Dark Side of the Moon: The Magnificent Madness of the American Lunar Quest

Synopsis

A selection of the History, Scientific American, and Quality Paperback Book Clubs "DeGroot crafts a winning formula: While peeling away layer after layer of the deceptions and spin that sold NASA's lunar program to the funding public, he indulges readers with a nostalgia binge of epic proportions.... The author provides lots of philandering-astronaut stories and similar fun stuff to go along with the overview." - Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"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." - Publishers Weekly

"DeGroot has done it again. After writing two of the best books on the Vietnam War and the nuclear arms race he has written another intelligent, insightful and remarkably readable history of the space race.Dark Side of the Moonshines a bright light on America's sprint to the moon." - Martin J. Sherwin, co-author of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer(winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Biography)

"The U.S. victory in the 1960s space race still lies at the heart of American triumphalism. In this fresh, insightful, and irreverent history of the U.S. space program, DeGroot punctures the scientific pretensions of manned space flight more effectively than any writer since Tom Wolfe. DeGroot deftly cuts through the dense mythology crafted by NASA and the Kennedy and Johnson administrations to expose politicians' and space enthusiasts' cynical manipulation of public fears and dreams and eagerness to spend enormous sums of public money in the race to the moon. This witty and erudite work not only illuminates key aspects of Cold War politics and culture, it is also crucial for understanding current space policy and misadventures." - Peter J. Kuznick, director of the Nuclear Studies Institute, American University, and author of Beyond the Laboratory: Scientists As Political Activists in 1930s America

"Splendid.... Grounded in serious scholarship, covers issues well, has an argument that comes through loud and clear, and is at the same time eminently readable and enjoyable. Drawing on NASA files and documents at the JFK Library in Boston, the manuscript at the same time relies on elements from the popular press, and manages to integrate popular culture with larger issues of policy in a highly effective way.... DeGroot has a unique ability to characterize issues in a vivid and vibrant way." - Allan M. Winkler, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio

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