As the fiftieth anniversary of the first lunar landing approaches, the award-winning historian and perennial New York Times bestselling author Douglas Brinkley takes a fresh look at the space program, President John F. Kennedy’s inspiring challenge, and America’s race to the moon.
... the best of the Apollo 11 books to appear so far this year but also, surprisingly and pleasingly, the best biography of Kennedy published in years. Here as in all his books, Brinkley is a generous, beguiling writer; he takes readers on a longer narrative of Kennedy’s life in order to show them the man behind the moonshot – and attempt to plumb his motives.
Though Brinkley tries to make it clear in the beginning that the book is more about a contribution 'to U.S. presidential history (not space studies),' it is made obvious how many facts and lore surrounding the first three human spaceflight programs he has had to internalize and articulate in one volume ... In an effort not to rehash the same tired facts surrounding the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions, Brinkley focuses his book on JFK’s efforts to understand the technology and engineering necessary for a lunar landing. There are still topics introduced that add a new dimension to and appreciation for the many unsung heroes ... does the service of explaining how the space program and America benefited from JFK’s dedication to the moonshot. Few have undertaken such an effort before, but Brinkley does a masterful job due to his extensive research and the weaving of American history that illuminates the fascinating characters about whom he speaks. It also paints us a vivid reminder of an America willing to accomplish a common and worthy goal. The continuous struggles that the Apollo mission faced is not discussed much here, perhaps to its benefit ... Space and Cold War enthusiasts alike will be delighted by this highly engaging resource into the political development of the program that ended in historic triumph rather than tragedy.
...the best new study of the American mission to space, rich in research and revelation ... Brinkley carefully considers this and other attacks launched by civil rights activists, like the National Urban League’s Whitney Young.