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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So Near yet so Far, 11 July 2005
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This review is from: The Soviet Space Race with Apollo (Paperback)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Perfect But Worth the Effort, 30 May 2008
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Andy H (Nottingham, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Soviet Space Race with Apollo (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
4.0 out of 5 stars At last the story is told, 16 Sep 2008
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This review is from: The Soviet Space Race with Apollo (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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The Soviet Space Race with Apollo
The Soviet Space Race with Apollo by Asiya Siddiqi (Paperback - 28 Feb 2003)
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