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A Ball, a Dog, and a Monkey

1957 - The Space Race Begins
Narrated by: Alan Sklar
Length: 10 hrs and 52 mins
Categories: History, 20th Century
4 out of 5 stars (40 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael D'Antonio captures the wackiness of the first year of the space race as the Americans scrambled desperately to match the Soviets and President Eisenhower intervened to guarantee that the space program would not be run by the military.

On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik I, the first artificial satellite into orbit around the Earth. Little more than a month later, the Soviets launched Sputnik II. News of Sputnik created panic in Washington, D.C., and throughout the United States. Within days, the U.S. military began a madcap race to space, full of crashes, skullduggery, and backstabbing - until Eisenhower's secret civilian program surpassed the Soviets by putting the first American, a hero monkey named Gordo, into orbit.

D'Antonio draws on archives, film footage, and interviews with many of the scientists, reporters, and others who were involved in the first year of the space race. He recounts the early days of the space race with all the zaniness and urgency of the time, just in time for 50th-anniversary commemorations.

©2007 Michael D'Antonio (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Recovers for a new generation the thrill of a pioneer quest and the spirit of an age that already seems like ancient history." ( Kirkus)

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Thomas
  • MSU, MS, United States
  • 12-15-07

Well written, well read

First, if I could give this book 3.5 stars I would.

The book is well written and the narrator is good.

The book is read with an air of suspense like a murder mystery documentary from the discovery channel.

It has about two chapters worth of Sputnik information, very little of which seems to be insider information gleaned from the recent opening classified files on their space programs.

This book doesn't seem to take itself too seriously, it reads more like an extended history channel documentary rather than hard fact based history.

I recommend it as a fun read.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful