American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race

Harper/HarperCollins. Young Readers ed. ed. Apr. 2019. 272p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062660282.
Gr 3-7–This young readers’ edition of Brinkley’s adult best seller examines the history and development of rocket ship technology alongside John F. Kennedy’s rise to political power and his dedication to the Space Race. Brinkley begins with two parallel streams of history that slowly but surely intersect. Starting with the development of rocket technology in the 20th century, readers learn about rocket engineering as it was developed during World War II and the American acquisition of key Nazi research that advanced their rocket capabilities. Brinkley details the rise of Kennedy as a political candidate and eventual president. Kennedy had been critical of his predecessor’s progress on rocket technology and spoke often of the missile and space gaps. Once elected, his story became entwined with the Space Race, as he famously declared, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” Politics and science are deftly balanced and presented in a way that will appeal to young history enthusiasts, particularly those interested in the Cold War and space technology.
VERDICT Brinkley is known for his thorough research and engaging writing style, both of which are on full display in this snapshot of the Space Race. Recommended for middle and high school collections where scholarly nonfiction is in demand.

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