Name: Space Race : The epic battle between America and the Soviet Union for dominion of space.
Author: Deborah Cadbury
Genre: Non Fiction/History/Space
Book Post No. 39
What is it about? : Mankind’s venture into space is perhaps one of its finest accomplishments. The zenith was reached when humans landed on the moon in 1969. This achievement was the culmination of an intense race between the two superpowers at the time United States and Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Russia). This book details the story of this space race which begins with the defeat of Nazis during the second world war. The Nazis were said to be 20 years ahead of everyone in rocket and missile science. With its defeat the Nazi learnings and key personnel were in hot demand in USA,UK and USSR. The knowledge gained from the Nazis kickstarted the race between USSR and USA.
How I came to read it? : I had a visit to NASA’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas planned in June of this year. In order to prepare for the visit I wanted to spruce up my knowledge about space exploration. A quick look into the catalogue of my local library resulted in the borrowing of this book.
Did I like it? : Loved it. This is a detailed and thoroughly enjoyable book which, at times, reads like a spy thriller. One of the best things about this book is the info presented about the USSR side of things. Many of us know Werner Von Braun and his exploits but how many of us know anything about the Russian side? We know Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space, we know Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space but do we know the person responsible for these missions? This person’s identity was hidden for much of the cold war. He was simply known as the Chief Designer. His name was Sergei Korolev, a genius with an almost superhuman capacity for work. For much of the space race, it was Korolev vs the Americans. Korolev’s partnership with his genius engine designer Valentina Glushko is enjoyable and it feels sad to finally see it end with Korolev’s death. The book is filled with some extraordinary humans and its fascinating to see how the space race was shaped and how it resulted in humans exploring the final frontier, space.
Positives: Crisp, reads like a spy thriller at times with nail biting suspense.
Negatives: Would have been better if there was another chapter bringing the reader up to date with the latest advancements in space exploration.
Any other personal notes, observations, fun facts etc.: Sergei Korolev