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Into That Silent Sea: Trailblazers of the Space Era, 1961-1965 (2007)

by Francis FRENCH, Colin BURGESS

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Outward Odyssey: A People's History of Spaceflight (1)

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875313,261 (4.16)4
It was a time of bold new technology, historic moments, and international jousting on the final frontier. But it was also a time of human drama, of moments less public but no less dramatic in the lives of those who made the golden age of space flight happen.

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This series Outward Odyssey: A People's History of Spaceflight, Into That Silent Sea was both entertaining and educational. Learning about the crew and astronauts lives brought new insight to the early days of space travel. ( )
  Book-Dragon1952 | Oct 14, 2015 |
A collective portrait of the American and Soviet space pilots covering the period from Yuri Gagarin's first flight to Alexei Leonov's first space walk, my overall impression is to be more impressed with what the Soviet cosmonauts accomplished as compared to their American counterparts. This is particularly in the case of Gagarin, with his rise from near-indigent peasant existence to fighter pilot to world hero. The crazy chances the Soviet explorers had to take in the name of political competition while depending on weak technology also make one shudder on reflection. ( )
  Shrike58 | Jan 15, 2014 |
A fantastic read about the history of the US and Soviet space program in the early 1960s. The book offers insight into who the astronauts and cosmonauts really were and covers the history and science of the time in an exciting and accessible manner. The only fault I can find with this is the lack of an index, but with a book this good, it seems like more of a nitpick. ( )
1 vote akhelene | Apr 2, 2008 |
Subtitled Trailblazers of the Space Era, 1961 - 1965, this book covers the early US and Soviet space programmes, focusing specifically on the manned space missions. It opens with Yuri Gagarin's historic flight, covers Project Mercury, and then both the Soviet Vostok and Voskhod missions. A detailed biography is given of each astronaut or cosmonaut as they are introduced. There are also a great many anecdotes by those who were present during the events being described. The authors clearly used a large number of materials in their research - the bibliography is thirteen pages long! - as well as interviewing many of the personalities involved.

For the rest of the review see: http://spacebookspace.blogspot.com/2008/02/into-that-silent-sea-francis-french-a... ( )
  iansales | Feb 19, 2008 |
I'm still trying to figure out if the news in the days preceding the release of Into That Silent Sea: Trailblazers of the Space Era, 1961-1965 symbolizes irony or progress.

As the subtitle indicates, the book examines the first efforts by the U.S. and the Soviet Union to put humans into space. One of the areas in which the book excels is reminding us just how hazardous those initial steps were and how they grabbed worldwide attention. The book arrives shortly after the 46th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin becoming the first human to travel into space, an anniversary mentioned at best in passing. In addition, the anniversary came amidst the latest exchange of crew members on the International Space Station. At least in America, that event seems to have drawn attention for one reason -- celebrity Martha Stewart planned a meal for the crew because a billionaire buddy of hers is the latest to pay millions to be a space tourist.

Does the latter show how far we have come since Gagarin's flight or reflect that the media and public today are more interested in celebrity news than the persistent dangers, difficulties and achievements of space flight?

Into That Silent Sea is an excellent reminder of just what Gagarin and other trailblazers did and how they became international celebrities in their own right. We seem to have forgotten just how new the frontier of space was. Would merely orbiting the Earth produce harmful and irreversible changes in the human body? Could astronauts or cosmonauts be expected to physically control a spacecraft? What psychological effects would the darkness and isolation of space produce? While the space station allows continued study of the effects of space on humans, questions such as those seem almost naive today. Yet they were important and substantive unknowns during the time period covered by the book.

Not only does Into That Silent Sea remind us of how primitive our beginnings in space were, it does so by focusing on the astronauts and cosmonauts who risked (and some of whom lost) their lives advancing science. Unlike last year's Space Race, which looked at the entire lunar race largely from the perspective of the heads of the programs, Into That Silent Sea delves into the very first steps into space largely from the viewpoint of the astronaut/cosmonaut. (Co-authors Francis French and Colin Burgess are working on a follow-up book covering the programs from 1965 through 1969.) Although there is at times a formulaic feel to the chapter structures, we learn about the personal lives and families, the training and the missions of each of the astronauts and cosmonauts who ventured into space in those first years. Their backgrounds reveal not only what helped make them pioneers, but differences between the U.S. and Soviet programs.

Balance of review at http://prairieprogressive.com/2007/04/24/book-review-into-that-silent-sea/
  PrairieProgressive | Sep 24, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
FRENCH, Francisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
BURGESS, Colinmain authorall editionsconfirmed
HANEY, PaulForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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We were the first that ever burst,
Into that silent sea.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"
For Scott Carpenter and Gherman Titov.
Sometimes being next is harder than being first.
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It was a time of bold new technology, historic moments, and international jousting on the final frontier. But it was also a time of human drama, of moments less public but no less dramatic in the lives of those who made the golden age of space flight happen.

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