on 6 September 2007
For many years now I have made presentations on NASA history as well as all of the human space programs. I have focused mainly on Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. Into That Silent Sea is clearly one of the most well written and authoritative books on the subject that I have ever read. Through exhaustive research and personal contact with the pioneers of space exploration Francis French and Colin Burgess have compiled a treasure. Full of anecdotes, and including much little known information it gives a fascinating insight into what the early days were like for both our astronauts and for the Soviet cosmonauts. Many others who lived this history contribute their perspective as well. I highly recommend this work to all who are interested in the human experience. The book is easy to read, captivating, and one of the most fascinating books that I have found.
Capt. William (Mike) Lucas
on 16 July 2007
"Into That Silent Sea" is an enthralling account of the early years of space exploration (1961-1965). In page-turning fashion the authors chronicle the lives and times of the pioneering men and women of the US/Soviet "space race". Lovingly researched and highly readable, "Into That Silent Sea" marvelously evokes this unique era. Peppered with interviews and insights from many of the space travelers themselves and colorful (but lesser known) characters such as Dee O'Hara (astronauts nurse) and Jim Lewis (Liberty Bell 7 recovery pilot), the authors provide exciting, new (and occasionally controversial) information a-plenty for space enthusiasts and casual readers alike. While many of us likely recall an icon or two from those early days- Gagarin, Glenn, Tereshkova - how much do we really know about their personal lives, their accomplishments, or their equally remarkable contemporaries? Who were they, what motivated them? "Into That Silent Sea" tells their human stories and illuminates a magnificent tapestry of historic times and outstanding achievements. Highly recommended.
on 17 September 2007
Into that Silent Sea is an interesting and unique account of the men and women who pioneered the space era. The authors bring to light many anecdotes and facts which illuminate each astronaut's personality, their triumphs and struggles. This book is an easy read even for those unacquainted with space history, as it is non-technical yet it offers interesting insights into the personalities of these earlier adventurers.
For anyone who is interested in the initial phase of space exploration, this book is a must-have.
on 23 April 2007
Now that the "Cold War" seems thankfully to be in the past, there is a unique opportunity to reflect on the astronauts and cosmonauts that fought the space race in the sixties.
Francis French and Colin Burgess give a personal "down-to-earth" as well as an "up-in-orbit" view of the American and Soviet men and women who made considerable personal sacrifices and showed true bravery to try and beat the other country to the stars.
It's very well written and accessible to space illiterate technophobes like me. Thoroughly recommended reading.
on 4 June 2007
This book is an easy and enjoyable read for those interested in history, space travel and the people who were involved with the early years of spaceflight in the USA and Russia.
The oportunity for people to have their say, set the record straight or add information is surely one we must applaud the authors for undertaking. Through their interest in people they have added a great deal to the information already available on this period (1961-1965).
As Wally Schirra the astronaut sums up so well, on the back of the jacket, quote - 'This frank, entertaining, no-holds-barred ride through the golden age of space flight takes us behind the official stories, into the real lives of the very first astronauts and cosmonauts.'
on 18 October 2007
A fantastic job, not only in bringing to the fore many otherwise never to be enjoyed stories, but also managing to maintain a keen, intrinsic sense of "wonderment" about the human experience in space. I haven't seen an example of writing like this since Andy Chaikin's "A Man On The Moon" book. I especially enjoyed the present-day comments shared by those who were there when those historical events happened. The cosmonaut chapters were beautifully done as well! This book is just a joy to read!
on 5 December 2007
I have now read both 'Into that Silent Sea' and ' In the Shadow of the Moon'. Undoubtedly the pair represent an opus magnum, especially as they are given added authority by the comments of the participants in the early attempts to conquer space. The detailed accounts of the flights and the biographies of the crews are clearly the result of deep research over, it seems, a period of decades. The two volumes are therefore a historical landmark for future generations similar to our seeking sources of the current affairs in the time of the Venerable Bede.
I now have two volumes of carefully compiled references to which I can turn. The resolving of the technical problems and the remarkable courage of the crews will be a constant fascination, of which one will undoubtedly always wish to recall.
