Two Sides of the Moon: Our Story of the Cold War Space Race by: David Scott and Alexei Leonov
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (February 21, 2006)
In this unique dual autobiography, astronaut David Scott and cosmonaut Alexei Leonov recount their exceptional lives and careers spent on the cutting edge of science and space exploration. This book reveals, in a very personal way, the drama of one of the most ambitious contests ever embarked on by man, set against the conflict that once held the world in suspense: the clash between communism and Western democracy.Through the men’s memoirs, their courage emerges from their perseverance in times of extraordinary difficulty and danger.
I have to tell you.. I was never a history buff person in school. I think it had to do with the fact that you HAD to read it ..and you HAD to memorize all the dates and things that happened on the dates… I really was not into it. I mean, I did it… but it didn’t make me a history nut.
This book brought much of the feeling of history class back to me. Dates (which I did NOT memorize) and things that were going on in the world when these two men were being born and heading in the direction of becoming an Astronaut and Cosmonaut.
For me there were times that I felt like NCIS when someone would get his head slapped. Wow.. I remember the Cuban Missile Crises very well. My brother was in the Air Force and his leave was abruptly canceled! And I certainly remember Kennedy’s assassination !
So many historic things in my life time that were happening.
When I first looked at this book I wondered if I really wanted to read an autobiography that also included a Cosmonaut, that I really didn’t know. I don’t know why I wouldn’t since it was still about the race to the moon but it probably wasn’t high on my list of reads. But finding out how Alexei lived his young life and even his life as a Cosmonaut… made me put this man on my list of hero’s. He was, like it or not, the very first person to “walk in space”.
I have read a number of autobiographies of our original astronauts. And a few books like Moonshot (still my favorite ), and of course many movies and documentaries on the race to the moon. But other then saying who did what first I knew nothing of the Russians other than they were beating us for quite some time.
This book opened that up somewhat with Alexei Leonov’s autobiography included in the book. It was very well written . There would be pages on David Scott and then pages on Alexei about the same period of time. From when they were young boys and how they first got into the space program.
I found it quite amazing what a hard, hard life Alexei lived through and how much he managed to accomplish in Russia.
The basic story is one I know well because I lived through it… at least the American parts of it.
Just the mention of Stalin and Khrushchev and Brezhnov made me have flashes of pictures of them on television. I have to admit.. I had all but forgotten about them.
I really enjoyed the comparison of these two men’s lives and America and Russia at that time. It reveals more problems that they had with the rockets and with their space ships that I knew nothing about. Maybe they told the public at the time and I forgot it or maybe they kept it discreetly quiet.
David Scott nearly was killed and had that happened he would not have commanded Apollo 15 and been the seventh man to walk on the moon.
In this time of our lives, when NASA is being cut off of government money and going back to the moon has been canceled, it brought back all my good feelings for our astronauts. I even cried when the Shuttle landed the other day when they announced it was it’s last flight. I don’t know why I feel so strongly that man should not slow down with space exploration, but it saddens me deeply.
Do I know the money could be used to feed the hungry? Of course I do, but I sincerely believe its a matter of how the monies are dispersed. I believe the money is there to help the American people in whatever capacity is needed. And there is money to help other countries in times of crisis. And I believe in the space program with my whole heart and I do believe the money to go ahead with going back to the moon is there too. Maybe I’m a fool to believe that, but reading this book reminded me how much we need to reach out in space and hope that there are more answers out there then we even suspect. *Hope*..it’s a word we need.
I will admit that when I bought this book I wondered how it could possibley be any different from any other book talking about the space race? But it was an excellent combination of two autobiographies, and two views of getting to the moon.
So.. if you are one who likes to read about the Space Race, I would highly recommend this book. Along with some old history lessons the story each man tells gives you a lot more insight to what really was going on. This book is a keeper.
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