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on 30 July 2016
Yuri Gagarin was a colourful, interesting man, who did colourful, interesting things and who lived in colourful, interesting times. Yet, author Jenks manages to deliver a dry, trite, repetitive book. Jenks is an academic, not by a long shot a writer, and it shows. Literally none of the characters have any flesh on their bones, so to speak. In many cases, they don't even appear to have names. (Valentina Goryacheva for one, is more often than not referred to as "Gagarin's wife"; Leonid Brezhnev is "the one who ousted Khrushchev"...) Jenks is very preoccupied with what he calls "the Gagarin myth", the distorted public image of Gagarin, created by Soviet authorities and Gagarin himself. Yet he himself does precious little more than creating yet another very vague, and I suspect equally distorted, image of Gagarin. The search for a good Gagarin biography goes on.
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on 6 July 2012
This is a very informative and also entertainingly written account of the very first person to travel into space, that I would highly recommend. It is a fascinating read, with new, original research undertaken within Russia and from Russian-language-only sources: this is something that few other English-language books about this era have done. It's new and original, which makes it so refreshing.

Andrew Jenks not only gives a great description of Gagarin's life and flight, he also makes a concerted effort to get behind the myths that have grown up since around the man. I learned a lot, and it is a book I will enjoy rereading.
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