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Red Moon Rising: Sputnik and the Hidden…
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Red Moon Rising: Sputnik and the Hidden Rivalries that Ignited the Space… (2007)

by Matthew Brzezinski

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The "space race" was actually a byproduct of the "arms race" between the USA and USSR and had it's beginnings in Nazi Germany. In September 1944, Hitler's army began launching V-2 rockets, the world's first ballistic missiles, against Britain. And when the war ended the Americans and Soviets quickly spirited away any bit of this new technology they could find, including the scientists and engineers who had developed it.

But while America subsequently pursued a strategy of long-range bombers to deliver nuclear weapons, the USSR began a missile program which couldn't be defended against like a squadron of flying planes could be. The genius behind their program was a Soviet engineer named Sergey Korolev (or Korolyov) but known outside a very small circle only as the "Chief Designer." After getting rockets to work he convinced Nikita Khruschev to pursue the launch of the world's first artificial satellite, and on October 4, 1957 Sputnik was launched. But while most leaders in both countries dismissed it as a ridiculous waste of resources, the public was fascinated and terrified by this newly demonstrated capability of the Russians. It quickly turned into a public relations coup.

But this isn't just a history of the beginnings of the space program. Matthew Brzezinski delves heavily into the internal politics of both the Soviet Union and the United States, and that is perhaps the strongest part of the book. From Khruschev and the Kremlin to Eisenhower, Johnson and Nixon, the politics of the space race are discussed in detail which never became boring. He also mixes in relevant side stories, such as the U-2 spy planes which so infuriated Khruschev, as well as Korolev's rivalry with Valentin Glushko, another brilliant Soviet rocket scientist. Wernher von Braun, the former Nazi developer of the V-2 who later helped Walt Disney pitch Disneyland's Tomorrowland on ABC television, became the head of America's missile program, and is a central part of the American story.

But Brzezinski's story-telling skills are superb, and although news from NASA has became fairly mundane, he takes the political intrigue and technological setbacks behind the scenes and turns it into a gripping narrative. You could feel the exhilaration at the successful launch of Sputnik, and the disappointment when the American Vanguard rocket exploded on the launch pad. Alternating back and forth between the Soviets and the Americans, he keeps the information and action flowing fast. I listened to the audio book version, and the narrator, Charles Stransky, does an excellent job complete with Russian accent. Very interesting and highly recommended for fans of Cold War history. ( )
  J.Green | Aug 26, 2014 |
The "space race" was actually a byproduct of the "arms race" between the USA and USSR and had it's beginnings in Nazi Germany. In September 1944, Hitler's army began launching V-2 rockets, the world's first ballistic missiles, against Britain. And when the war ended the Americans and Soviets quickly spirited away any bit of this new technology they could find, including the scientists and engineers who had developed it.

But while America subsequently pursued a strategy of long-range bombers to deliver nuclear weapons, the USSR began a missile program which couldn't be defended against like a squadron of flying planes could be. The genius behind their program was a Soviet engineer named Sergey Korolev (or Korolyov) but known outside a very small circle only as the "Chief Designer." After getting rockets to work he convinced Nikita Khruschev to pursue the launch of the world's first artificial satellite, and on October 4, 1957 Sputnik was launched. But while most leaders in both countries dismissed it as a ridiculous waste of resources, the public was fascinated and terrified by this newly demonstrated capability of the Russians. It quickly turned into a public relations coup.

But this isn't just a history of the beginnings of the space program. Matthew Brzezinski delves heavily into the internal politics of both the Soviet Union and the United States, and that is perhaps the strongest part of the book. From Khruschev and the Kremlin to Eisenhower, Johnson and Nixon, the politics of the space race are discussed in detail which never became boring. He also mixes in relevant side stories, such as the U-2 spy planes which so infuriated Khruschev, as well as Korolev's rivalry with Valentin Glushko, another brilliant Soviet rocket scientist. Wernher von Braun, the former Nazi developer of the V-2 who later helped Walt Disney pitch Disneyland's Tomorrowland on ABC television, became the head of America's missile program, and is a central part of the American story.

But Brzezinski's story-telling skills are superb, and although news from NASA has became fairly mundane, he takes the political intrigue and technological setbacks behind the scenes and turns it into a gripping narrative. You could feel the exhilaration at the successful launch of Sputnik, and the disappointment when the American Vanguard rocket exploded on the launch pad. Alternating back and forth between the Soviets and the Americans, he keeps the information and action flowing fast. I listened to the audio book version, and the narrator, Charles Stransky, does an excellent job complete with Russian accent. Very interesting and highly recommended for fans of Cold War history. ( )
  J.Green | Aug 26, 2014 |
The "space race" was actually a byproduct of the "arms race" between the USA and USSR and had it's beginnings in Nazi Germany. In September 1944, Hitler's army began launching V-2 rockets, the world's first ballistic missiles, against Britain. And when the war ended the Americans and Soviets quickly spirited away any bit of this new technology they could find, including the scientists and engineers who had developed it.