Within my orbit of knowledge, I can honestly comment that the books are very well and clearly written and the subject matter has been compiled in a most orderly manner. At no time did I have to wonder how the next aspect followed on from the former; so even a complete novice to the material as myself could follow the trend, objectives and development of the technical programme and the building of the physical capabilities, experience and knowledge of the crews.
In short I heartily congratulate on dedicated research and concentrated application to write two profoundly authentic volumes of the space programmes over a most critical early period of eight years.
on 21 December 2007
There are many reasons why I regard this book so highly.
The writing style and narrative is enjoyable, flowing, well-paced, accessible, exciting. The book is superbly researched. The events and human subjects covered in the book are interesting, anything but dull, the authors uncovered uncommon stories about them.
Most of all, I felt like I had walked away after reading this book seeing these spacefarers and astronauts as humans, real people, not celebrities. The authors managed to show us their humanity without losing respect for their accomplishments. In fact, in spite of their humanity, their weaknesses, their environment, I have even more respect for so many of these spacefarers now that I can appreciate what they went through and had to overcome to achieve what they were able to.
I even came away with a much deeper appreciation and understanding of people I've often considered enemies at worst (i.e., Russian spacefarers), and objects of derision at best.
The stories in this book touch the human spirit in a way that is universal, beyond politics, beyond creed, beyond country. That's because the authors were able to capture an underlying essence most humans on our planet share: the curiosity and wonder to explore and give one's life to a cause greater than one's own agenda or paradigm.
on 13 December 2007
As the wife of a fanatical space enthusiast, I have frequently found myself accompanying my husband to lectures, presentations and autograph shows - my role was never more than to act as gofer, holder, porter, etc. Thanks to 'Into That Silent Sea', this has all changed. I feel knowledgeable, competent and keen to engage in a dialogue of my own with these incredible people. I never would have believed that I would ever have described a book covering the history of space travel as being unputdownable. But, truly, it was and here are the reasons why:
I enjoyed the straightforward language in which it was written. At no time was I ever bamboozled by highly technical spacespeake.
It was akin to reading a detective story all the way from Gagarin's first spaceflight to Alexei Leonov's spacewalk. (I once had my photograph taken with him - next time I will be able to talk intelligibly with him!). One always wanted to read on and on and see what happened next.
My interest was held as I learned about the personal lives of the astronauts / cosmonauts and those near and dear to them. Their missions and their own much later thoughts about those missions was absorbing, but it was equally intriguing to learn about their origins, their time as children, their developing interests in aerospace, etc.
I thank the authors of 'Into That Silent Sea' for opening my eyes to a whole new sphere of interest.
on 19 October 2007
It has been almost 50 years since mankind first
slipped the bonds of earth to explore the heavens.
Since then, space exploration has given us some of the
most spectacular and memorable moments in history from
the first moon-landing on Apollo 11 to the drama of
Apollo 13 and the devastation of the Challenger and
Columbia disasters. The material already written on
these programmes would likely stretch from here to the
moon, and many would be forgiven for assuming that
there's nothing new to write on the subject. However,
authors Francis French and Colin Burgess have found a
new angle and made a most worthy contribution to the
history of our greatest adventure.
What separates "Into that Silent Sea" from many other books on the space
programme is that it focuses on the men and women who
made it all possible. This is a people's history of
space and examines that magnificent race from the
perspective of those who lived it and did it: whether
running the programmes or riding the rockets. Through
their genuine interest in the subject matter, Burgess
and French won the trust of the astronauts, cosmonauts
and the lesser-known or forgotten space pioneers who
toiled behind the scenes. The reward for their
dedication and sincerity were stories that in many
cases have never been told before and provide a fresh
perspective on the early days of spaceflight. The end
result is a book that ranks amongst the very best
written on the subject.
Not only does this book provide a most welcome
perspective on a truly remarkable endeavour, but it is also extremely well written and thoroughly
readable. This book transports you to a time when the
two great superpowers were competing for control of
the ultimate high ground while the rest of the world
watched in awe and perhaps bewilderment. It proves
that while the men and women who rode these rockets
were indeed the best, bravest and brightest of that or
any other time, they were also mere humans with their
own foibles, insecurities, peculiarities and
If you want a truly human history of spaceflight,
this book is amongst the very best available.