In the Shadow of the Moon: America, Russia, and the Hidden History of the Space Race

HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Feb. 2021. 336p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062888754.
Gr 7 Up–This title provides a fascinating look at the early space race and the two engineers who led the technological innovations. Wernher von Braun was a German-born high-ranking Nazi official and SS officer, who developed Germany’s devastating V-2 missiles. V-2s were built at factories using forced labor; von Braun worked at Mittelwerk, a production facility where countless prisoners suffered and died. At the close of World War II, top German engineers knew the future of rocketry would involve either the Soviets or Americans. Von Braun chose the Americans and surrendered in May 1945. U.S. policy mandated that former SS officers would not be accepted into the States, but von Braun’s knowledge was too extensive to dismiss. His background was quietly classified and not released for decades. Von Braun and his team later developed the Saturn rockets, which gave him celebrity status in the U.S. Meanwhile, as a young man, Sergei Korolev refused to implicate a coworker with false allegations during Stalin’s Great Purge and was arrested. He barely survived a Soviet gulag and was sent to a work prison. In the 1950s, the Soviets classified his name when he developed the Sputnik rocket. The text adds depth to the history of the space race, with thoughtful, ethical discussions of the U.S. concealing von Braun’s history to further its agenda. The back matter is extensive.
VERDICT This book contains numerous interesting biographical and technological facts, which results in an engaging, fast-paced narrative that will delight readers of history and space technology. A worthy addition to all libraries serving teens.

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