New Books Inspired By The 50th Anniversary Of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

Kirkus Reviews Editor-in-Chief Clay Smith reviews “American Moonshot” and “Shoot for the Moon.”

By Joy DiazApril 1, 2019 1:26 pm,

Perhaps it was “one small step for a man,” but that step unleashed the imaginations of millions. The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing is in July, and publishers are releasing books this year that explore that historic event, and the space race in general.

Clay Smith, editor-in-chief of Austin-based Kirkus Reviews, says that 50 years later, people are still fascinated by the moon landing, and these books reflect that:

Smith says “American Moonshot” by Douglas Brinkley explores the political dynamics surrounding the space race.

If the story of NASA’s effect on suburban Maryland and the Florida coast was transparent, the mechanism that brought the Manned Spacecraft Center to Houston was the opposite: a brew of back rooms, boardrooms, barbecues and Texas politics bubbling thick. … As an exercise in rock-hard politics, the power behind the Houston decision rested squarely on two men: Congressman Albert Thomas and Vice President Lyndon Johnson – From “American Moonshot”

Smith says “Shoot for the Moon” by James Donovan is ideal for “the space nerd.” He says no one knew at the time what would happen once humans went into space, and the book explores the questions people were asking at the time when so much about human space exploration was unknown.

Could an astronaut survive the fierce gravitational forces of acceleration and deceleration during liftoff and re-entry, and remain conscious without suffering any lasting damage? What would be the effects of space radiation unfiltered by the Earth’s atmosphere? Perhaps it would burn retinas and skin, mutate DNA, sterilize gonads. A burst of deadly radiation from a solar flare might kill an astronaut.  – From “Shoot for the Moon”

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Written by Morgan Kuehler.