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Thread: Good Book about the Space Race

  1. #1
    Master
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    Good Book about the Space Race

    Slightly random I know, but can anyone recommend a good, accessible but comprehensive book about the Space Race?
    I'm reading "The Apollo Murders", a thriller by an ex astronaut & it's rekindled my interest in the topic which was lukewarm hitherto. The sheer scale of the project & the issues that had to be overcome using the technology of the period are incredible.
    I'd be grateful if anyone can suggest a good book that would entertain & inform.
    Many thanks,

  2. #2
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    The best book I’ve read covering more about the technical aspects of the Apollo program was Apollo: The Race To The Moon by Charles Murray and Catherine Bly Cox. It’s been out of print for a while I think, so prices are high, but there is a Kindle edition.

    A Man On The Moon by Andrew Chaikin is a decent overview of the Apollo missions.

    If you want a book covering both the US and Soviet programs, Space Race by Deborah Cadbury.

    Failure Is Not An Option by Gene Kranz is a good insight into Mission Control.

    Apollo 13 by Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kruger obviously concentrates on that particular mission, but does it well and in some detail, and does cover some earlier flights as well.

    Some of the books by astronauts themselves have been a bit patchy, but Last Man On The Moon by Eugene Cernan is one of the better ones.

    Finally, if you move on to the shuttle program, Into The Black by Roland White is a good account of its development and maiden flight.
    Last edited by StackH; 25th November 2021 at 07:25.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by StackH View Post
    The best book Iíve read covering more about the technical aspects of the Apollo program was Apollo: The Race To The Moon by Charles Murray and Catherine Bly Cox. Itís been out of print for a while I think, so prices are high, but there is a Kindle edition.

    A Man On The Moon by Andrew Chaikin is a decent overview of the Apollo missions.

    If you want a book covering both the US and Soviet programs, Space Race by Deborah Cadbury.

    Failure Is Not An Option by Gene Kranz is a good insight into Mission Control.

    Apollo 13 by Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kruger obviously concentrates on that particular mission, but does it well and in some detail, and does cover some earlier flights as well.

    Some of the books by astronauts themselves have been a bit patchy, but Last Man On The Moon by Eugene Cernan is one of the better ones.

    Finally, if you move on to the shuttle program, Into The Black by Roland White is a good account of its development and maiden flight.

    Agree with every one of those suggestions and I'd add Two Sides of the Moon by Dave Scott & Alexei Leonov and Carrying the Fire by Mike Collins.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the replies, some good suggestions! I have Roland White's book, plus Cernan, Collins & Chaikin. I also have Moondust, can't recall the author but I think he's a Brit. He once met an Apollo astronaut and set out to meet the surviving moonwalkers. It's very good. I have seen a Gene Kranz lecture on YouTube, I will look out for the book.

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    Master petethegeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy2254 View Post
    I also have Moondust, can't recall the author but I think he's a Brit.
    Andrew Smith.

    For the zeitgeist, A Fire on the Moon by Norman Mailer.

    Slightly niche but a definitive description of the onboard computer, The Apollo Guidance Computer: Architecture and Operation.

  6. #6
    If you've got kids and want to get them a bit more interested in space then a really good friend of ours has written a couple that are excellent... If you've got girls then A Galaxy of Her Own is particularly inspiring.


    A Galaxy of Her Own and Space Explorers






  7. #7
    Master Robertf's Avatar
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    I'd recommend Space Race by Deborah Cadbury, covers some topics less frequently covered. nicely written too!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by petethegeek View Post
    Andrew Smith.

    For the zeitgeist, A Fire on the Moon by Norman Mailer.

    Slightly niche but a definitive description of the onboard computer, The Apollo Guidance Computer: Architecture and Operation.
    Thanks, yes, Andrew Smith. I'll look at the Mailer, that could be a good read.
    On YouTube the National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) has a really good lecture on the guidance computer (& a very good one by Turing's nephew on Enigma).

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    Grand Master Neil.C's Avatar
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    Apart from already mentioned, The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe is a really great overview of the early US space program when military and test pilots were selected and trained for the Mercury missions - riveting stuff.
    Cheers,
    Neil.

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    Moonfire by Norman Mailer for Apollo 11.

    As tangent. For All Mankind on Apple TV is really good. It works on an alternate reality where the Russians landed on the moon first.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by reecie View Post

    As tangent. For All Mankind on Apple TV is really good. It works on an alternate reality where the Russians landed on the moon first.
    Absolutely, great show, highly recommended. The HBO series From The Earth To The Moon is also pretty decent.

  12. #12
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    Got the Mailer, "Fire on the Moon" got some good reading coming my way!

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    Riding Rockets by Mike Mullane is very entertaining (space shuttle pilot), as is the Mike Collins Carrying The Fire.
    Do not bother with the Buzz Aldrin book Magnificent Desolation. There is very little about Apollo or the moon landing in it, concentrating mainly on his life after that.
    Last edited by Gruntfuttock; 25th November 2021 at 21:48.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gruntfuttock View Post
    Riding Rockets by Mike Mullane is very entertaining (space shuttle pilot), as is the Mike Collins Carrying The Fire.
    Do not bother with the Buzz Aldrin book Magnificent Desolation. There is very little about Apollo or the moon landing in it, concentrating mainly on his life after that.
    Thanks for the tip, I saw that earlier and put it on my Kindle list, is his life dull post Apollo?

  15. #15
    Grand Master snowman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil.C View Post
    Apart from already mentioned, The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe is a really great overview of the early US space program when military and test pilots were selected and trained for the Mercury missions - riveting stuff.
    I was surprised this wasn't mentioned first (or, at least, earlier).

    Obviously, it covers the very early days of manned space flight, but it's still the definitive book on the subject (IMVHO).

    The Discovery Channel series (and of course, the older film, which has a different focus) is very good, too.

    M
    Breitling Cosmonaute 809 - What's not to like?

  16. #16
    Master
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    Got the Right Stuff, went to look for it in the Kindle store only to be told I already had it! Turns out I'd bought it but not downloaded it.

  17. #17
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    Not a book, but I really enjoyed the Ď13 minutes to the Mooní podcasts on BBC Sounds that I only just discovered.

    There are 2 series, one on the Apollo programme and the second covering Apollo 13.

    I thought I knew a lot about the moon landings, but thereís a lot more in the podcasts.

  18. #18
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    Not a book but this is excellent reading and pretty much definitive in terms of detail relating to Apollo - the Lunar Surface Journal:
    https://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/

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