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The Soviet Space Race with Apollo Paperback – 28 Feb 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida (28 Feb. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813026288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813026282
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 14.6 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 624,389 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"The essential reference work for Soviet/Russian space history...for anyone hoping to make sense of the too many 'truths' of Soviet Space history." - Journal of Military History; "We finally have a definitive English-language history covering the first three decades of the Soviet Union's space program. Sixteen years in the making, Asif Siddiqi's amazingly detailed book provides a kaleidoscopic view of the technical and political evolution of Soviet missile and space projects....a veritable gold-mind of factual information." - Air Power History; "An extraordinary volume....This is not simply an account of one side of the space race. It is nothing less than the first full-scale, detailed explanation of how and why the Soviet Union led the world into space." - The Public Historian; "No space buff's library will be complete without this book. Readers will marvel at the complex interactions between design bureaus, and will enjoy getting to know the people behind the failed Soviet effort - a vital step toward putting Apollo's victory in context." - Smithsonian Air and Space; "Absolutely mandatory on the bookshelf of anyone interested in space." - Encyclopedia Astronautica

About the Author

Asif Siddiqi is a Ph.D. candidate in history at Carnegie Mellon University and author of Deep Space Chronicle: A Chronology of Deep Space and Planetary Probes, 1958-2000.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tony on 11 July 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of the frustrations of watching Apollo in the 60s and 70s was never knowing what the 'other side' were doing. Well, here's the answer and some of it is more than a little surprising.
I should start by saying what this book isn't: This is half of a book, not Volume 2. We start at page 517 and proceed to page 1005. Being the second half of the book, it includes the Tables and Appendices (over 100 pages of them) plus the index. The index actually covers the whole book which can be frustrating for those (like me) who only have this half.
The book also suffers in places from dreadful English, though the meaning is generally clear. It is also short on illustrations and the quality of those that are included is mediocre (no plates, just black and white photos included with the text).
So, having covered the negatives, I can now say that this is a fascinating book. It is apparently comprehensive and tells the story of how the lead in the space race slipped from the Soviets' grasp. Their lunar programme fragmented and, in the end, they just could not match NASA's supreme example and put a man on the moon. Sadly, they then tried to conceal the fact that they had even tried.
I was gripped by the in-fighting that gave them two parallel moon programmes (one to orbit, a different one to land) and frustrated as the N1 (the Soviet Saturn V) repeatedly failed its launch tests. As an engineer, I felt the urge to go back and bang heads together to make them focus - they were almost there!
I think this says much for the telling of the story. The rest, in the Tables and Appendices, shows the depth of work that has gone into this book; much of it is based on Russian material only made available in the 90s. It is half of the book but, in the end, that matters less than you might expect. This is a must-read for Apollo followers out there.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andy H on 30 May 2008
Format: Paperback
This book really does follow the first volume "Sputnik & The Soviet Space Challenge". It actually starts at Chapter 12 so you really should read the first volume before embarking on this book.

These books appear quite daunting at first with their small type but most pages have a large reference section at the bottom so there's not quite as much text to read as first meets the eye.

The story that unfolds is a fascinating insight into a closed & secretive world which, surprisingly, functioned at times in near chaos. Basically Apollo had twice the funding with a single goal whereas the Soviets were constantly developing multiple programs, often for the same objective!

Asif Siddiqi does tend to produce long lists of names of the personnel involved, which to be honest I tended to skip over when reading. There are only so many Russian names you can read.

My other criticism of the book was the sparsity of pictures & photographs. While there are photos & illutrations in the book, Siddiqi often describes details or machinery that I really wanted to see. In fact I often found myself looking for rockets & ships on Google to help me to understand exactly how things looked & worked.

These books do require some work but anyone interested in the Space Race will find them rewarding. I always wanted to find out how & why the Soviets lost their lead to the USA and now I know.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. C. B. Petty on 16 Sept. 2008
Format: Paperback
After so many years of hearing garbled views and opinions on what exactly did go on in the Soviet space programme, this book provides an exhaustive history from the very genesis of Soviet rocketry to the failed Lunar quest and change in direction of the 70's. It's good to hear the stories of bravery and engineering genius involved, often under a difficult political climate, as opposed to the prevailing Western view which often paints the Soviets as not having the skills to execute complicated missions or being completely reactive to Western efforts.

