 11 trip description was way short. I spent 13425135151261615 pages about the moon landing only to be short-changed by the actual moon landing mission. This really upset me and drove the ranking of the book down. I think the author either gave up after Kennedy was shot, or only researched the Kennedy presidency and then gave up with the rest. Read the book knowing you don't get much coverage of the actual moon landing

  17. 4 out of 5

    Steve Majerus-Collins

    Douglas Brinkley's new book on the space race is a decent read but nowhere near as wonderful as I both hoped and expected. I'm no expert on any of this, but I learned precious little and came away strangely unfulfilled, as if Brinkley had promised to show me something about my country and its history that would enlighten or astound me. That just didn't happen. I've read some pretty good books on the race to the moon, from Tom Wolfe's sterling The Right Stuff to Norman Mailer's Of a Fire on Douglas Brinkley's new book on the space race is a decent read but nowhere near as wonderful as I both hoped and expected. I'm no expert on any of this, but I learned precious little and came away strangely unfulfilled, as if Brinkley had promised to show me something about my country and its history that would enlighten or astound me. That just didn't happen. I've read some pretty good books on the race to the moon, from Tom Wolfe's sterling The Right Stuff to Norman Mailer's Of a Fire on the Moon, both providing glimpses of what it all meant. Brinkley settles for a fairly thin account of how it happened but the why isn't really there, just some obvious Cold War competition. It's deeper than that, though, because there is no way to tell story of man walking on the moon without delving further. We did this astonishing thing. Seventeen Americans walked on the lunar surface, all of them now dead or aged. It's been almost half a century since the last mission. Where are our rocket cars, our spaceships to Mars, our chance to vacation in orbit? I'm a space age kid. I want more now. Anyway, this isn't a bad book for someone looking to get their bearings and to understand something of what happened. Eventually, though, someone's going to write something immortal about that time, that place and those people because, let's face it, none of it will ever be erased from human memory.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    Great Account Of President Kennedy and The Space Race This is my favorite account of the Space Race and President JFK 's involvement in it. As a representative and senator, Kennedy always decried Eisenhower's lack of interest in rockets and space travel. He befriended a former Nazi rocket scientist who became important in the building of our rocket science. Kennedy was right in trusting him and the American success was due to that trust. The Kennedy focus on how he treated the rocket program Great Account Of President Kennedy and The Space Race This is my favorite account of the Space Race and President JFK 's involvement in it. As a representative and senator, Kennedy always decried Eisenhower's lack of interest in rockets and space travel. He befriended a former Nazi rocket scientist who became important in the building of our rocket science. Kennedy was right in trusting him and the American success was due to that trust. The Kennedy focus on how he treated the rocket program and the Space Race is truly impressive.

  19. 5 out of 5

    David

    Great book about the Apollo project using JFK’s biography as the centerpiece. The book is a wonderful antidote to today’s cynicism and divisiveness. The book also reminds us of JFK’s leadership, enthusiasm, accomplishments and failures (professional and personal). We live in a world rich with technologies created to land a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth. The book ends with a beautiful scene: not long after Apollo 11 landed someone placed a note on JFK’s grave which read “Mr. Pres Great book about the Apollo project using JFK’s biography as the centerpiece. The book is a wonderful antidote to today’s cynicism and divisiveness. The book also reminds us of JFK’s leadership, enthusiasm, accomplishments and failures (professional and personal). We live in a world rich with technologies created to land a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth. The book ends with a beautiful scene: not long after Apollo 11 landed someone placed a note on JFK’s grave which read “Mr. President, the Eagle has landed.” Time to rev up the space exploration machine!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Maree

    Long read, but rewarding. A great interplay of the various aspects at play in the moonshot, and how they all caused the stars to align for the US to make it to the moon. It very much stresses the political and world stage rather than the technology needed to get there, which is an interesting take. The public's imagination was grabbed and kept by astronauts and the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. So many similarities are happening now with the discussion of Mars exploration that it really m Long read, but rewarding. A great interplay of the various aspects at play in the moonshot, and how they all caused the stars to align for the US to make it to the moon. It very much stresses the political and world stage rather than the technology needed to get there, which is an interesting take. The public's imagination was grabbed and kept by astronauts and the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. So many similarities are happening now with the discussion of Mars exploration that it really makes me wonder.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Robert Foley

    Since I was a kid I've had an odd passion for JFK and Space. When a book came out which combined the two and went over the history it was fantastic. I've read a lot about the two different subjects and found this book gave a lot more context on mix between the two. Overall, very very good book if this is a subject which you enjoy. Favorite part was JFK starting to fall in love with the idea of the space race and moon shot. He had a clear vision of what it would mean for not only USA and it's own Since I was a kid I've had an odd passion for JFK and Space. When a book came out which combined the two and went over the history it was fantastic. I've read a lot about the two different subjects and found this book gave a lot more context on mix between the two. Overall, very very good book if this is a subject which you enjoy. Favorite part was JFK starting to fall in love with the idea of the space race and moon shot. He had a clear vision of what it would mean for not only USA and it's own economics but human kind in general.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    This was really excellent. It’s not a thorough bio of Kennedy, just a look at him in relation to the space program. The other major players (von Braun, the astronauts, LBJ, Jackie, etc) appear mostly in the context of JFK/space tech development with only brief backstories (except von Braun’s Nazi work). It’s a very engaging, well-paced audiobook. 4.5 stars.

  23. 5 out of 5

    ZSR Library

    The footprints are still on the moon half a century since Neil Armstrong stepped from the lunar landing vehicle and Walter Cronkite on CBS gasped “man on the moon”. The wonder, people, politics and earthshaking awe of the improbable quest are expertly described in this new study rich in revelation. - Reviewed by John Cooper, ZSR Board of Visitors

  24. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    I expected this book to be solely about Apollo 11 with little about how it came to be. I was pleasantly surprised by the detailed timeline of the space program as well as the politics behind the space race. Above all, it gives credit where credit is due to JFK, the scientists, engineers, and astronauts who made the moon landing possible.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mwalizadeh

    Solid read about President Kennedy and the moonshot. But I was disappointed to not get more about all the efforts towards the actual moonwalk after his assassination. The first couple of chapters has so much detail about rocket missile technology during World War II (too much detail). So it was kind of a letdown that only the Epilogue covers everything from his passing to 1969.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Frank

    I listened to this on hoopla thanks to my local library. Excellent research and thoughtful writing. For a science book it sure had a wonderful human touch. The narration was also well done. I loved how the author wrapped things up in the epilogue.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Paul Elliott

    Interesting historical overview of the build-up to the first moon landing. I found the political background fascinating (how Kennedy used the space race to win an election), as well as the role of German-born scientists in the American space program.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    Over all, too long. and although the errors felt minor in the grand schemem of things, it felt ruched to publication. I do not regret reading it, just feel it could have been better

  29. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    Excellent overview of NASA's early years and Kennedy's involvement.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Christian Neff

    A highly enjoyable read, telling the story and Kennedy and NASA within the broader context of the time period. Digressions from the main topic are interestingly explored without going too far away from the story. Also, Brinkley is able to reflect with modern sensitivities on topics like discrimination, Operation Paperclip, etc.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.