... readable ... well-written ... Muir-Harmony effectively describes how space programs, especially those in the United States, were an attempt to win the hearts and minds of people and an effort to advance U.S. national interests during the mid-20th century ... Anyone interested in the early days of space exploration will be drawn to this fast-paced, accessible book.
... a conscientiously researched account that may be a long haul for general readers. After all, it’s no revelation that John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, John Foster Dulles and his brother Allen (head of the CIA) practiced diplomatic lunacy with great flair ... To tell her story, Ms. Muir-Harmony, a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, has mined the information agency’s archives so thoroughly that she buries the reader in repetitious detail. Her book is stuffed with crowd estimates at exhibits, poll results from obscure outposts like Madagascar, and chirpy dispatches from far-flung U.S.I.A. staffers ... So the irony—unremarked by Ms. Muir-Harmony—is that the exploration of space, one of mankind’s premier achievements, owes its impetus less to Promethean scientific ambition than to the competition between capitalism and communism in the middle of the 20th century. And the provisional victory of capitalism in that struggle owes less to winning the space race than to fundamental contradictions—as Marx would say—of the socialist regime he inspired.
... engaging ... Muir-Harmony, a curator at the Smithsonian, draws on a rich cache of documents from NASA and the United States Information Agency, among other sources, to bring to vivid life the ground-level public relations onslaught surrounding the Apollo project ... a winning remembrance of a time when America thought big and optimistically about its role in the world.
Innumerable books describe the technical details of Project Apollo, but the author maintains her focus on politics, which means that space buffs will find little new information. Emphasizing that the goal was restoring the United States’ unchallenged world leadership, she delivers a knowledgeable, detailed, and overlong description of 'the largest public relations campaign in world history.' Muir-Harmony is clearly impressed with the effort ... In making her passionate case, Muir-Harmony devotes lengthy chapters to the minutiae of global astronaut publicity tours, sections that may overwhelm general readers but appeal to policy wonks.