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on 4 February 2006
The books authors are both men with extensive space flight experience, Leonov was, amongst other things, the first man to walk in space and the commander Soyuz craft that docked with the American vehicle in the historic 1975 joint mission. Scott went into orbit in Gemini 8 with Neil Armstrong and also made a landing and walked on the Moon as commander of Apollo 15.
The format of the book is that periods from 1965 to 1975 are split into arbitariry portions and each astronaut/cosmonaut writes anything between a couple of paragraphs and several pages on subjects such as events in his personal life, his country but mainly in his countries space programme. Because of the format used the book is very easy to read and can skip effortlessly from USA to the USSR and back again without losing any momentum or it feeling forced. All the main characters and events are covered from a personal perspective, the first satellite –Sputnik, Korolev, von Braun, Gargarins first space flight, the death of Komarov, Americas initial problems getting a reliable launch vehicle, the tragedy of Apollo 1, the USSR/USA casualties that occurred during training/preparation for flights as well as all the successes of the various missions and the men behind them. Fascinating stuff.

The only slight disappointment for me came in the Epilogue where Scott uses it for a bit of gloating/ political tub-thumping over America getting to the Moon first. It’s nothing too major but I goes so much against the spirit in which the rest of the book is written that it’s really noticeable and a bit puzzling.
In short, one of the best books I’ve read on the subject. Recommended.
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on 14 June 2004
Two Sides of the Moon is essentially a story of the space race during the cold war from both sides of the Iron Curtain - David Scott, Astronaut with NASA and Alexei Leonov, Cosmonaut for Russia. Both shared the same dream to fly; then to join the space race and get to the moon.
This is an autobiography seen through the eyes of both Scott and Leonov - the highs and lows, their tremendous achievements, disappointments and sadness at lives lost. The stories of both authors' intertwine well and it is very easy to read. Although politics has an integral role in the recounting of this story, it is not bogged down by the details.
This totally fascinating tale is both entertaining and informative but doesn't get too technical. There is even a glossary for those who find acronyms difficult to remember - I discovered this half way through the book and it is well worth knowing before you start!
I enjoyed this book immensely and although it helps if you have an interest for all things space related, I would recommend it to anyone who just loves a good, compelling read.
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on 12 April 2006
This detailed and entertaining book tells the respective stories of U.S. astronaut Dave Scott and Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov. A succinct and genuinely interesting foreword by Neil Armstrong lays out the context. Thereafter, Scott and Leonov alternate chapters, all written in the first person.

Their respective upbringings and pilot backgrounds are described at just the right length, followed by the pair's recruitment to opposite sides of the space race.

Leonov offers a candid account of his and man's first ever spacewalk in 1965 as well as his frustrations as the U.S. later took the lead in the rush to land a man on the moon. Meanwhile, Scott provides rare detail of his frightening Gemini 8 mission and a full review of walking and driving on the moon with Apollo 15. Scott's chapters in particular are very well written and he does credit writer Christine Toomey in the acknowledgements.

It was only when Scott assisted with preparations for the early 70s Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) that he and Leonov became good friends and the latter sections here describe how that led to this joint biography. ASTP gets little attention all these years later, so Leonov's account of his part in the mission is valuable.

Twenty-odd photos from Leonov, including a couple of his paintings, and a similar number from Scott round the book out. Worth adding to any collection of Apollo-related biographies, this paperback gives double the value for its added insight to the Russian space effort.
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on 15 June 2004
This is a special book. If you have never read anything of the US or Russian Space missions, this book will give a very good insight into the personal experiences of two of the most interesting people. If you've read a lot about the US, then the Russian tales will amaze you. You'll find in here an eye witness testimony from Leonov on how close the Russians were to manned circum-lunar flight and even landing coupled with the real reasons they didn't beat the Americans. From Dave Scott you'll get a great tale of personal achievement and focused determination. The book has clearly had the touch of a professional writer but the individual personalities of Scott & Leonov shine through.
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on 5 July 2016
The incredible achievements of 50's , 60's and 70's feels remote and the public lost the interest in the space exploring - this book is very low in Amazon Bestsellers Rank and I bought my copy from a discount shop in Oxford.
The main reasons might be the fact that the story was told several times and today the moon landings are history, not future at least for the time being.
Apart from the Chinese willing to put their flag on it, I do not see men visiting it in the foreseeable future, unless the cost of flying can be reduced to make the exploration economically viable.

The book consists of side to side autobiographies of two of the most successful astronauts, one from each side of the iron curtain.

These two men were really exceptional, at the forefront of the first space flights and the landing on the moon. They were given some of the more difficult tasks in the soviet and American space quests and they performed brilliantly.
Both were born before the second world war, they were initially fighter pilots and their space training included science studies as well.
Scott had a privileged upbringing and he feels aristocratic, Leonov started from a very poor upbringing, but both are examples of very determined, resourceful and successful men.
I suspect both were cold, not overfriendly people, but the focus on being the best did not allowed them time for social interactions.
Leonov is a bit bitter because the soviets lost the moon race and the communism imploded together with any hope of Russian space successes.

The narratives are a bit bland, some of the dangerous incidents they faced were the subject of a recent series on Discovery and a lot of what they seen and done might be still classified, but it was an interested reading.
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on 29 June 2004
I bought this book because I like space related titles, however this book also provides a real (scary) insight into the workings of the US and USSR at the height of the cold war from the people at the front provided from both sides.
Two amazing men who are real explorers of the 20th Century
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on 29 April 2006
Absolutely brilliant book. I recommend it to anyone interested in the workings of NASA and the USA and USSR during the Space Race. It gives a detailed, and to some extent, unbiased view of the actual things going on during the such a tense time, from both the eyes of an American astronaut, and a Russian cosmonaut.

Both stories begin from childhood and show the development of their lives, rising up the ranks to both become highly respected people. Once again, thoroughly recommended.
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on 20 June 2014
Two personal accounts of space exploration during the cold war era from either side of the iron curtain culminating in two adversaries becoming great friends. I found this an interesting read. Knowing something of the popular 'moon landing' story of Apollo 11, this book provides a great deal of additional information surrounding the space race which is less well known in popular culture. A good read for deepening your knowledge of the space race and personal insight into one of the most competitive political periods of modern history.
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on 7 February 2005
There are very few books left by any of the Mercury-Apollo astronaughts that I have not read, so I had a good idea of what to expect. However, these two early explorers attack thier subject in a very refreshing manner that makes this an enjoyable read.
I had anticiapted that Dave Scott would use the book as a chance to bite back as some NASA officials for making him and his crew scapegoat for selling spaceflight memrobillia. I guess this had always been a minor perk with most US astronaughts when they put their neck on the line, sitting on top of a balistic missile. However, Scott comes across as one of the less arrogant astronaughts and deals with the issus in a fair an practicle way (which others do not)
Leonov and Scott come across as the type of guys you would be happy to sit down and share a beer (or vodka) with in a bar. A good book and a worthy addtion to my colletion .
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on 16 July 2014
A great read. It was well constructed with the interleaving of David Scott's experiences with Alexei Leonov's experiences. A good insight into the Russian side of the Space Race. A really captivating read.
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