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Dark side of the moon : the magnificent madness of the American lunar quest

by De Groot, Gerard J., 1955-

Format: Print Book 2006
Availability: Available at 2 Libraries 2 of 2 copies
Available (2)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Main Library Second Floor - Non-fiction TL789.8.U6 A5318 2005
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Second Floor - Non-fiction
Call Number  TL789.8.U6 A5318 2005
Northland Public Library Nonfiction 629.454 D36 2006
Location  Northland Public Library
Collection  Nonfiction
Call Number  629.454 D36 2006

A selection of the History, Scientific American, and Quality Paperback Book Clubs

For a very brief moment during the 1960s, America was moonstruck. Boys dreamt of being an astronaut; girls dreamed of marrying one. Americans drank Tang, bought "space pens" that wrote upside down, wore clothes made of space age Mylar, and took imaginary rockets to the moon from theme parks scattered around the country.

But despite the best efforts of a generation of scientists, the almost foolhardy heroics of the astronauts, and 35 billion dollars, the moon turned out to be a place of "magnificent desolation," to use Buzz Aldrin's words: a sterile rock of no purpose to anyone. In Dark Side of the Moon, Gerard J. DeGroot reveals how NASA cashed in on the Americans' thirst for heroes in an age of discontent and became obsessed with putting men in space. The moon mission was sold as a race which America could not afford to lose. Landing on the moon, it was argued, would be good for the economy, for politics, and for the soul. It could even win the Cold War. The great tragedy is that so much effort and expense was devoted to a small step that did virtually nothing for mankind.

Drawing on meticulous archival research, DeGroot cuts through the myths constructed by the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations and sustained by NASA ever since. He finds a gang of cynics, demagogues, scheming politicians, and corporations who amassed enormous power and profits by exploiting the fear of what the Russians might do in space.

Exposing the truth behind one of the most revered fictions of American history, Dark Side of the Moon explains why the American space program has been caught in a state of purposeless wandering ever since Neil Armstrong descended from Apollo 11 and stepped onto the moon. The effort devoted to the space program was indeed magnificent and its cultural impact was profound, but the purpose of the program was as desolate and dry as lunar dust.

Fly me to the moon
Slaves to a dream
What are we waiting for?
The red rockets glare
Rocket jocks
Before this decade is out
The sleep of reason produces monsters
Lost in space
Sacrifices on the altar of St. John
Merry Christmas from the Moon
Magnificent desolation
Nothing left to do.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "If asked to name the greatest technological achievement of the twentieth century, many people would say the 1969 Apollo moon landing. They would be surprised to discover that this superlative achievement had a dark side. How many of us knew that the U.S. government took its initial rocket technology directly from Nazi Germany and absorbed their leading scientists for the purpose of security ? Perhaps not many, which is why historian Degroot should be commended for shining a light on the lunar quest. Citing American competitiveness, Degroot argues that the moon landing was primarily a stunt of one-upmanship: the Russians getting into space first with Sputnik had a profound affect on Americans, as politicians and citizens alike became obsessed with beating them to the moon. Never mind the obscenely huge cost of a lunar mission and consequent risk to defense, or that sending a man into space was perhaps negligible in terms of science. At the present time, when NASA has scheduled another moon shot for 2018, Degroot revisits the question that should have been fully explored the last time around: Why? --Jerry Eberle Copyright 2006 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "When President Kennedy announced that the United States would land a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s, he forced NASA to assume a "faster, cheaper, better" mindset that continues to bedevil it today, says DeGroot (The Bomb: A History). The space agency quickly came up against the budgetary pressures of the Vietnam War and expanding domestic programs, but as DeGroot writes, Lyndon Johnson insisted the U.S. would meet his predecessor's goal, even as NASA's budget was cut every year. DeGroot reveals that engineers turned a blind eye on slipshod components in order to meet impossible deadlines. NASA's public relations machine portrayed its astronauts as wholesome all-Americans even as many of them behaved like rutting frat boys when off duty. The claim has often been made that consumers benefited from the space program, but the author points out that Tang, Velcro and Teflon were invented long before Sputnik was launched. DeGroot writes with 20-20 hindsight, and his sarcasm may put off some readers, although it makes for entertaining reading. Anyone interested in a corrective view to the official hagiographies of the space program will find this acid-etched history hard to put down. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Project Apollo (U.S.) -- History.
Space flight to the moon -- History -- 20th century.
Moon -- Exploration -- 20th century.
United States -- History -- 1953-1961.
United States -- History -- 1961-1969.
Publisher New York :New York University Press,2006
Language English
Description xiv, 321 pages ; 24 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 289-292) and index.
ISBN 0814719953 (cloth : alk. paper)
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