• Beyond

  • The Astonishing Story of the First Human to Leave Our Planet and Journey into Space
  • By: Stephen Walker
  • Narrated by: David Rintoul
  • Length: 15 hrs and 38 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (136 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“This remarkable account of the 1961 race into space is a thrilling piece of storytelling.... It is high definition history: tight, thrilling, and beautifully researched.” (The Times, London, front-page lead review)

Beyond has the exhilaration of a fine thriller, but it is vividly embedded in the historic tensions of the Cold War, and peopled by men and women brought sympathetically, and sometimes tragically, to life.” (Colin Thubron, author of Shadow of the Silk Road)

09.07 am. April 12, 1961. A top secret rocket site in the USSR. A young Russian sits inside a tiny capsule on top of the Soviet Union’s most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile - originally designed to carry a nuclear warhead - and blasts into the skies. His name is Yuri Gagarin. And he is about to make history.

Travelling at almost 18,000 miles per hour - 10 times faster than a rifle bullet - Gagarin circles the globe in just 106 minutes. From his windows, he sees the Earth as nobody has before, crossing a sunset and a sunrise, crossing oceans and continents, witnessing its beauty and its fragility. While his launch begins in total secrecy, within hours of his landing, he has become a world celebrity - the first human to leave the planet.

Beyond tells the thrilling story behind that epic flight on its 60th anniversary. It happened at the height of the Cold War as the US and USSR confronted each other across an Iron Curtain. Both superpowers took enormous risks to get a man into space first, the Americans in the full glare of the media, the Soviets under deep cover. Both trained their teams of astronauts to the edges of the endurable. In the end, the race between them would come down to the wire.

Drawing on extensive original research and the vivid testimony of eyewitnesses, many of whom have never spoken before, Stephen Walker unpacks secrets that were hidden for decades and takes the listener into the drama of one of humanity’s greatest adventures - to the scientists, engineers, and political leaders on both sides, and, above all, to the American astronauts and their Soviet rivals battling for supremacy in the heavens.

©2021 Stephen Walker (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

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A remarkable story on many levels

This is one of the most captivating stories that I've come across in all of the more-than-ninety books that I've listened to on Audible. Not only is this the story of one remarkable young man but it is also a fascinating look at the frenetic behind-the-scenes maneuvering involved in the intense competition between the Soviets and the Americans to be the first nation to put a man in space. I've come away with a much more complete understanding of the dramatic events that were part of my youth. It's a well written book that is clearly delivered. I highly recommend it.

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The other side of history

Although familiar with the history of US road to the moon, I knew very little detail of the early Russian program. Walker did excellent research and presenting the story in a chronological narrative contrasting the efforts of both US and Russian programs makes the book captivating. Outstanding story and performance by the narrator. Best book ever using Audible (and my first review ever which emphasizes my rating.)

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excellent to know the other side of the race

Having read so many books about the USAs space program it was really interesting to know more about the USSRs effort and the push to be at the top. A must read for the space enthusiast.

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Excellent. Well worth the listen!

Such a powerful story that I had no clue about. It certainly leaves you wondering how Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin really died. His name was unknown to me before listening to this book. Yuri was such a brave man, What a hero. This was one of those, "I can't stop listening" books.

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Wow!

As a student of the Russian language, I learned a bit about this story, but the historical records from the time left something to be desired.

I was very excited to listen to this book once I heard the author on the BBC History Extra podcast. I was not disappointed! The story and the performance of this book are phenomenal!

Thank you, Stephen Walker, for making this history come alive.

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One of the best non-fiction thrillers

Mr Walker has clearly investigated the topic at great length. Unlike the American space program, the unredacted history of the Soviet space program has not previously been discussed. Mr. Walker brings back to life not only Yuri Gagarin, Gherman Titov and Nikita Khrushchev, but also the elusive Sergey Pavlovich Korolyov. He does so in ways that have most likely not been attempted before. A most remarkable and entertaining book.

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Terrific story and performance.

I was curious about the life of Yuri Gagarin, the first human being in space, and knew very little of the Russian cosmonaut program.
This narrative telling of Yuri’s experience juxtaposed with the US Astronauts like Glen and Shepard is truly remarkable.
Great research, insight and story weaving that create a sense of urgency and magnitude. When Yuri is about to blast off you become glued to the narrator and when the rocket finally bursts off the ground I yelled out loud in jubilation. Highly recommend.

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Turn Gagarin had the right stuff too

Essentialy, "The Right Stuff" with the Russian side included. Very revealing look into how Russia beat American into space and why America beat them to the moon and a reverent look at the first human in space. Well narrated and full of fascinating details.

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Excellent insight into early Space

I thought I knew all about the early space programs having read most all that was written but this book has by far a true in-depth rendering of the people who lived it. Absolutely outstanding.
Dick Rutan

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riskier venture than we ever knew

this story reveals what we didn't know at the time especially the failures and risks. it begs the question would the cosmonauts and astronauts have been so gung ho if they had a clearer understanding of the dangers they faced