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.
Brinkley’s story is a gripping one, matching the passion and idealism of the New Frontier with the technological, engineering, and physics challenges inherent in converting rudimentary rockets into space boosters for Project Mercury and then, with an eye on the main prize, developing the giant Saturn V rocket and concocting the notion of sending a lunar-excursion module to the lunar surface while a command module orbited above the moon waiting to ferry the astronauts (and their cache of moon rocks) home to a breathless Earth ... Brinkley writes with an eye to the main narrative but with ample digressions to explain the political and, often, technical challenges Kennedy faced. And as someone who was only 2 years old when Kennedy was assassinated, Brinkley’s vision is fresh, not affected by, nor infected with, the lost-promise romanticism dating to Nov. 22, 1963, that so many writers of that period possess.
... transcends mere narrative to help the rest of us understand how America geared up for the astonishing feat of landing a man on the moon. With the approach of the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s 'small step for man,' Brinkley’s focus on the all-important early days provides a valuable perspective.
Brinkley does a masterful job of showing how Kennedy’s idealism, Cold War mentality, and political savvy combine to pledge the U.S. to a moon landing in his historical speech of May 25, 1961 ... If one man can be said to have gotten Americans to the moon, it was definitely John F. Kennedy, and this new book brings out the full story of that fateful pledge to 'land a man on the moon and return him safely to the Earth.'