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Starman Paperback – Special Edition, 4 Apr 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks; Anniversary edition (4 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408815540
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408815540
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 276,298 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Writer Piers Bizony and award winning film producer Jamie Doran have written a slim, yet well-researched biography of the world's first spaceman, Yuri Gagarin, in Starman. The 250-page book traces Gagarin's jet-propelled life, from his poor- boy roots in the Russian village of Klushino to his historic flight into space on April 12, 1961. The biography's strong point is in its examination of the institutional idiocies and failures that marked the Russian space programme. A classic example would be Gagarin's death in an aircraft crash near Moscow on March 27, 1968. The Soviet authorities left his family believing he was assassinated when it was almost certain that the cause of the crash was a simple air traffic control error. In another incident, a pre-flight report that showed cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov's Soyuz spacecraft had 203 faults--including a parachute that wouldn't open--was pulped. Komarov died in the craft. The biography is a fascinating--yet chilling--look at bureaucracy gone wrong. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

'Starman takes us breakneck speed through Gagarin's strange trajectory...Without books like these to shelter it, history is eroded by propaganda and real heroes fall victim to spin' (New Scientist)

'A riveting account of Gagarin's life ... Starman brilliantly captures the atmosphere of the time' (European)

'Starman skilfully achieves two distinct objectives: The uncovering of much of the mystery around one of mankind's finest periods, and a full and respectful acknowledgement that its many great heroes, both sung and unsung, were, first and foremost, human beings' (Moscow Times)

'Starman was worth writing and is definitely worth reading' (Daily Telegraph)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Based on a recent documentary, this easily read, informative documentary reflects the accesability of the authors original intentions - to examine the life of Yuri Gagarin, one of the worlds most famous men yet one most people know nothing about.
While the standard biographical contact - Yuri's early life in Nazi occupied Russia, his early career and character - is enjoyable enough, the book comes into it's own when it starts to examine the oftem perilous early years of the Russian Space program.
It's a truly fascinating history of one of mankinds greatest acheivements. One of the books great strengths is that it unearths the secret histories of so many remarkable scientists who's achievements have, to date, been largely eclipsed by the enigmatic First Cosmonaut. However the book avoids excessive technobabble, balancing these aspects with explanations of the emotional driving forces behind the Space Race.
The story of Yuri Gagarin doesn't end with his historic 90 minues in space - rather it can be seen as the beginning of the second, sadder story. Touted as a triumph of Socialist achievement Gagarin was flaunted world wide on a series of gruelling diplomatic engagements which initially showcased his remarkable patience, charm and genorosity, but ultimately drove him to drink, depression and a series of embarrasing incidents that would prevent him from ever returning to space.
Even the unpredictable and untimely death of Yuri Gagarin at the hands of an ancient training jet is clouded with secrecy, yet the authors refrain from pandering to conspiracy theorists and treats this event with an unbiased examination of the evidence.
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I found this book one of the best space biographies I have read. Gagarin's childhood during the 2nd World War is dealt with in an interesting manner but thankfully is fairly brief, thankfully because everybody who reads this book will want to know mainly about his cosmonaut career. One of the key elements of Gagarin's life was his relationship with other people and the effects on his career. His crucial associations with Korolev (The Chief Designer) and Nikita Krushchev are covered very well. As is his rivalry with Gherman Titov, with whom he vied to be the first man in space and become a living legend. Fellow cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, who was close to Gagarin for many years, makes many telling contributions throughout the book. The book more or less stamps on the conspiracy theory that says that Gagarin was murdered by the Brezhnev regime, saying that his death was a tragic if mysterious air accident. The book is well written and easy to read, is full of interesting facts and I recommend it whole heartedly.
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Gagarin is a pioneer of the calibre of Darwin, Marco Polo, or Vasco De Gama, yet he was also emblematic of a failed ideology expressed too often in terms of simple thuggish tyranny. As such he is less well recognized in the West than say, Armstrong, Aldrin, or Sagan. Still, as a figure of those times his first flight into space was an absolute turning point, some would say an omega point, of the history of human exploration and expansion. This work thus fulfils a need -- it's well written, readable, and seems to be well researched. As it is the only bio of YG of which I know I cannot critique this as a history, but it seems like a balanced view of this brave and good man's difficult life and accomplishment.
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Yuri Gagarin is one of the most famous men of the 20th Century, due to being the first man in space. But how much do we actually KNOW him? I didn't know much about him at all, so I bought this book.
I'm very glad I did. It adds plenty of colour to Gagarin's legend, and the book does a great job of painting Gagarin as just a normal guy who did an extraordinary thing. A very highly recommended book to anyone interested in 20th Century History or Space Exploration.
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Format: Paperback
A fun read about a fascinating man who had an exciting life. Sadly a little light, because the Cold War era secrecy and labyrinthine Soviet bureaucracy leave gaps in the story. But what a story! How a working class boy ended up the first man in space. How the Americans were beaten, and the real cost of that Soviet victory. The writer carries a lot of hegemonic perception with him - instead of approaching the topic with an open mind, he has an understanding of Soviet society shaped by a lifetime of miseducation and propaganda, and this occasionally jars when Doran comes up against a fact or situation that doesn't fit with his understanding. Fortunately he just runs with it, rather than denying the evidence in front of him as other writers do. Still, there's plenty here for the casual reader, and whilst it isn't completely fair or balanced, it's a sympathetic biography - sympathetic to Gagarin and his colleagues - that doesn't waste time on endless anti-Soviet propaganda like some historians do. Well worth a few hours of your time.
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mike gale

Astonishing depth and breadth, every angle was covered and covered well. I'm not only enlightened and charmed by the wonderful story of a true hero and decent bloke, human for sure but decent nonetheless, but I also feel really satisfied and appreciative of the research the authors have undertaken in what must have been an incredibly frustrating climate of typical Russian secretiveness.
Well done!
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