27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars
Space Race?, 5 Jan 2006
I should have realized when I picked up the book that I was wasting my money. The title is “Space Race: The untold story of two rivals & their struggle for the moon”. Of course this story has already been told at least a dozen times - just do a search for ‘Space Race’ or similar on Amazon. I should have realized that with a title that was so blatantly wrong to put the book down and get something else.
The book is basically a historical look at the USA and USSR space programs up to the Apollo 11 landing and there is nothing wrong with this - I enjoy reading books covering the historical background on various scientific, engineering and technical topics. Great examples include ‘Latitude’ by David Sobel, ‘The Measure of all things’ by Ken Alder, and of course, ‘The Right Stuff’ by Tom Wolfe. However in ‘Space Race’ there are numerous scientific and technical errors - and not just a few small ones either. Almost every time the author delves into some technical area there are fundamental and gross errors. For example, on page 312 she states that solar panels use the sun’s heat. Well, no, solar panels (photovoltaic) actually use the sun’s light, not heat. She refers to oxidizers as ‘fuel’ rather than propellant and states that napalm will ignite in the vacuum of space. To some it may be unreasonable to criticize these errors, but if such basic technical errors are made it not only shows that the book was not properly researched and proof-read, but it also leads one to doubt the historical accuracy of the book.
The other major annoyance with this book is the language. It is full of hyperbole and overly florid language and often reads more like a Mills and Boon romance novel or a soap opera script. For example in this section she writes of a test dummy’s landing: “His sightless eyes took in a God’s eye view of the world. His unhearing ears heard the retro engines fire to perfection. His unfeeling limbs felt the rush as he landed on a quite edge of the woods in falling snow near a remote village.”
Usually a book like this I would devour in a day or two, but with this one, I have taken over a month. I read a page or two until I become so annoyed by the errors and poor writing that I put it down and only picked it up again when I have absolutely nothing else to do.