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Epic Rivalry: The Inside Story of the Soviet and American Space Race Hardcover – 31 Oct 2007

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic Society (31 Oct. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426201192
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426201196
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 3 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 939,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


""Epic Rivalry" is history at its best, a fascinating story deeply researched and well told."
--David Maraniss, author of "They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967"
""Epic Rivalry" is a stunning new book on the space race. Erudite yet entertaining, it clearly analyzes the events leading to the first lunar landing, as seen through American and Soviet eyes. It makes fascinating reading today and merits a spot on the bookshelf as a valuable reference."
--Michael Collins, Apollo 11 command-module pilotand author of "Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys
""Beautifully written and highly informative, "Epic Rivalry" is an exceptionally engaging look back at one of the most compelling episodes of the Cold War--the space race. Hardesty and Eisman make use of the trove of new information available in recent years to recreate the sense of wonder, excitement, and urgency that drove men and women on both sides of the Iron Curtain to make a reach for the new frontier of space. By successfully weaving the technical with the human, they have given readers a fresh view of one of humanity's greatest adventures."
--Asif Siddiqi, author of "Challenge to Apollo: The Soviet Union and the Space Race, 1945-1974"

About the Author

Von Hardesty is a curator at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Gene Eisman is an independent historian.

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ms. S. Bowes on 9 Oct. 2007
Format: Hardcover
I ordered this book not expecting much; an uninspired retread, totally biased towards the Americans, illustrated with the same old photos we've all seen hundreds of times before; Saturn V on Launch Pad, Korolev Holding Dog etc etc ... how many times have I been let down while trying to find out something new about the Space Race!
Imagine my delight, then, when this book turned out to be the complete opposite! The writers (and the picture researcher) have really pulled their fingers out, and have taken their remit seriously. The book is full of new information (I was particularly fascinated by the accounts of the building of the Cape Canaveral and Baikonur spaceports) as well as a set of rare and fascinating photographs, which really succeed in capturing the atmosphere of that astonishing time. I was particularly captivated by a charming photo of a group of little boys excitedly launching toy rockets - where has that joy and wonder gone, in these more dreary and cynical times?
The book is also exceptionally well bound, in high-quality paper, and a rather marvellous cover, featuring a silver-blocked map of the Moon - front and back. This one won't fall to bits in a hurry.
There are a few caveats - the scientific protagonists (unlike the astronauts) without whom this incredible adventure could never have happened, are not well delineated at all, and as a result the book has, at times, a rather hollow feel to it. I was disappointed to find little information on a scientist and visionary I find particularly interesting, the Russian Mikhail Tikhonravov (a biographical study is surely well overdue) and there are some careless errors (Korolev has been given the wrong patronymic at one point).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D on 29 Feb. 2012
Format: Hardcover
There are many books out there on the space race. This was is quite in depth yet readable. One of the best books on the subject out there.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A poor production 19 Mar. 2008
By pgr-fw - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This should be a good book, but disappoints in both the quantity and quality of its coverage of the great power rivalry for the dominance of space.

It starts well, with an first-person account by Sergei Kruschchev of the first Sputniks. Kruschchev had a unique vantage point on the whole affair, as a technically knowledgeable person with an insider's pass on the political affairs of the Soviet Union. The first chapter or so, on the WW II German effort is worthwhile as well.

From that point it deteriorates rapidly into superficial re-hashes of old news, poorly presented. I started working on an errata, but gave up after averaging one a page for twenty pages. Some are slipups on minor facts: page 159 map referring to "Kennedy Space Flight Center", or using the acronym "LEM", which was discarded in the early 60's, or saying that the Cape was scorpion infested. Some are bad editing, leading to incorrect statements: p. 249 "Mir, which remained in orbit between 1971 and 2001". Some are failures to globally edit, e.g. telling the tale of the renaming of Cape Canaveral twice. There's also a problem of scope: at times it can't decide if it wants to be about the 50s and 60s or today. This on top of being full of technical groaners too numerous to count, like constantly calling RP-1 "volatile" or completely missing the point on why Gemini used ejection seats rather than an escape tower.

A single volume account of the most turbulent days of the space effort would be welcome; sadly, this isn't it. I wish I could even recommend it as an introduction, to be followed immediately by something more in-depth, but it's so full of inaccuracies I would be doing the reader a disservice. For the interested reader, "Apollo" by Murray and Cox, and "Red Star in Orbit" by James Oberg will readably take you through the two sides, are much more thorough and technically correct, and both rated 5 stars by hordes of readers. They will take you three times as long to read, but you will ultimately profit by not having to unlearn any thing later.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Interesting, but not real deep 24 Feb. 2008
By R. J. McCabe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Overall, I thought this book was somewhat shallow, with little "meat" to fully engage the reader. It's an OK overview for someone who really didn't know much about rocket development/space programs from the 40's to the early 70's.

I found the discussion of German rocket development during WWII the most interesting part, and learned a few things about the Russian space efforts that I hadn't heard before. The discussion of the US space program was fairly mundane. If you followed the news during that period of time you'll already know most of what's presented here.
Both sides then. 2 April 2008
By VerbRiver - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In a snapshot world with nano attention spans, Epic Rivalry manages to grab and hold on. The world in 1957 was on the seam between vacuum tube and microchip, between perceived American complacency and Russian Atomic tests that dropped Strontium 90 in milk bottles across the United States. Amid the tension and fear, two clumsy stumbling giants began the race that framed the future and shapes the world view of space to this day.

Von Hardesty and Gene Eisman take you back to the origins, before Sputnik, through its launch in October of 1957 and into the arms of current space. With eloquence and discernment they bring to life the voices of the electrifying story from both sides of the Iron Curtain. There is magic in these pages because what you are hearing isn't competing specifications but rather the rise and fall of mutual dreams.

Noah could have floated on the flood of space books currently available. Epic Rivalry is the place to dip your oar. It's the core of the whole story. If you are old enough to remember or young enough to wonder, Epic Rivalry is your book and Hardesty and Eisman your always illuminating guides.
Great overview 23 Nov. 2012
By Daniel J. Knauf - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are interested in the race to the Moon, this is by far one of the very best books. The information about the Soviet space program was (for me) the most interesting and useful for one of my current writing projects. An excellent read!
So and so 25 Jun. 2011
By Ido - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Not a very thorough book. The fact that the book was written by two authors is prominent and the same facts and the same stories are repeated in different chapters.
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