When young Jim Schefter was a stringer for the Houston Chronicle and later Life magazine, he scored the plum reporting assignment of the 1960s--close-up coverage of the tense, heady race to space between the Americans and the Soviets. That pivotal decade in space exploration gave us near misses, giddy victories, and tragic failures that are hard to even imagine now as we yawn at the ubiquitous "routine shuttle launch". But the space race back then was deadly serious stuff: America's best and brightest scientists were teamed up with bold cowboy astronauts to win what was then seen as the most visible, most crucial battle in the Cold War. And Jim Schefter--thanks to an exclusive contract Life had inked with the astronauts and their families--sat front-row centre, from the earliest launches on to Neil Armstrong's hastily composed words as he stepped off the Eagle.
Armed with copious notes, reams of NASA and Soviet documents, and countless closed-door, at times embarrassing anecdotes, Schefter recounts the tit-for-tat one-upmanship of those early days in The Race. He goes as far back as the post-World War Two grab for Nazi rocket technology, revealing that many joked at the time that the US-Soviet race was being conducted by the Germans--"our Germans versus their Germans". Schefter ably conveys the era's tension and exhilaration, jumping back and forth between the US and Russian teams with smart, super-friends pacing (think "meanwhile, back at the Hall of Justice..."), while also offering up solid historical and technical context and many uncomfortably funny asides.--Paul Hughes
The Story of the Moon Race Between Russia and America
From the Back Cover
On July 21st 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first person to step on the surface of the moon. As he did so, he uttered the immortal words 'one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.'
No achievement defines the modern era more than America's historic moon landing, yet it was the culmination of a decade's long struggle between the Soviet Union and America that epitomised the Cold War. The Race is the definitive history of the battle between the superpowers, from the first Sputnik into space in 1957, through Yuri Gagarin's first manned space flight in 1961 to the years of America's Apollo Saturn rocket programme that finally saw the USA snatch the prize from Russia.
This irresistible story is populated by inspired inventors, feuding rocket scientists, extraordinarily brave astronauts and imperturbable mission controllers. It is a tale of blind faith, of a giant leap into the unknown, of national pride and political ambition, and one of the greatest achievement of science and of humanity.
'Entertaining, brimful of racy incident' Mail on Sunday
'An excellent read' Daily Express
About the Author
James Schefter covered NASA from 1963 to 1973. His work has appeared in magazines as diverse as Popular Science, Reader's Digest and Paris Match.