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Publisher's Summary

NASA's history is a familiar story, culminating with the agency successfully landing men on the moon in 1969. But NASA's prehistory is a rarely told tale, one that is largely absent from the popular space-age literature but that gives the context behind the incredible lunar program. America's space agency wasn't created in a vacuum; it was assembled from preexisting parts, drawing together some of the best minds the non-Soviet world had to offer. With a central narrative woven from the stories of key historical figures, Breaking the Chains of Gravity tells the story of NASA's roots in an engaging and accessible way.

The book begins with Wernher von Braun, the engineer behind the V-2 rocket, who dreamt of sending rockets into space. He orchestrated a daring escape from the ruins of Nazi Germany and was taken to America, where he began developing missiles for the United States Army. Ten years later his Redstone rocket was the only one capable of launching a payload into orbit. Just what payload von Braun's rockets would launch was under consideration at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. While working out how to get a nuclear warhead through the atmosphere, NACA pioneered a round-bottomed capsule that could also keep men safe when returning from space. Meanwhile, US Air Force pilots rode to the fringes of space in balloons to see how humans handled radiation at high altitude, while NACA test pilots like Neil Armstrong flew cutting-edge aircraft in the thin upper atmosphere.

Breaking the Chains of Gravity looks at the evolution of America's nascent space program, its scientific advances, its personalities, and the rivalries it caused between the various arms of the United States military, right up to the launch of Sputnik in 1957. At this point getting a man in space became a national imperative, leading to the creation by Dwight D. Eisenhower of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

©2016 Amy Shira Teitel (P)2015 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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An enthralling and concise look at the birth of the space race!

Quite an amazing and thorough telling of the historical stumbles, strides and political gambles taken toward the goal of being the first to conquer air and space!

It is fascinating to learn in more detail about the beginnings of modern rocketry and how it's brain trust defected to the United States out of Nazi oppressed Germany.

I was particularly tickled to see such attention given to Edwards Air Force Base and the X-15! My grandfather worked on camera systems for the X-15 project and worked for the NACA when it transformed into NASA. He was even bestowed an inconel plaque for his service.

This was a truly wonderful book and I eagerly await more from the deep knowledge and exacting research of its author.

Thank you!
-Jonathan Redman

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Great Historical Book, Performance Weak

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely. I bought the book (paperback) for my father, and he's loved it. I would absolutely recommend the book, audio or hardcopy, to those who might be at all interested in the subject matter.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Words were mispronounced, the enthusiasm and word stressing was all over the place. She gave it a good effort, but I got the sense that she wasn't quite following the story, she was just reading it line by line.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Interesting

Seems every book on space starts with Kennedy's speech. This book dives into what come before that which was the foundation to the Mercury mission which then lead to Apollo and putting and American in the moon. Very well written highly recommend!!!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Brad
  • AURORA, CO, United States
  • 11-20-15

The Story Before the Story

This is the story behind the story. Amy Teitel has done a great job in having enough technical information in the book to make it interesting but not so technical that it took away from the story. So much of this story is close calls and serendipity, it amazes me that how things lined up to even have a space program. This is the story of a humble rocket club who's participants became the fathers of modern rocketry. Enough Tech to be interesting but not so much it takes away from the story. How did Scott Crossfield's career decisions affect who would be the first man on the moon. You have to find out. How far behind the Soviets was the United States? You will learn about the programs and politics that got the U.S. to claim first man on the moon. Very well written and a good narrator. If you liked the right stuff and Apollo Thirteen this is right in line with those books and I feel just as good.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • T
  • 11-01-15

Interesting stuff.

I didn't know anything about the events leading up to the establishment of NASA. Its a little hard to keep track of the specifics at times . The big picture is really easy to digest though. Wirth a listen if your interested in the topic.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Very Dry

For some reason I didn't feel any involvement with the story. It was too much like a series of historical facts.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Outstanding!!!!!!

This was an outstanding space history book. And I've pretty much read them all. Amy is a tenacious historical sleuth who has turned over so many stones to find tasty tidbits about the world before NASA. Truly a fun, informative, and a unique read. A no-brainer, must-have for any space-nut.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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The people who set the stage for NASA

I really enjoyed the book and Laurence Bouvard's narration. The last few chapters seemed a little rushed (the narrative, not the narrator), I think because the heavily character-driven narrative changed focus to the institutional rivalries that were resolved by the creation of NASA. Other than that, it was a great listen, and it left an impression on me that drove me to seek out more information about the depicted people and events.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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so absorbing!

I should be asleep but "just one more chapter". I can't stop lissening to it! so well written with interesting pieces oh the history of spaceflight you never hear,stiched together seamlessly with those you do.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The rest of the story...

This is a fascinating back-history of our space age. The author's narrative was not laborious but moved at a good pace. I enjoyed this immensely and look forward to what else Amy will bring in the future!

My only complaint: the narrator's pronunciation of various words would change throughout the book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • J
  • 11-25-15

Excellent book, very well researched.

What did you like most about Breaking the Chains of Gravity?

Amy's writing style is thankfully neutral and very easy to read. Her research and telling of this fascinating story reward the reader with a well-woven history lesson that connects the dots from early rocketry to the formation of NASA. I thought I knew a lot on this topic but once I started reading, I couldn't put it down as all the hidden back stories were being revealed.

What about Laurence Bouvard’s performance did you like?

The narration was fine - no complaints. Despite a few curious pronunciations (NaSAW, BARvarian) I was never taken out of the experience of absorbing the information in the book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Garrett Devitt
  • 04-25-17

Great fun.

Fascinating early history of the space program, but finishes up a bit suddenly, more please.

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  • M. Stockill
  • 03-04-18

Definitely a must for any space enthusiast

An interesting insight into the history of space flight pre Apollo. A sadly understated piece of history brought to life in great descriptive story-telling.

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  • Luke Fisher
  • 12-07-17

Amy Teitel is a master of history and storytelling

Loved all of the little details, some I knew, some I didn't. A real pleasure to listen to and learn from.