For those who roundly criticize NASA and project Apollo (Dark side of the Moon for instance), here's the flipside showing what can happen without strong central administration. The main disappointment with this book is the lack of decent photography. Also, this quite a heavy academic read, so one for real enthusiasts.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Soviet Space Race With Apollo adds flesh to the rumours 19 Sept. 2003
By Nigel Millard - Published on
Format: Paperback
For anyone who has an interest in the space race, or the Soviet space program, this book is a must read. It covers the Mishin years as chief designer, and chronicles the downfall of the soviet manned lunar orbital, and lunar landing programs, which were cancelled after the fourth failure of the N1 super booster in 1974. It also covers the Glushko era, and the formation of NPO Energia in the late 1970's.
My only critisizm of the book is that it can be heavy going in places, typical of any official NASA history text. All the known facts are recorded in print, no matter how mundane they may be. However, many of these facts are the details that serious space buffs have thirsted for, for many years. This book adds flesh to the bones of Soviet space history, and shines light into previously shady areas. Topics of particular interest are: the failure of Soyuz 1, the death of Gagarin, the crushing affects of Apollo 8, and the long and continuous string of Proton and N1 launch failures that caused the demise of the Soviet lunar program.
The Soviets eventually turned to their military Almaz program for salvation; which spawned the Salyut space station. This too turned to disater when the first occupants died aboard their Soyuz 11 re-entry vehicle. Some of the books best moments are the eye witness accounts of pivotal events in the program, reproduced from the diaries of General Nikolay Kamanin and the touching story of the N1 booster, which was so close to success before it was ultimately cancelled, dismantled, and completely destoyed by Glushko.
The book is illustrated with small black and white images, but for better photographs, of the N1 and other soviet equipment of this era, I recommend "Rocket and Space Corporation Energia: The Legacy of S. P. Korolev".
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
You think you have job stress ? 1 Feb. 2004
By Alexander T. Gafford - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You think you have job stress? This book,written from Russian source material by a PhD candidate commisioned by NASA, details the huge difficulties Russian engineers had trying to accomplish what they did in the chaotic and Byzantine world of the Soviet space program. Their technical decisions are well described and their personal issues and rivalries dealt with fairly and objectively. I came away with a deep respect for the achievments of the Russians. Their technology base was thin and weak compared to that of the U.S. and they developed many innovative ways to overcome it. The two most interesting aspects to me were the way in which German missile technology was incorporated and then surpassed to start the Russian program and the coverage of the ill-fated but fascinating N1/L1 Moon program. Do be warned - this is a dense, heavily researched, and highly detailed book - not a light read !
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
This book fills in all the details about the Soviet side of the Moon Race... 25 Mar. 2006
By Faith - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent and extraordinarily thorough analysis of how the Soviet space program went from the highs of Sputnik and Vostok (covered in the author's first book) to the disappointments of the failed attempts to launch a circumlunar mission or an actual manned lunar landing. If the book is a perhaps excessively detailed and not a light read, I think that's fine, because it also answers the many questions I always had of what REALLY happened during these tense years of the Soviet/American space race. The Soviet efforts were for so long shrouded in mystery and even when revelations came they seemed incomplete. I think this author's strong emphasis on original source material and exhaustive research have been well rewarded. If you want the complete story, this is a must have.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding Reference on the Soviet Space Program 26 Feb. 2010
By Thomas A. Vasiloff - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For the amateur space enthusiast, Siddiqi's book represents a highly informative, throughly-researched reference on the Soviet/Russian space program. By focusing on the efforts to land cosmonauts on the moon in competition with Apollo, Siddiqi carefully documents the people and reasons why this effort ultimately did not succeed.

It is indeed not a light read in some spots, but reader patience is rewarded. The scope and magnitude of his research is astounding and one comes away with a much better sense of the impact the Soviet space efforts had on the "space race."

There are lots of interesting pieces of information related to the Soyuz 1 and 11 tragedies, the N1/L3 program that are not readily included in other works. The final chapter best summarizes the content of Siddiqi's work and the appendices and tables provide exhaustive information that the space enthusiast would appreciate.

It is indeed a "must have/must read" and belongs in the collection of any space enthusiast!
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I agree, but... 10 Jun. 2009
By Michael Morris - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The previous reviews are thoughtful and accurate descriptions. I am used to reading technical histories and I think the facts are all here. But compared to the best of the genre, this one could have used better editing for a more sensible and engaging story. A better title would have been "A History of Soviet Manned Lunar Programs". I didn't get the feeling that I was reading about a race at all, even though the facts prove that the Soviets believed they were in one.
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