A Ball, a Dog, and a Monkey: 1957 - The Space Race Begins by Michael DAntonioA fascinating history of the first two years of the space race, 1957 and 1958. As the time period covered implies, Michael DAntonios purpose is strictly limited to the early Soviet and U.S. efforts to hurl objects into space, from the first Sputnik to the U.S. launch of an entire Atlas missile carrying a recording of President Eisenhower reading a message of peace, a launch carried out not really to broadcast a message of peace, but to put the Soviets in their place by placing the heaviest object yet into orbit. I remember a lot of this stuff . . . I was 11 and 12 when all this happened, and was out in the backyard every night looking for Sputnik and the follow-on American and Soviet satellites, glued to the TV and radio whenever anything space-related came on, following every word of Werner von Braun whenever he appeared on the Disney show (which was often). Exciting times. Reading this history as an adult, Im now a bit more educated about the then-mysterious Russian program and the interservice rivalries that accompanied the American effort. Most of all, Im terribly terribly impressed with the wisdom and leadership of Dwight D. Eisenhower, who kept his perspective about the early Soviet victories and managed to organize an effective space program in spite of squabbles between the Navy, the Army, and the Air Force, and the machinations of the military-industrial complex. And Laika . . . what a sad end for such a brave dog . . . Im happy someone finally wrote a book giving Laika the attention she deserves.
Monkey Meets Dog
Review: A Ball, A Dog, and A Monkey
Table of Contents
A Ball, a Dog, and a Monkey tells the remarkable story of America's first efforts to succeed in space, a time of exploding rockets, national space mania, Florida boomtowns, and interservice rivalries so fierce that President Dwight Eisenhower had to referee them. Members of Congress and the press called for an all-out effort to launch a satellite into orbit. With dire warnings about national security in the news almost every day, the armed services saw space as the new military frontier. But President Eisenhower insisted that the space effort, which relied on military technology, be supervised by civilians so that the space race would be peaceful. Bruce Medaris whom Eisenhower disliked , took over. Meanwhile, the Soviets put a dog inside the next Sputnik, and Americans grew more worried as the first animal in space whirled around the Earth.
It's hard to put one's finger on the flaws in Michael D'Antonio's A Ball, a Dog, and a Monkey , yet reading the book leaves a strangely empty experience. Despite being packed full of facts, many of which were painstakingly rounded up by the author through a series of firsthand interviews, D'Antonio's book fizzles like the ill-fated Vanguard rocket described in Chapter Six "The Acid Test". Perhaps there is something that disappoints about reading of the achievements that led to manned space flight without actually getting to read about manned space flight. The names of Yuri Gagarin and Neil Armstrong are dangled in front of the reader, but the narrative of this slim volume stops with the launch of the Atlas B intercontinental ballistic missile. Subtitled -- The Space Race Begins , the book spends as much time on as it does on , which is a good thing considering all that happened that year. D'Antonio's climactic event -- the success of the December Atlas launch -- is the breakthrough that paved the way for the entire US space program, something that America's best scientific minds were still far from achieving in Doubtless it would have been less catchy to subtitle the volume " The Space Race Begins Rather Slowly," but it might have been best to leave the year out of the title entirely.
MP3 Audio Sample play pause Update Required To play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Synopsis Reviews Awards Media Short Synopsis Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael D'Antonio captures the wackiness of the first year of the space race as the Americans scrambled desperately to match the Soviets and President Eisenhower intervened to guarantee that the space program would not be run by the military. Full Synopsis Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael D'Antonio captures the wackiness of the first year of the space race as the Americans scrambled desperately to match the Soviets and President Eisenhower intervened to guarantee that the space program would not be run by the military. On October 4, , the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik I, the first artificial satellite into orbit around the earth. Little more than a month later, the Soviets launched Sputnik II.