But while America subsequently pursued a strategy of long-range bombers to deliver nuclear weapons, the USSR began a missile program which couldn't be defended against like a squadron of flying planes could be. The genius behind their program was a Soviet engineer named Sergey Korolev (or Korolyov) but known outside a very small circle only as the "Chief Designer." After getting rockets to work he convinced Nikita Khruschev to pursue the launch of the world's first artificial satellite, and on October 4, 1957 Sputnik was launched. But while most leaders in both countries dismissed it as a ridiculous waste of resources, the public was fascinated and terrified by this newly demonstrated capability of the Russians. It quickly turned into a public relations coup.

But this isn't just a history of the beginnings of the space program. Matthew Brzezinski delves heavily into the internal politics of both the Soviet Union and the United States, and that is perhaps the strongest part of the book. From Khruschev and the Kremlin to Eisenhower, Johnson and Nixon, the politics of the space race are discussed in detail which never became boring. He also mixes in relevant side stories, such as the U-2 spy planes which so infuriated Khruschev, as well as Korolev's rivalry with Valentin Glushko, another brilliant Soviet rocket scientist. Wernher von Braun, the former Nazi developer of the V-2 who later helped Walt Disney pitch Disneyland's Tomorrowland on ABC television, became the head of America's missile program, and is a central part of the American story.

But Brzezinski's story-telling skills are superb, and although news from NASA has became fairly mundane, he takes the political intrigue and technological setbacks behind the scenes and turns it into a gripping narrative. You could feel the exhilaration at the successful launch of Sputnik, and the disappointment when the American Vanguard rocket exploded on the launch pad. Alternating back and forth between the Soviets and the Americans, he keeps the information and action flowing fast. I listened to the audio book version, and the narrator, Charles Stransky, does an excellent job complete with Russian accent. Very interesting and highly recommended for fans of Cold War history. ( )
  J.Green | Aug 26, 2014 |
Important book on VonBraun and the rocket program...(3 references to Col J C Nickerson jr) of the Nickerson family of Siluria Al.
  antiqueart | Dec 9, 2013 |
After being hugely impressed by Matthew Brzezinski's Isaac's Army I thought I'd try his earlier book about the history of the development of the early missiles - from the V2 in WWII up to the first US satellite in 1958. The book weaves back and forth between the US and USSR as technology and politics progress. The information about the Soviets is new territory since much has been secret until recently. It covers a lot of interesting events and people such as Sputnik, U2, Sergei Korolev, Wernher von Braun, the first ICBM the R2, the failed Vanguard program, etc..

Interesting perspectives include the strategic mistake the USA made to presume that the USSR's centralized government couldn't succeed at large science projects. How the USA put rocket and space development on hold after WWII as mere "Buck Rogers" science fiction, then were rudely awakened by Sputnik, with Eisenhower seeming out of touch and old school. How Sputnik had no purpose other than testing, it took the newspapers of NY and London for the Soviet leadership to realize they had done something historically important. It goes on like this, many great perspectives and information for those of us who didn't live through it. Sputnik was a watershed moment culturally and politically, this book puts it into perspective. ( )
  Stbalbach | Oct 26, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 080508147X, Hardcover)

For the fiftieth anniversary of Sputnik, the behind-the-scenes story of the fierce battles on earth that launched the superpowers into space
 
The spy planes were driving Nikita Khrushchev mad. Whenever America wanted to peer inside the Soviet Union, it launched a U-2, which flew too high to be shot down. But Sergei Korolev, Russia's chief rocket designer, had a riposte: an artificial satellite that would orbit the earth and cross American skies at will. On October 4, 1957, the launch of Korolev's satellite, Sputnik, stunned the world.

In Red Moon Rising, Matthew Brzezinski takes us inside the Kremlin, the White House, secret military facilities, and the halls of Congress to bring to life the Russians and Americans who feared and distrusted their compatriots as much as their superpower rivals. Drawing on original interviews and new documentary sources from both sides of the Cold War divide, he shows how Khrushchev and Dwight Eisenhower were buffeted by crises of their own creation, leaving the door open to ambitious politicians and scientists to squabble over the heavens and the earth. It is a story rich in the paranoia of the time, with combatants that included two future presidents, survivors of the gulag, corporate chieftains, rehabilitated Nazis, and a general who won the day by refusing to follow orders.

Sputnik set in motion events that led not only to the moon landing but also to cell phones, federally guaranteed student loans, and the wireless Internet. Red Moon Rising recounts the true story of the birth of the space age in dramatic detail, bringing it to life as never before.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:20 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The behind-the-scenes story of the fierce battles on earth that launched the superpowers into space. Khrushchev was frustrated at America's U-2 spy plane, which flew too high to be shot down. But Russia's chief rocket designer, had an answer: an artificial satellite that would orbit the earth and cross American skies at will. The launch of Sputnik on October 4, 1957, stunned the world. Sputnik set in motion events that led not only to the moon landing but also to cell phones, federally guaranteed student loans, and the wireless Internet. Journalist Brzezinski takes us inside the Kremlin, the White House, secret military facilities, and the halls of Congress to bring to life the Russians and Americans who feared and distrusted their compatriots as much as their rivals. It is a story rich in the paranoia of the time.--From publisher description.… (more)

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