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.
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.
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.
"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.
"Great Historical Book, Performance Weak"
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
"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.
"Great Narrative about pre-Apollo Space Program"
Got the book after seeing several of the author's videos on her youtube channel, Vintage Space, if you've read or watched everything you can get your eyes on about Apollo you need to hear/read this book.
"Excellent First Outing Amy Shira Teitel"
There's much written about the decades surrounding the development of rockets and how they emerged as the prime technology of space flight. But rarely is the story treated so accessibly as it is in the words of the most excellent Amy Shira Teitel. I've been a fan of her "Vintage Space" YouTube channel for quite sometime, so I may be a bit bias in my judgement. But if you are looking for a good jumping off point in the foundations of early rocket development, this is a fantastic choice. Highly recommended.
Full of interesting information that is not presented in a series of facts, but facts weaved into a story. Easy to understand and listen to.
The whole book.
"Great complete overview"
I recommend this book if you (like me) have only fractured pieces of rocket history and want to put them in chronological order as well as wider context. The end of book for example made me realise where all the different designs (Redstone, Atlas, X-15) came from.
Covers really everything that preceded NASA with important personal and political factors explained. Engaging individual - often heroic - stories alternate with large scale events on international scale. The second half lost me at times describing complicated relations of the many organisations in USA , but I still listened for the information on technological progress and political nuances that lead to forming NASA.
The narration was a bit dry in my opinion, showing the narrator's lack of enthusiasm towards space tech, but otherwise was technically very good.
"Excellent pre-NASA space history"
An excellent history of the development of rockets and space research pre-NASA. It starts from the science fiction authors of the late nineteenth century through the WW2 V2 rockets into the Cold War. It focuses on the stories of the people working on getting rockets and people into space, showing their successes and failures. The narration of this audio book was also excellent. I had no trouble hearing and understanding her. All in all I recommend this audiobook to anyone interested in the early space program.
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