Listen free for 30 days

  • 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 37 mins
  • Categories: History, Russia
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars (9 ratings)

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

9.07 a.m., 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. 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 testimonies 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 - featuring the scientists, engineers and political leaders on both sides and above all the American astronauts and their Soviet rivals battling for supremacy in the heavens.

©2021 Stephen Walker (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"The very best account of Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering space mission - vivid, thoughtful, and respectful of the characters in the story. A wonderfully rendered story of an epochal event." (Asif Siddiqi, author of The Challenge to Apollo)

"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)

"Suddenly, every previous biography of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and his epic Earth-orbiting flight - and there are many - has been superseded [...] A spellbinding and completely authoritative account [...] It is rare for someone to tell such a monumental story with the narrative skill, research and suspense one usually expects to find in a James Patterson thriller, but this book is a guaranteed gem. It will intrigue and enlighten any reader who wants to know more about a humble man named Yuri Gagarin and his perilous and near-fatal journey into the then-largely unknown sensations and terrors of the cosmos. Simply put, Beyond is, in my opinion, the finest, best researched book ever written on the subject and thoroughly deserves the ongoing plaudits of space historians and interested readers alike." (Colin Burgess)

More from the same

What listeners say about Beyond

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    9
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    8
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    8
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant 👍

Absolutely Brilliant. Of the scores of Audible books I’ve enjoyed, this has been among the best, enhanced even more by the narrator. Thank you. I finished it minutes ago, on the 60th anniversary of Yuri Gargarin’s space triumph.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A refrigerator and silk undies for the Hero of the Soviet Union

Pacy informative and revelatory. Perfect balance between the two centres of the Cold War. It puts into context what was happening in the world alongside the space race. The juxtaposition of the Bay of Pigs and Gagarin’s space flight is telling. In the epilogue, there is a frightening insight into how controlling the USSR was in its citizens' daily lives: Gagarin was given by the state a specified number of suits, silk underwear, a refrigerator and his wife two handbags.