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  • Challenger

  • A True Story of Heroism and Disaster on the Edge of Space
  • By: Adam Higginbotham
  • Narrated by: Jacques Roy
  • Length: 16 hrs and 53 mins
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars (27 ratings)

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Challenger cover art

Challenger

By: Adam Higginbotham
Narrated by: Jacques Roy
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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

From the New York Times-bestselling author of Midnight in Chernobyl comes the definitive, dramatic, minute-by-minute story of the Challenger space shuttle disaster based on fascinating in-depth reporting and new archival research – riveting history that unfolds like a thriller

On the morning of 28 January 1986, just seventy-three seconds into flight, the space shuttle Challenger broke apart over the Atlantic Ocean, killing all seven people on board. Millions around the world witnessed the tragic deaths of the crew, which included schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe. Like the assassination of JFK, the Challenger disaster is a defining moment in twentieth century history – one that forever changed the way America thought of itself and its optimistic view of the future. Yet the full story of what happened – and why – has never been told.

Based on extensive archival research and meticulous, original reporting, Challenger: A True Story of Heroism and Disaster on the Edge of Space follows a handful of central protagonists – including each of the seven members of the doomed crew – through the years leading up to the accident, a detailed account of the tragedy itself, and into the investigation that followed. It’s a compelling tale of optimism and ingenuity shattered by political cynicism and cost-cutting in the interests of burnishing national prestige; of hubristic ‘go fever’; and of an investigation driven by heroic leakers and whistle-blowers determined to bring the truth to light.

With astonishing clarity and narrative verve, Adam Higginbotham reveals the history of the shuttle program, the lives of men and women whose stories have been overshadowed by the disaster, as well as the designers, engineers and test pilots who struggled against the odds to get the first shuttle into space. A masterful blend of riveting human drama, fascinating science and shocking political infighting, Challenger brings to life a turning point in our history. The result is an even more complex and extraordinary story than any of us remembered – or thought possible.

©2024 Adam Higginbotham (P)2024 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

'There is no let-up in the tension Adam Higginbotham skilfully creates as he uncovers the many missed opportunities to avert the disastrous launch of the space shuttle Challenger. His remarkable book is testimony to the truth that although technology will sometimes let us down, in the end it is human weakness that creates tragedy and human strength that creates heroism.' (David Omand, author of How Spies Think and How to Survive a Crisis)

What listeners say about Challenger

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Powerful account of an avoidable disaster

I've been looking forward to this account from Adam Higginbotham after reading "midnight in Chernobyl", and pre-ordered it to get it the day it was released.

It is a super recount of the challenger disaster, that really sets the scene of the before, during, and after. Clearly well researched it is fantastic at covering the details and being reachable to a lay audience and makes the technical side easily understandable.

It's a powerful account of the individuals, and the affect on them and their families and the shuttle program. It can be an absolute tear-jerker, and Adam Higginbotham paints a vivid picture of the human side of the tragedy.

Narration: The narration from Roy was superb, he does have a bit of a faced-pasted tone in his reading thats meant I've occassionaly had to hit the back button to revert back 20 seconds, but overall he does a competent and great job.

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Unbelievable

It's hard to put into words the sheer scale of the tragedy and it's effect. Mike Smiths daughters words brought me to tears. This is an excellent book, well read and well paced. If you're interested in the subject, you'll find something much here. I thoroughly recommend this book.

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Essential listening

Loved this listen, took me a few hours to warm to the narrator - he sounds better on x1 (I usually use x1.2). I’d recommend to anyone associated with engineering and management, of any kind.

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